Strange posture

Is your pet hunched over, pressed against a wall, or constantly hiding a certain limb? This could be a sign that your animal is trying to hide the fact that it’s unwell from you. They might have a sore body part, or a bodily function such as breathing might be particularly difficult for them at the moment.

They’re not excited to go out

You might think that your pet who stays put when you open the door is just being lazy. There are probably other reasons that they have no interest in going out, though. It could be because they need to urinate or defecate less frequently due to a blockage, which is a major cause for concern.

Unexplained weight gain

Some pet owners ignore weight gain in pets because they think it’s cute for their pet to be chubby or because they think they’re just feeding too much, even if they aren’t. If there is no overfeeding occurring, then something potentially dangerous could be causing the weight gain, or they could have a hormonal imbalance.

Constant purring in cats

We all know that purring cats are happy, right? Well, this isn’t actually always the case. While content cats are known to purr, if your cat is purring constantly, they might be in pain. Purring also occurs when cats are sore. If the purring doesn’t stop, maybe get the vet to check up on them.

They’re urinating more

If your pet is urinating far more frequently than usual, you should start paying attention. Keep track of how much your pet is needing to go outside or use the litterbox, or even of how much they urinate on walks. They could be suffering from a kidney or adrenal gland disease.

Their behaviour has changed

Behavioural changes is something that often goes ignored by pet owners, who tend to instead watch out for physical symptoms. Some animals, when they are sick, withdraw from those they are close too or sometimes become a bit more aggressive. Many owners put this down to things they are doing wrong as opposed to the pet being ill.

They’re stiff

You know sometimes when a pet wakes up from a great nap and is stiff for their first few steps afterwards? If this is persistent and they frequently have trouble getting up off the ground or up steps, then your pet might actually be in a lot of pain. It could be a sign of arthritis, or they may have hip or ligament issues.


You might think if your pet has diarrhoea that they just ate something funky and they’ll be better in no time, but it can actually be more serious than that. If your pet is suffering from diarrhoea then they might be dealing with severe digestive issues. Animals sometimes try to hide this, so it’s not surprising if you discover this symptom through smell alone.

Pale gums

You might not think to look inside your pet’s mouth to check on their health, but it can actually be a great indicator of their health. Unusually pale gums are a sign of anaemia or low red blood cell count. This can arise from issues with blood clotting or an autoimmune disease; your pet might even be suffering from internal bleeding. Regardless, it’s a sign to get them checked out as soon as you can.

Bad breath

Your pet’s breath probably isn’t the loveliest in the world, but you know what it usually smells like. If their breath has gotten worse than what it generally is, then you may need to take the matter seriously. Bad breath is a sign that your pet has a dental disease which could become severe if you don’t take proper care.

Excessive drooling

Your St. Bernard might drool a lot anyway, but is it a lot more than usual? Or if your pet doesn’t normally drool and has started to, this could be cause for concern. Excessive drooling is another sign of dental issues and possible pain. Your pet isn’t drooling extra just because they want to, we promise.


It’s pretty normal for your pet to get an upset stomach every once in a while, so if they vomit once or twice in the space of a day, you don’t need to be too worried. They might have just eaten something they should have steered clear of! However, if they keep vomiting for a period of more than 24 hours, get that pet to the vet right away. They may have eaten something toxic or have other severe digestive issues.

Licking a specific spot

Some pets just love to lick, but if the focus of their licking has turned to be on one specific spot, it’s time to worry about it. They may be experiencing pain in that area, have a small wound, or be experiencing skin issues that you cannot see through the fur. Be sure to investigate the behaviour and proceed with seeking veterinary care as needed.


If your pet had developed a sustained cough, it could mean many different things, and you should be wary of nearly all of those. While they may just be experiencing something like humans do when we have a cold, they might be suffering from a collapsing trachea or bronchitis. Different types of coughing can also mean different things, so send a video to your vet if at all possible.

They’re lying about

Is your pet uninterested in play and reluctant to even get up for their favourite treat? Something is probably amiss. It’s normal for them to be a little lazier when it’s hot outside, but if they’re failing to demonstrate normal levels of energy and activity, they might be dealing with serious issues. Infections, heart conditions, and joint pain can all be reasons for decreased activity, so don’t wait and see if they get better naturally.


If you’ve had your pet for some time, they probably love and trust you. This is why hiding, lying in unusual places and low to the ground should come as a surprise. If your pet feels like they have something to hide, then it could be that they’re keeping their pain from you because they don’t want to concern you or they know treatment will be even more painful.

They’re losing hair

Hair loss in pets does not occur the same way it does in humans. If your pet’s hair is falling out in patches and you can see sparse or bare patches appearing, they are probably unwell. The likely causes of such issues are skin infections or allergies that your pet is susceptible to. It’s a good idea to get your pet to the vet to see what needs to change.

They’re not eating

When a pet doesn’t eat a lot, many owners tend to assume that they are accidentally giving too much food, or that their pet is finally gaining control over their appetite. This is not the case at all. It is good for animals to have a healthy appetite and to finish their food, provided they are given the correct amount. Not eating can mean that they are feeling unwell.


Is your pet constantly scratching at themselves? They shouldn’t be. A little itch every now and then isn’t any different than what we experience, but continuing to scratch means something else is going on. Your pet might have fleas or a rash that they can’t help but go at to the endless and frustrating situation. Check out their skin to see what they’re experiencing.

They can’t urinate

You might be taking your pet out regularly and providing them with everything they need, but if they still aren’t urinating, something is seriously wrong. Chances are your pet is trying their best, but if nothing is coming out they’re probably experiencing a lot of pain and likely have a blockage preventing them from doing their business. This is an urgent situation.

They’re shaking their head

Shaking off after getting wet is standard practice for dogs in particular. What shouldn’t be happening though is your pet just shaking their head with any intensity without a direct visible reason. Pets will often shake their heads if they are experiencing irritation in their ears, sometimes resulting from ear infections.

Dull or red eyes

Healthy eyes in pets will be shiny and will not struggle to focus. The eye around the iris should be white. If your pet’s eyes are looking cloudy or the whites of their eyes have gone red, they are dealing with eye issues. This could be an infection or other irritation, but the vet should be able to help you further.

Lumps under the skin

You should check your pets regularly to see if they have any lumps and bumps under their skin. This does not mean that your pet definitely has cancer if you do find something, as there are many things that can cause lumps. Regardless, these lumps could be a danger and you should head to the vet to get them checked out properly.


If your pet is the kind that has a tendency to shiver, you probably don’t need to worry too much. However, if you’re not used to your animal shivering on a daily basis, they could just be pretty ill. Shivering can be a sign of fever in animals the same way it can in people. Make sure to check your pet’s temperature and treat them accordingly.

They’re gaining weight

Weight gain is often directly correlated to feeding your pet too much food. That is why there is often confusion when a pet gains weight without being overfed. If this is happening to your beloved critter, know it is not your fault. The most likely cause here is thyroid problems. A trip to the vet can put you on the right track with medication and extra advice.


Many pets are social creatures. That’s what lead to their domestication, after all. If your generally friendly pet is avoiding you and everyone else, they might be ill. The mind and body are closely linked, so your pet choosing not to be social when that is normally their favourite thing indicated that something is physically wrong with them as well.

Dull coat

A healthy mammal will have a thick and shiny coat (hairless breeds excluded of course). If your pet’s coat is lacking its usual lustrous shine or looks oddly dry, then they might be unwell. They may be dealing with skin dryness or other issues, or their diet may just not be as suited to them as it could be. Regardless, a vet’s advice will help with this matter.

Matted fur in cats

Cats groom themselves, as any cat owner knows. Cats who are sick or in pain are less likely to have the energy to actively groom themselves. If your cat’s fur is getting out of hand, there is a high chance that they’re not feeling their best at the moment. Get them checked out at the vet to see what they’re needing right now.

Hard, dry stool

While diarrhoea can be an indication of illness, the opposite can be just as true. If your pet’s stool texture has become hard and dry, they are likely unwell, especially if this texture is consistent. In fact, this can be the earliest symptom of a kidney infection. Make sure it doesn’t progress by taking your pet to get checked out.

Ear discharge

Your pet’s ears should be clean and clear at all times, though a little excess wax is no cause for concern. If your animal friend has unusual discharge coming out of their ears, you should be worried. Ear discharge is a sign of an ear infection, or could even be indicative of ear mites. Not only is this bad for your pet, but it is also highly uncomfortable.

A more vocal cat

Cats are generally pretty quiet, only letting out a meow when they’re particularly excited, irritated, or sore. If your cat is being more vocal than they generally are, then they might be trying to tell you something. Vocalising is one way for animals to communicate their needs to you, and those needs can be related to their health.

Trouble on steps or jumping

Pets should have high levels of mobility throughout their lives. If their ability to use stairs or jump like they normally do has been affected, then they could be suffering from joint or ligament pains, or even arthritis. You should take care of their movements and take them to the vet to discover solutions.


You know the size your pet is, and you know the size and proportions of their body parts. This should not change unless advised by a veterinary professional. If you notice swelling in part of your pet’s body, you should seek care for them immediately. It indicates a serious issue and stress being put on that part of their body.

Difficulty eating

Mealtime should be something your pet enjoys. Eating should be a source of pleasure and not pain for them. If your animal is chewing particularly slowly, leaving the crunchiest parts of the meal behind, or otherwise having trouble eating, they might be having issues with their teeth or jaw that need attended to as soon as possible.

Teeth grinding in rabbits

While grinding one’s teeth as a human can be put down to a bad habit, it is a much more serious sign when it comes to rabbits. Rabbits will frequently grind their teeth to deal with experiencing pain. If your rabbit is demonstrating this behaviour, they need to be seen to immediately, because they are already dealing with intense pain that must be investigated.

Dry nose

Pets, dogs in particular, are healthiest when they have a damp and shiny nose. If your dog’s nose is dry it’s a sign that they are dehydrated, which can cause other issues. Make sure to keep your dog’s water bowl full and make sure they are drinking from it periodically throughout the day in order to keep their nose wet and their body healthy.

Very hot or cold ears

This is easiest to monitor in pets with reasonably sized ears, but their ear temperature can be a good indicator of their health. If their ears are too hot or cold, it’s a sign that the rest of their body is too. They might be cold or be suffering from a high temperature. If this persists, they should see a vet.

Constant mouth breathing

It is normal for pets to breath through their mouths sometimes. Dogs in particular have a tendency to pant when it’s warm or they’re excited. However, persistent mouth breathing, particularly in cats and rabbits, is a sign if distress. This can result from a stressful environment, but can also be due to pain or other ailments. It is important to check with your vet to see what can be done to calm your furry friend.

Hard, rounded abdomen

Some of the signs on this list are simply things to look out for, but this one is an urgent call to action. If your pet’s abdomen is distended and hardened, they are likely already suffering. This could be due to severe digestive issues or an inability to pass gas. Either way, an urgent trip to the vet is required to ease their pain and set things right.

Sleeping more than normal

Pets are a lot like humans. When we are going through something, rest is one of the best ways to help us recover, or the way our body responds to ailments. If you notice your pet is sleeping even more than they normally do, you may want to get a vet to have a look at them. It could be due to health issues, which is not a risk you want to take.

Lack of coordination

Pets can be a little clumsy at times, but they should never seem completely uncoordinated. If they are swaying back and forth, running in excessive circles, or tilting their head extreme amounts, they might be experiencing a bad sense of balance. This can be an indicator of other health issues and should be taken seriously.

Scooting with front legs

If your pet is scooting about, dragging their rear behind them, something’s up. The most common cause of this is that they’re itching back there which often happens when they are affected by worms. Make sure you are keeping up with your pet’s worming treatments and the problem should take care of itself, but a trip to the vet never hurts.

Cats pressing head against a wall

When cats are in extreme distress, they can press their heads against the wall for extended periods of time. The most likely ailment paired with this symptom is rabies, which may come as a surprise. That is why you should see a vet immediately if your cat is exhibiting this behaviour.

Increased aggression

If your usually friendly pet is acting aggressive, it’s likely to not be your fault. An unwell pet may become more aggressive due to wanting to protect their body, or just because they don’t know how to react to feeling physically different which can cause them to lash out. They may also want more time alone which, if infringed upon, may also add to their aggression. If your pet is acting aggressive, particularly if the change is sudden, you should be worried.

Laboured breathing

Breathing should come naturally to all creatures. It should not cause pain and shouldn’t be something that you even have to think about. The same goes for your pet. If your can hear your pet’s breathing being loud and laboured, then they are having difficulty with it. This is particularly common in certain breeds, but should always be checked out by a vet if it is occurring, just to be safest.

Wet patches

If your pet has wet patches on their fur, it is an indication that they have been licking or gnawing at those spots but have been hiding this behaviour. Hiding a certain behaviour shows that your pet knows they shouldn’t be doing it or that they are avoiding further treatment such as going to the vet. This further indicates that they should in fact be checked out for skin conditions and wounds.

Dry gums

While a wet nose can be an indicator of hydration, it is not always the most reliable, as a dog with a dry nose may still be well hydrated internally. However, a dog with dry gums is certainly dehydrated. If your dog has dry gums, you should be looking into the cause of dehydration and get them checked at the vet.

Not sleeping

A lot of pets do sleep more when they’re unwell since their body is making the effort to recover. However, they may also sleep significantly less if an illness is keeping them up. Getting enough sleep is crucial for many pets who sleep 16 hours a day or more, so if you notice that they aren’t taking their usual naps, pay attention to what else could be wrong.

Sneezing and sniffling

Many pets are more similar to us than you might think which means that yes, your pooch can catch a cold too. While a cold is not too much cause for concern, make sure to accommodate for energy levels and extra need for hydration in your pet for the next few days. Sniffles in a rabbit can be somewhat more concerning, so see a vet in this case.

Increased appetite

You should feel confident in your pet’s health if they have a healthy appetite and are enjoying their food. However, an increased appetite can also be concerning. If you notice your critter eating much faster and wanting a lot more food than they usually do, they could be experiencing hormonal issues or even diabetes. A pet consistently eating much more should be looked at by a vet.