Letter from the President

As we enter the Spring season, pets are out and about, exposing themselves to more potential illnesses. For pets that are indoor only pets, we bring in other potential hazards on shoes and clothing.

When in doubt, bringing pets to the vet can provide peace of mind to address concerns but what constitutes a needed veterinary exam?

WebMD offers guidelines to help you do your best to assess the medical needs of your companion animal.
According to experts, pets demonstrate symptoms through changes in behavior and with physical signs – the following are Red Flag behaviors:
• Vomiting or Diarrhea
• Lack of Appetite or Decreased Activity
• Urinating More or Less Frequently
• Coughing
• Stiffness, Lameness, or Difficulty With Rising

Vomiting or Diarrhea
“A pet that vomits, especially several times in one day, acts lethargic, and lacks appetite needs a veterinarian’s attention. Another serious pet symptom: blood in the vomit or throwing up digested blood that looks like coffee grounds. Gastric ulcers can cause bloody vomit, and so can swallowing a foreign object that irritates the stomach. Veterinarians tell WebMD that they have treated dogs and cats that have gulped down sharp bones, socks, underwear, mittens, towels, string, tinsel, corn cobs, fish hooks, and toy soldiers. Vomiting or diarrhea can stem from many other causes, too, including gastrointestinal illnesses or parasite infections that include hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, or giardia. Blood in the stool is also a warning sign that a pet needs to see the vet. To prevent human exposure to parasites, such as hookworms and roundworms, do regular de-worming of pets.”

Lack of Appetite or Decreased Activity
“These two pet symptoms are vague, but if they persist, a veterinarian should check for causes. Dogs and cats stop eating for a host of reasons, including fever, pain, or stress. A reduced or absent appetite, especially if it lasts for more than 24 hours, is a reason to bring your animal to the veterinarian. Typically, cats suffer more dire consequences when they stop eating. A dog may be picky and doesn’t eat his dinner because he’s waiting for human food but with cats, you’ve got to be really careful because if they just even go a couple of days without eating, especially an overweight cat, they can develop fatty liver. In this potentially fatal disease, excessive accumulation of fat in the liver can cause liver failure. A cat that stops eating should see a vet promptly because fatty liver needs to be treated immediately.

What about the cat or dog whose energy level drops? It’s just one of those very vague things that tell us that something is not right. Many things can cause lethargy, including major problems, such as heart disease. A pet whose lethargy can’t be pinned on an obvious reason, such as from an extra-long run at the dog park, may need to visit the vet, especially if other symptoms arise, such as change in exercise tolerance, weakness, collapse, or loss of consciousness.”

Urinating More or Less Frequently
“Excessive thirst and urination might spell diabetes. But increased urination may also signal liver or kidney disease or adrenal gland disease. With increased urination, housebroken pets might start wetting inside the house. Or a dog that usually sleeps through the night may suddenly needs nocturnal bathroom trips. An owner might notice, too, that he or she is filling the water bowl more often. In contrast, too little urination, or straining to urinate, often signals a urinary tract problem or bladder stones. These are urgent reasons, especially for cats, to see the vet.”

“Coughing, especially if it’s persistent, is one of those pet symptoms that need to be evaluated. Chronic coughing may be related to heart disease, heartworms, or lung diseases. Or a dog may have kennel cough, an infectious tracheobronchitis that causes a harsh, hacking cough. For most dogs, kennel cough is mild — a nuisance that goes away within two weeks. If a puppy or dog with kennel cough develops more serious symptoms, such as fever, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, lethargy, or a productive cough, it may be getting pneumonia.”

Stiffness, Lameness, or Difficulty with Rising
“Pets that suffer stiffness, lameness, inability to bear weight on one leg, or trouble rising from the ground may have hip or spine arthritis, disc disease, ruptured ligaments, or hip dysplasia. Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, can also cause arthritis. In hip dysplasia, the hip joint develops abnormally, leading to degenerative joint disease. Treatments range from glucosamine and NSAIDs to exercise, physical therapy, and surgery.”
For more information on keeping your pets healthy and safe, please visit

Wishing you and yours a healthy season!
Jennifer Brown
President, VSAS

Disclaimer of Liability and Endorsement: The views expressed in the Verona Street News are those of its authors and do not constitute the views of the City of Rochester, Friends of Verona Street Animal Shelter, Inc. or their Agents. The content herein is provided for informational purposes only. Dissemination by the City of Rochester and Friends of Verona Street Animal Shelter, Inc. does not constitute an endorsement of the author’s views, products or services..