Spotting Symptoms of Common Pet Diseases

A cat being held by a vet
13 Mar 2018

What do you do if your pet starts acting unusual? Do you search for their symptoms online? We’ve teamed up with White Cross Vets, and found that 75% of cat and dog owners use search engines to check their pet’s symptoms online, before seeking veterinary advice.

Working with Andrew Miller, Veterinary Surgeon at White Cross Vets, we can reveal the pros and cons of using the internet to diagnose your pets, as well as advice on the early stage symptoms to look out for in three common pet diseases.


How to Spot Early Stage Symptoms of Common Pet Illnesses:


Arthritis simply means ‘inflammation of the joints’. It’s a common problem for many dogs and cats, particularly as they get older. Pets with the condition can feel extremely uncomfortable, so you may notice if they’re suffering.

This disease causes pain and stiffness, meaning your four-legged friend might be unwilling to exercise and play as much as they used to. Some pets, especially dogs, may lick aggressively and continuously in the place where they’re suffering from a painful joint. If you notice your pet limping, this might also mean that they’re having joint trouble, which could potentially be arthritis. They may also become irritable when you try and touch them. Another possible sign is sleeping a lot more than usual.

Many pets find anti-inflammatory therapy beneficial, as it can help to reduce joint inflammation and pain. As well as therapy, vets can prescribe your pet with a variety of steroids, pain relief medication and supplements to help ease the discomfort.



Aside from the obvious observation of weight gain, an unwillingness to exercise as much as they used to is also a sign of a potential obesity problem. You can assess your pet’s body shape by looking at their ribs and feeling down their side. If you can’t feel every rib, it may be because of excess fat. You should make sure you can feel every rib, but not see them.

Obesity can be caused by a pet’s imbalance between energy intake and usage, meaning they’re likely to be eating more than they’re burning off. One way to treat obesity is to reduce their calorie intake through a diet and increase their exercise regime.

Diets that are rich in protein and fibre but low in fat are generally recommended, however, every animal’s body is different, so it’s advisable to seek veterinary advice before putting your pet on a diet.

Increasing your cat or dog’s physical activity can be a factor when it comes to trying to overcome obesity. For dogs, regular walks and playing games, such as fetch, can help them live a healthier and happier lifestyle. You also need to encourage your feline friend to stay active, and you can do this by providing them with climbing and scratching towers, building a play pen outside, and by dedicating to a daily playtime with them. 



Pancreatitis, which means inflammation of the pancreas, can be caused by a number of things, including high levels of fat or calcium in the blood, trauma to the pancreas and obesity. There are two main types of pancreatitis, one being a lot more dangerous than the other. Acute pancreatitis is less aggressive and will allow the pancreas to heal completely, whereas chronic pancreatitis may cause long-lasting or permanent damage. There are many symptoms to keep an eye out for.

Pancreatitis can cause a lack of appetite, so if your pet is unwilling to eat, this may be a sign that there are underlying problems. Further symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, dehydration, fatigue, depression, and have difficulty breathing. There’s also a physical sign to look out for. Your pet may show a very hunched or arched back if suffering from pancreatitis, suggesting some pain in the abdomen.

These signs can be subtler in cats. Your cat may seek refuge and hide a lot, and may even experience jaundice. Remember though, if your dog or cat is showing any of these symptoms, you should go to the vets straight away, so they can do a thorough examination.

Every pet is different, meaning illnesses and diseases will affect them in unique ways. Symptoms can relate to a variety of different diseases, particularly in the early stages, so it’s always best to seek veterinary advice. An internet search may help to give you a possible diagnosis, but we’d always recommend seeing your vet for further information and treatment.

To cover any illnesses or diseases in both dogs and cats, you should always have suitable pet insurance. Here at Asda Money we have a range of pet insurance cover types available. Find out more about Asda Money Pet Insurance here. Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered. 

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