There are degrees of ill health ranging from the animal that is merely "off-colour" to one that is desperately ill. An animal that looks "not quite right" should be observed closely until it appears fully recovered. If it is incubating a serious disease, an early diagnosis could save the animal. By checking the vital signs of the animal, the owner can receive early warning that something is amiss. Seriously ill animals must receive immediate and urgent veterinary attention.

The first sign that an animal is becoming sick is that it picks at or refuses food. It may drink more or less water than normal, depending on the illness. The eyes will be dull, and on closer inspection, the mucous membranes may have changed colour. Deep red membranes indicate fever; pale membranes show anaemia; yellow membranes indicate a liver disorder, while blue-red membranes show heart and circulatory problems, or pneumonia.

The coat may look dull and dry. The animal might be sweating (except for dogs). A cold sweat indicates pain while a hot sweat indicates fever. If the animal is in pain it will probably be restless (getting up and down and pacing about) and it might even be groaning.

The animal will either scour (i.e. pass very loose droppings), or will become constipated and pass no droppings at all. The passing of urine might also cease. A very sick animal will lie down for long periods and will not get up when approached.

The vital signs of a sick animal will change. The temperature may go up or down. A rise in temperature of one or two degrees usually indicates pain, while a rise of more usually indicates infection.

The rate of respiration, and the way the animal breathes could also show changes. With pain or infection, breathing becomes more rapid. In a very sick animal, breathing can be laboured and shallow.

A slightly increased pulse rate suggests pain, while a rapid pulse suggests fever. An irregular pulse can indicate heart trouble. In a very sick animal, the pulse is weak and feeble.

Animal owners should consistently check pets for signs of health or ill-health. Aside from the above vital signs, the following should be monitored:

  •  General condition – weight and body condition
  •  Sluggishness
  •  Movement or Gait – check for lameness
  •  Appetite
  •  Excessive Thirst
  •  Weight Loss
  •  Eyes
  •  Ears
  •  Mouth
  •  Coat
  •  Skin
  •  Head
  •  Teeth
  •  Limbs
  •  Trunk
  •  Mucus membranes
  •  Swellings
  •  Excitability
  •  Slobbering
  •  Discharge
  •  Urination
  •  Diarrhoea
  •  Breathing
  •  Vomiting


Learn to Care for Animals Naturally with our Natural Health Care Course

This course has eight lessons covering the following:

  1. Introduction to Natural Animal Health Care
    • Limitations of Conventional Medicine
    • Holistic Treatments
    • Homeopathy
    • Flower Essences
    • Naturopathy
    • Natural Nutrition
    • Tactile Therapy (Massage, Equine Tactile Therapy, Bowen Therapy, Canine Myofunctional Therapy, Physiotherapy, Shiatsu, Reflexology, Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Acapuncture, Microcurrent, Microwave Therapies, Ayurvedic Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine)
    • Benefits of Natural Health Care
    • Codes of Practice for Animal Welfare
    • Health & Safety in Veterinary Practice (Separating Animals, Infectious Diseases, Containing Disease, Disposal of Dead/Infected Tissues, Dangerous non-Animal Wastes, Storage & Handling of Supplements/Equipment).
  2. Signs of Ill Health
    • Normal Vital Signs
    • Recognising ill health
    • Disease Diagnosis
    • Homeopathic Remedies
    • Signs of Shock
    • Signs of Internal Bleeding
    • Signs of Poisoning
    • First Aid
  3. Natural Nutrition for Animals
    • The effect of Modern Living on Domestic Animals
    • Processed Pet Foods
    • Affect of Poor Nutrition on Animal Behaviour
    • Good Nutrition for Domesticated Animals (Carbohydrates, Proten, Fats/Lipids, Minerals, Vitamins, Supplements, Recipes)
    • Nutritional Problems in Animals (Allergies, Dermatitis, Overweight, Underweight, Liver Disease)
    • Livestock Mineral supplements for farm animals, Nutritional Supplements
  4. Holistic Health Care - Maintaining Health
    • Creating a Healthy Environment (Domestic pets, Livestock)
    • Health Maintenance
    • Preventing Arthritis in Dogs
    • The Vaccination Debate
    • Pet Dental Care
    • Flea Control
    • Disease Prevention in Livestock
    • Preventing Disease in Poultry
    • Avian Influenza
  5. Holistic Health Care - Treating Health Problems
    • Naturopathic Treatment
    • Homeopathic Treatment
    • Herbalism
    • Treating Common Ailments (Arthritis, Skin Problems, Digestive Complaints, Diabetes, Dental Problems )
    • Pain Management
    • Identifying Pain
    • Pain Relief Medication
    • Herbal Treatments
    • Homeopathy
    • Flower Essences
    • Physical Therapy
    • Equine Tactile Therapy
    • Bowen Therapy
    • Canine Myofunctional Therapy
    • Behavioural Problems (Dogs-excessive barking, digging, aggression, phobias; Cats; urine spraying, scratching furniture, aggression)
    • Birds
  6. Animal Diseases & Health Problems (Domestic Animals)
    • Dogs; Distemper, Heartworm, Parvo virus, Hydatid Disease
    • Cats; Ringworm, Feline Aids - Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Hairballs, Feline Herpes Virus or Cat Flu;
    • Rodents; Respiratory problems and Mycoplasma, Abscesses
    • Reptiles; Mouth Rot or Canker (Stomatitis); cytoparasites (Mites), Pneumonia,
    • Fish
    • Cage Birds, etc
  7. Animal Diseases & Health Problems (Livestock)
    • Notifiable Diseases
    • Control of Internal Parasites, Horses (Tentnus, Lock Jaw, Strangles, Parasites, Colic, Equine Influenza)
    • Cattle (Parasites, Mastitis)
    • Pigs (Exudative Epidermitis of pigs (Greasy Pig), Leptospirosis, Parasites)
    • Sheep (Enterotoxemia (Pulpy Kidney), Cutaneous Myiasis (Blow Fly strike))
    • Poultry (Newcastle Disease (NCD), Yolk Sac Infection, Infectious Bronchitis (IB))
  8. Animal Health Care Case Study Research Project
    • Evaluate symptoms of ill-health displayed by an animal, determine the problem and decide on a natural course of treatment for the specific health problem suffered by the animal.
    • Develop a management plan that the owner of the animal can undertake to help treat the problem and relieve associated pain and discomfort.

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