What Would You Do?

I recently came across a paper titled “Internet users’ perception of importance of clinical signs commonly seen in old animals with age-related diseases”. The study concluded that many people have difficulty accurately assessing the importance of their pets’ symptoms. For example, 14% of those surveyed indicated that they would not seek veterinary attention if they noticed that their pet had red/pink colored urine, a sure symptom of a significant problem within the urinary tract.

I am curious to know how you, my well informed readers, would evaluate various observations pertaining to your pets. I offer you this little challenge quiz. Share your responses with me publicly or privately, and your name will be entered into a drawing to receive a signed copy of Speaking for Spot or Your Dog’s Best Health. I will provide my preferred responses to these questions along with explanations in a followup blog post. Thanks in advance for your participation!

Observations

For each of the following observations, indicate the course of action you would choose. When I use the word “pet” I am referring to a dog or a cat.

1. It’s 8:00 at night and your pet just vomited some fluid mixed with food. He seems perfectly normal otherwise, and you know of nothing unusual that he might have eaten.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

2. For the past few weeks you’ve been needing to fill your pet’s water bowl more frequently than normal. Your pet seems completely normal otherwise.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

3. Your pet just had what looked like a seizure. The episode lasted approximately 30 seconds. He appeared completely normal both before and immediately following the seizure. He’s never done anything like this before, and you know of nothing unusual (toxic) he could have been exposed to.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

4. Your normally very well house-trained dog or litterbox-trained cat has urinated two times on your bathroom rug. He seems completely normal otherwise.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

5. Your pet suddenly appears more tired than usual, and his tongue seems pale. He seems completely normal otherwise.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

6. For the past week your pet has been eating his normal amount of food, but is nibbling throughout the day rather than consuming the entire meal in one sitting as he normally would. He seems completely normal otherwise.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

7. For the past two days your pet has has had a mild limp. Your thorough inspection of the leg did not identify anything abnormal. He seems completely normal otherwise.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

8.  Your pet growled at you when you attempted to move him from the couch to the floor. This is something he’s never done before. He seems completely normal otherwise.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

9.  Your normally ravenous pet showed no interest in his breakfast this morning. He seems completely normal otherwise.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

10.  It’s bedtime and your pet is breathing heavily and doesn’t want to lie down. He seemed completely normal throughout the day.

  1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
  2. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
  3. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
  4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

Be sure to look for my suggested responses to these scenarios in one week. Don’t forget to share your responses to be included in the book drawing.

Are there other pet observations you wish I had included? If so, tell me what they are and we can discuss what the appropriate response to that observation would be.

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

45 Comments on “What Would You Do?

  1. 1=1
    2=3
    4-3
    5=4
    6=3
    7=3
    8=4
    9=1
    10=4

  2. 1 – 1
    2 – 3
    3 – 4
    4 – 3
    5 – 3
    6 – 2
    7 – 3
    8 – 1
    9 – 1
    10 – 2
    Of course the answers could change depending on the actual stress level of our dogs, we never hesitate to err on the side of caution when it comes to our girls.

  3. 1 – 1
    2 – 3
    3 – 4
    4 – 3
    5 – 3
    6 – 2
    7 – 3
    8 – 1
    9 – 1
    10 – 2

  4. 1. 1- watchful waiting.

    2. 3- schedule an appointment. This is a sign of diabetes, among other issues, and not to be taken lightly.

    3. 2 or 3. Depending on what i know of the dog’s personal and familial history, I’d try and make a judgment call on how severe the issue might be.

    4. Again, not a straightforward question. First, I’d try and determine if something in the environment has changed, and if that’s fixable. In that case it would be 1- wait and see.

    If there isn’t anything obvious in the environment, and it doesn’t happen again after removing the odor, it’s still a 1.

    If it keeps happening, then that would change my response to 3, make an appointment to see if there’s a medical reason for the change in behavior.

    5. 4- this could be caused by something very serious, like internal bleeding, and needs to be addressed immediately.

    6. 1? or 3? Sometimes stressors in the environment, or a change in schedules can be the culprit for an especially sensitive or nervous animal. But if that’s not the case, a lack of appetite could indicate something as serious as a partial blockage in the digestive tract, and that’s serious.

    7. 1. Too many times, a mild limp can be a strained muscle from rowdy play, slipping on the ice, or whatever.

    8. 3. None of my animals would do this without a really good reason, like being in a lot of pain. Dogs and cats can be pretty stoic about showing that pain, so it might not be obvious otherwise, though, so my not seeing any other sign wouldn’t be unusual. If it’s not life or death, they go in in the morning, after making them as comfortable as possible in the meantime.

    9. 1. Not being hungry for only one meal may mean that the dog, especially, has gotten into a food container and is already full. 😉

    10. 4.

  5. I would add dogs/cats who have diarrhea. How often it happens, consistency,etc. What is a reasonable length of time before becoming concerned enough to think a vet’s advice/care is needed? How about cat’s vomiting up their food? Contents? Fur, liquid etc? A lot of owners think this is always normal, but sometimes it does mean there is a problem.

  6. 1. 1

    2. 2

    3. 3

    4. 1

    5. 4

    6. 2

    7. 3

    8. 1

    9. 1

    10. 4

    My veterinary office is welcoming of calls for advice, however they usually advise to bring the pet in for a quick check as this yields the best and most thorough examination. The most vexing position is when we are traveling, do not know the vet there and have a problem. This happened to us once with an encounter with a bee hive and multiple stings to our dogs.

  7. I couldn’t answer these questions. Not because I didn’t know what might or might not be going on, but because it all depends on the services available to you and the particular pet. And the experience you’ve had with previous pets. My vet closes at 4:30. My vet is not always available off hours. Emergency services are 1 1/2 hours away and if it’s a true emergency you might not make it there on time. For me, it’s not an issue of driving across town. Pink urine at 10 at night warrants an immediate appt the next day, unless it’s a male cat, in which case immediate care is needed. A pale tongue means anemia and in my current situation means the hemangiosarcoma tumors I suspect are regrowing (surgery already done) are bleeding. I’d call my vet in that case, even at 3 in the morning, because it’s time. Seizures – a difficult call. I drove like a bat out of hell once to the vet with my dog still seizing and they could find nothing. Seizures happened off and on for a year then quit. Many of these issues that seem like emergencies would warrant a call to the vet, if he was open. I’ve found, though, that sometimes things seem like emergencies because it’s off hours, a weekend or a holiday and there’s no answers available.

    Plus, because of the people reading this blog, you’re not going to get the “oh the vet gave him a jab, don’t know what it was” answer!

    Cathy
    I hate Captcha. What is that blob? What kind of letter is that?

  8. 1. 1

    2. 3

    3. 3 would take next day

    4. 3

    5. 2 I would call my vet, I have his cell number

    6. 1

    7. 1

    8. 1

    9. 1 (24 hours if pet remains normal)

    10. 4

  9. 1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 2
    5. 4
    6. 1
    7. 1
    8. 2
    9. 1
    10. 4

  10. One I would add is “My cat/dog is squinting and has green colored discharge from that eye. What should I do?” (I have had to answer this question more than once working in a vet clinic.) People are often not sure what to do about bloody diarrhea either.

  11. Here are my answers:
    1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 4
    4. 3
    5. 4
    6. 3
    7. 3
    8. 3
    9. 3*
    10. 4

    *The reason this is more than a ‘watch and wait’ for me is because I have had Bernese Mt. Dogs for 22 years, and in my experience if a Berner does not want to eat, something is likely very wrong. It is my experience w/Berners that was the impetus for most of my answers. I also have had cats, and other breeds of dogs that I might have answered a bit differently for some of the questions.

  12. I love these quizzes, they are thought provoking.

    1. 1.
    2. 3
    3. 4
    4. 1
    5. 4.
    6. 3.
    7. 1
    8. 1
    9. 1
    10. 3

  13. Thanks for this! I didn’t know about tongue color as a symptom, so I’ve learned something already, and look forward to your answers.

    I’ve never regretted taking a dog or a cat to the vet ‘just to be safe.’ And I don’t ‘call for advice’ unless it’s about an existing condition under treatment.
    1
    3
    3
    3
    3
    1
    3
    3
    3
    3

  14. 1 Watchful waiting (1)
    2.Call the clinic for advice (2.)
    3.Call the clinic.for advice (2)
    4. Make an appointment (3)
    5 Make an appointment (3)
    6.Call clinic for advice.(2)
    7.Watchful waiting. (1)
    8.Make an appointment. (3)
    9.Watchful waiting.(1)
    10.Take your pet immediately vet clinic .(4)

  15. 1/1 Dogs do throw up from time to time and if there was just one time throw up I wouldn’t consider that an emergency with absence of other warning signs.

    2/3

    3/2

    4/3

    5/4

    6/3

    7/1 With our vast experience with limps; sometimes they are mild strains/sprains and go away on their own.

    8/3

    9/1

    10/4

  16. 1-1
    2-3
    3-4
    4-3
    5-3
    6-1
    7-3
    8-3
    9-1
    10-2

    I think the responses will change a little bit depending on the owner’s experience and how well they know their dog. For instance, one of mine is a stress vomiter. He had ongoing and very thorough investigations (x-rays, bloodwork, etc) when we first got him as an adult dog, and this was the conclusion. Therefore, I wouldn’t worry so much about him throwing up a little liquid mixed with food as I would a dog who never vomited unless he was ill. I also have an older tripod with pain issues, so if he were pacing and panting late at night, I’d conclude he had done a little too much during the day and give him extra pain medication. However, I do know how to recognise the signs of a seriously ill dog, and would not hesitate to take them to the vet if they presented them.

  17. 1.
    Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.

    2. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.

    3. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

    4. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.

    5. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.

    6. .Do some “watchful waiting”.

    7. .Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.

    8. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.

    9. 1.Do some “watchful waiting”.

    10. Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Follow Spot Fac

  18. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 3
    4. 3
    5. 4
    6. 3
    7. 3
    8. I would have offered option no 5…seek out a behaviorist. However if I called the vet (2) they would probably suggest that as well.
    9. 1
    10. 4
    Suggested question – your dog is scratching like crazy and it appears that his/ her face is swelling…you may also notice hives popping up on the legs- get to the vet immediately – allergic reaction ( my Casey was allergic to bee stings and I almost lost her once. Fortunately I recognized what was happening and broke every speed limit getting her to the vet!

  19. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 4
    4. 3
    5. 4
    6. 3
    7. 3
    8. 2
    9. 3
    10. 4

  20. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 3
    4. 3
    5. 4
    6. 2
    7.3
    8. 1
    9. 1
    10. 4

  21. all of my responses are assuming that my becoming aware of the situation is afterhours.
    my calling to schedule apt would be almost the same as calling for advice….
    appointment would likely be same day.
    I have a very good relationship with my vet hospital with good communication.

    1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 3 would probably stay up all night watching and if anything changed or worsened go to Emergency
    4. 3
    5. 3
    6. 1
    7. 1
    8. 3
    9. 1
    10. 1 then 4 (thinking bloat)

  22. 1. 2
    2. 1
    3. 1
    4. 1
    5. 2
    6. 1
    7. 3
    8. 1
    9. 1
    10. 2

  23. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 2
    4. 3
    5. 2
    6. 2
    7. 1
    8. 1
    9. 1
    10. 2

  24. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 4
    4. 3 (#4 if done while I was watching them)
    5. 2
    6. 2
    7. 3
    8. 3
    9. 1 if a cat, 3 if a dog (and would request to be worked in that same day)
    10.4

  25. 1 – “1”
    2 – “3”
    3 – “4”
    4 – “3”
    5 – “4”
    6 – “3”
    7 – “3”
    8 – “3”
    9 – “1”
    10 – “4”

    I would have made the multiple choice answers letters :) .

    I would have included a pooping episode where there is massive phlegm included. I don’t think people check their dogs’ BM’s as often nor often enough. “The proof is in the poop!”……so to speak. Or, what about the dog hasn’t pooped in a couple of days and is throwing up it’s meals and you can’t find that washcloth that used to be on the chair?

  26. 1 – 1
    2 – 3
    3 – 2
    4 – 3
    5 – 1
    6 – 3
    7 – 1
    8 – 3
    9 – 1
    10-2

  27. I preface this by saying that I have had 13 companion animals, and fostered over 50 dogs, including hospice ones, so I have experienced quite a bit. My motto has always been: When in doubt, go to the vet.

    Also, when calling any local emergency hospital, their stock response is: “you better bring them in so we can check” I think this has more to do with liability issues rather than greed.

    1. It’s 8:00 at night and your pet just vomited some fluid mixed with food. He seems perfectly normal otherwise, and you know of nothing unusual that he might have eaten.

    Do some “watchful waiting”.

    2. For the past few weeks you’ve been needing to fill your pet’s water bowl more frequently than normal. Your pet seems completely normal otherwise.

    Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.

    3. Your pet just had what looked like a seizure. The episode lasted approximately 30 seconds. He appeared completely normal both before and immediately following the seizure. He’s never done anything like this before, and you know of nothing unusual (toxic) he could have been exposed to.

    Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

    4. Your normally very well house-trained dog or litterbox-trained cat has urinated two times on your bathroom rug. He seems completely normal otherwise.

    Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.

    5. Your pet suddenly appears more tired than usual, and his tongue seems pale. He seems completely normal otherwise.

    Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

    6. For the past week your pet has been eating his normal amount of food, but is nibbling throughout the day rather than consuming the entire meal in one sitting as he normally would. He seems completely normal otherwise.

    Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.

    7. For the past two days your pet has has had a mild limp. Your thorough inspection of the leg did not identify anything abnormal. He seems completely normal otherwise.

    Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.

    8. Your pet growled at you when you attempted to move him from the couch to the floor. This is something he’s never done before. He seems completely normal otherwise.

    None of my dogs would ever growl at me; something is seriously painful:
    Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

    9. Your normally ravenous pet showed no interest in his breakfast this morning. He seems completely normal otherwise.

    Do some “watchful waiting”.

    10. It’s bedtime and your pet is breathing heavily and doesn’t want to lie down. He seemed completely normal throughout the day.

    Do some “watchful waiting”. IF IT CONTINUES FOR MORE THAN 1 HOUR:

    head to your local pet emergency hospital.

  28. 1=1
    2=3
    3=2
    4=3
    5=4
    6=3
    7=3
    8=8
    9=1
    10=2

  29. 1 – 1 sometimes they eat too fast and bring some food/stomach juices up.
    2 – 3 more water might indicate diabetes & I wouldn’t wait before scheduling an exam.
    3 – 4
    4 – 1 Wash the rug in vinegar & see if it happens again.
    5 – 3 ASAP to rule out anemia, heart & other major medical issues.
    6 – 2 Both my dog & cat get picky/finicky from time to time; I would call or email our veterinarian for advice.
    7 – 1
    8. – 3 Especially if your dog is very docile; for me this is a good reason for a check up.
    9 – 1
    10 – 4 Symptoms to me of a possible heart problem; I’d go right to emergency.

  30. Thanks — I enjoyed this quiz and look forward to the answers!

    1–1
    2–3
    3–2
    4–3
    5–4
    6–3
    7–3
    8–2
    9–1
    10–2

    Thanks again for all you do — I always look forward to your emails!!

  31. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 3
    4. 3
    5. 4
    6. 3
    7. 3
    8. 3
    9. 3
    10. 4

  32. 1) 1. “watchful waiting”
    2) 3. Schedule an appointment
    3) 4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet or ER
    4) 3. Schedule an appointment
    5) 4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet or ER
    6) 3. Schedule an appointment
    7) 3. Schedule an appointment
    8) 3. Schedule an appointment
    9) 1. “watchful waiting”
    10) 4. Take your pet immediately to your family vet or ER

  33. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 2
    4. 3
    5. 2
    6. 3
    7. 3
    8. 3
    9. 1
    10. 4

  34. 1. – 1
    2. – 3
    3. – 2
    4. – 3
    5. – 2
    6. – 3
    7. – 3
    8. – 1
    9. – 1
    10. – 4

  35. 1. 1- Do some “watchful waiting”.
    2. 3 – Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
    3. 1- Do some “watchful waiting”.
    4. 1 – Do some “watchful waiting”.
    5. 4 – Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.
    6. 1 – Do some “watchful waiting”.
    7. 1- Do some “watchful waiting”.
    8. 1 – Do some “watchful waiting”.
    9. 1 – Do some “watchful waiting”.
    10. 4 – Take your pet immediately to your family vet clinic if they are open. Otherwise head to your local pet emergency hospital.

  36. My answers to the above questions. Looking forward to reading your answers.

    1
    3
    4
    3
    4
    1
    3
    1
    3
    4

  37. Thanks Dr. Kay, I enjoyed the quiz.
    My answers are:

    1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 3
    4. 3
    5. 4
    6. 2
    7. 3
    8. 1
    9. 1
    10. 4

  38. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 2
    4. 3
    5. 4
    6. 2
    7. 3
    8. 1
    9. 1
    10. 4

  39. 1. Watchful waiting (1)
    2.Call the clinic for advice (2.)
    3. Go to the clinic immediately (4)
    4. Make an appointment (3)
    5 Make an appointment (3)
    6. Watchful waiting. (1)
    7.Watchful waiting. (1)
    8.Make an appointment. (3)
    9.Watchful waiting.(1)
    10.Call the clinic for advice.(2)

  40. 1. 1
    2. 3
    3. 2
    4. 3
    5. 4
    6. 3
    7. 3
    8. 3
    9. 1
    10. 4

  41. 1. Do some “watchful waiting”.
    2. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
    3. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.
    4. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
    5. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
    6. Do some “watchful waiting”.
    7. Do some “watchful waiting”.
    8. Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined by your family veterinarian.
    9. Do some “watchful waiting”.
    10. Call a staff member at your family veterinary clinic or local emergency hospital for advice.