What to Do When Your Pet Is Vomiting, Coughing, Scratching And Limping

Pet Health Issues

Pet Health Issues…Know What to Watch for and When to Get Help

If you are like many of my clients, you aren’t sure when a symptom is no problem or a BIG problem. I list and discuss a few of the most common ailments seen in cats and dogs. When you should wait and see, and when you should head to the vet clinic…


When your dog or cat is vomiting, it can be confusing and frightening. Here’s a guide to what to watch for and what to do to help your pet.

Should I be Worried?

No if

1. Your pet vomited once but seems to feel OK otherwise.
2. He/she is eating and drinking normally and does not appear to feel poorly, it may just be a passing thing.

Yes if

1. Your pet has vomited multiple times.
2. The vomiting has been going on for more than 24 hours, your pet won’t eat.
3. Your pet is not behaving normally– maybe he’s lethargic, hiding, or grouchy.
4. There is diarrhea along with the vomiting.
5. Your pet has lost weight.


Is that cough a little tickle in Fluffy’s throat or is it the sign of a serious situation? Should you be worried enough to seek help from a veterinarian?

No if

1. The cough is occasional, maybe once or twice a day.
2. Your pet seems to be breathing normally while at rest– no fast breathing, no struggling to breathe.
3. Your pet is acting normal in every other way– eating and drinking OK, not lethargic.

Yes if

1. The cough occurs more than a couple of times a day and occurs every day or most every day.
2. Your pet is breathing faster, with more effort, or can’t seem to rest due to trouble breathing.
3. Your pet is not eating, drinking, or participating in normal activities, has lost weight or seems lethargic.


Every animal scratches occasionally. Should you start thinking about intervening to help your friend?

No if

1. Your pet scratches a few times a day for 30 seconds or less.
2. There are NO scabs, hair loss, red spots, bumps, excessive dander, or bad odor.

Yes if

1. Your pet scratches frequently, maybe 1-3 times or more every hour, or scratches for more than 30 seconds at a time.
2. There is hair loss, bumps, scabs, redness, stinky odor, greasiness, or excessive dander.

Remember that LICKING is often because of itchiness, similar to scratching, especially in cats! Shaking of the head can also be a sign of itchiness on the face or in the ears.

Scratching can be very disruptive to pets and people. There are many causes for excessive scratching, but with patience, most pets can be relieved.


Does your dog or cat have a little hitch in his “get along?” Is it time to seek medical attention?

No if

1. Your pet is acting normal in every other way (eating, drinking, active).
2. The lameness is mild and has been present for less than 48 hours.
3. You suspect your pet “overdid” it on exercise. If this is the case, try to limit exercise for a few days.

Yes if

1. Your pet is lethargic, not eating/drinking.
2. The lameness has been present for more than 48 hours and did not resolve with rest.
3. There is a visible wound, swelling or obvious pain when you touch the affected limb.
4. Your pet has lost weight or has any other abnormal symptoms in addition to limping.

Limping can often be the sign of a serious problem. You should definitely take your pet to the vet clinic if you notice limping any more than VERY occasionally. It is a sign of pain and there are many ways to treat pain including acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, herbal medications as well as traditional anti-inflammatories and pain medications.

Lola R. Steele

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