Pets Who Faked It: How Do You Know When Your Pet Needs a Vet?



My dog Pierre is incredibly melodramatic. He is full of life and joy, but when he’s uncomfortable or upset, he becomes the fussiest drama queen you’ve ever seen. Once, when he was a baby, he started crying and limping on his back leg, squawking when we touched his hips or tail like he was in pain. So, we rushed him to our local emergency vet only to be told he was jealous of the attention our older dog was receiving because she had recently hurt her leg.

Pierre’s story is not unique. Because owners and dogs can’t verbally communicate, there is room for misinterpretation, and sometimes expensive emergency vet visits that aren’t necessary. Here are some more stories of animals who faked it, as well as ways you can tell if your pet is in actual need of emergency care:

When Is a Cough Just a Cough?

Vanessa Young posted on Twitter about her dog’s attempt to fit in with the family when they had recently gotten ill. Apparently, her pup had a raspy cough that wouldn’t go away, so being the responsible pet parent she is, she took the dog to the vet for a thorough exam.

She says, “The vet went right over him, x ray, blood tests, and it was all a big mystery.” It wasn’t until the vet had Vanessa cough in front of the dog that they were able to hear this “raspy cough.” Vanessa coughed again, and the dog coughed again. “Turned out the whole family had colds and the dog was trying to fit in.”

While this story is probably told at family gatherings on repeat because it’s inherently funny, it is an example of something that could have been serious like kennel cough, which is highly contagious. Like humans, dogs can cough for a number of reasons ranging from clearing their throat to more serious issues like heart disease or pneumonia, so when do you need to take your dog to the vet for a cough?

Take your dog to the vet if the cough persists or worsens, or they start to display other concerning symptoms like lack of appetite or lethargy. It’s also a good idea to play it safe and take your pup to the vet if they have other health conditions, like heart disease or diabetes, on top of the cough.

This Drama Is Magnetic

Twitter User, Kat, posted a series of text messages from a friend about a young girl’s hamster who suddenly wouldn’t eat, drink, or even move. The girl stated that the hamster had done nothing but sit in the corner of their cage for 3 days. Upon prompting from the vet, the girl confessed that the hamster had escaped for a bit before being found under the fridge.

Once the vet started to examine the hamster, it began acting normally and walking around the examination table, eating, and drinking.  They then discovered something in the hamster’s cheek pouch: a magnet! “Turns out the only thing wrong with this hamster is that it had a fridge magnet in his cheek pouch and was stuck to his metal cage.”

This hamster-lover’s actions were spot on. This case may seem minor and silly, but a vet’s involvement was important. Even if they had picked up the hamster themselves and discovered the magnet, taking their pet to be looked at was the best option, because magnets are extremely dangerous if swallowed. Not only can they not be digested by the body, but if more than one magnet is swallowed, they may join in the digestive tract damaging the organs. So, having a professional look at your pet if you suspect they’ve swallowed a foreign object is imperative.

Dreaming of Vacation

Everyone jokes about quitting their jobs and staying on vacation, but Stephanie Marie’s dog took the love of vacation to heart after they returned home from a trip to the mountains. The dog became lethargic and wasn’t eating or drinking over the course of a few days.

One of the first signs that something is wrong with an animal is a sudden change in eating behaviors. If your pet is a voracious eater, but suddenly isn’t eating at all, it’s a symptom of many potential health concerns, so it was wise for Stephanie to take her dog to the vet. However, once she got there and they performed multiple tests on her pet, they determined that her dog was just temporarily depressed about the vacation ending.

Do Pets Get Depressed?

You may think this conclusion is over simplified, but pets absolutely can experience depression. Your pet expresses depression to just like their human counterparts, through changes in appetite, increased sleeping habits, reduced interest in people or activities they previously enjoyed, and avoidance.

If your pet is depressed and doesn’t return to normal in a few days, talk to your vet about treatment options. They may recommend doing more activities together to help your dog get more exercise than normal. Keeping them moving is a great way to help them heal from their depression.

While you’ll be tempted to give your dog more attention and treats to make them happy again, you don’t want the dog to associate their moping with rewards. If the case is serious, your vet may even prescribe medication to help your pet heal.

Mama’s Girl or Separation Anxiety?

Kristin Chirico shared a story of a dog’s love for her aunt. They took in the “sweet and energetic” dog over the Thanksgiving holiday while her aunt was away. When they returned from their family dinner, they found the dog lying on the stairs in her own urine. Reacting quickly, they found an emergency vet clinic open on Thanksgiving and raced the dog there. Once they got there and opened the car door, her aunt’s dog hopped out of the car on her own, back to normal. Apparently, the dog was just mad that her mom left for the holiday and decided to throw a tantrum.

Separation anxiety in pets is very common, and pets can express it in different ways. Some dogs become destructive, tearing up furniture and toys when left alone. While others are more prone to accidents in the home, excessive barking or howling, and even escape attempts. These behavior issues can often be misdiagnosed by pet owners as obedience problems, but if they are worse while the pet is alone, it’s more likely that your pet suffers from separation anxiety.

If you find that your pet is repeatedly causing problems while you’re away, there are several options for treating the root anxiety causing the issues. Your vet is a great resource for figuring out the best course of action to help your pet. It will take time and training to get your pet comfortable with being on their own, but it is possible, and eliminating a potential medical cause is step one, so bring your pet to the vet if you notice the symptoms of separation anxiety.

We love these stories of pets who faked it and their humans who rushed them to the vet in concern. As funny as they are, keeping your pet happy and healthy is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and we’re sure these pet owners would agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to get a vet involved in your pet’s care.

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