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Where Do You Turn If You Think Your Pet Is Sick?

Having a pet that is under the weather is very worrying, sometimes we just know that a vets visit is unavoidable. Other times we have concerns but can’t put a finger on the reason the pet is acting the way they are - they are just ‘not right’. Let’s face it, you know your pet the best. So, what do you do and where do you turn? 

This Pets4Homes article looks at where people often turn to when they have a pet they are worried about.

Is it an emergency?

The very first thing to ask yourself, do you consider the illness to be an emergency? If they are in a lot of pain, been involved in a traffic accident, or collapsed - there could be a threat to life. This is an emergency. At this point, all thoughts of asking about must be changed to, ring the vet! Again, if you are in any doubt to whether your pet’s condition is an emergency, then again, phone the vet. They would much rather put your mind at rest if the pet can wait to be seen or tell you to come straight in if needed. 

So, what if it’s not a pressing emergency? Perhaps the pet has not seemed right for a couple of days? Maybe not wanting to do too much, off food a bit. Then there are places some people look for advice - you may be one of them…

1. The vets

This has to go first in the list, as it’s the first place many people turn when their pet is not feeling chipper. Vets are the experts for pets, especially your pet - don’t forget they have all your pet's medical history. They also have all the tools (or most of them) if your pet does need to go and visit them. 

During the day you can also pop in for advice (as well as repeat prescriptions in some cases). So, in all the place to go for your pet advice. But what if you don’t think it warrants that just yet? What are the other alternative places? 

2. Search engines

Online is probably the next place people would look - the world of searching the Internet using search engines such as Google, Bing, even Duck Duck Go (yes that’s a search engine). As you can imagine there is a mind-boggling amount of information on the web, much of it confusing and conflicting. 

The main thing to remember is that searching like this should be treated as a bit of a last resort - unless the website is reputable (we’ll cover this later), as many of the sites are wrong. Forums are often shown in search results, and although these are great for support, they are written by pet owners, not vets. Takeaway message - use search engines with extreme care.

3. Social Media

Who isn’t on some kind of social media platform these days? Not very many of us! Some people seem glued to their phones or tablets, using sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others. So this is the place some people will go for advice. 

Asking for ideas via these methods can throw up various answers from people - some of which can be wildly off the mark! The problem with social media is everyone thinks they are an expert. That’s not meant disrespectfully, however, this could put your pet’s life at risk.

Social media can be good - if you look in the right place… your vet's social media accounts!

4. Family/friends

He lies the issue, you might ask for advice and to save you a vet’s bill this set of people might give you an opinion, but not a necessarily helpful one! There is nothing wrong with sounding out family or friends, they may even give you an idea you haven’t thought of. Your pet may be acting like this because… and it might make sense. 

Some people will tell you to take the pet to vets, and generally, that’s good advice, but it’s again about being sensible and using your common sense. Just be wary of home remedies, some can be very bad for your pet’s health!

5. RSPCA

The Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is a reputable online resource! Their website is full of great articles, knowledge, and advice. In addition to this, providing you meet their terms and are near one of their clinics, you may be able to take your pet along. Always contact them first - if you financially are finding it difficult, they may be able to help. 

The clinics and hospitals have strict criteria where you can bring in an animal, so make sure you fit the bill and have an appointment/contact before you travel. Even if you don’t have premises near you, their website might help answer a question.

6. PDSA

Like the RSPCA, another major charity which has a great website is the PDSA (Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals). They have sections on their website, where you might find the thing your pet is displaying. Also, like the RSPCA, the PDSA have their own clinics and hospitals. You might be lucky to be near one and meet their rules for being seen - usually as a financial aspect. 

The PDSA works much like the RSPCA with catchment areas, in fact, you can (at the time of writing) find out if you would qualify using the online tool on their website. You just need to fill in a few details.

7. Pets4Homes

Not just a shameless plug, but we have a reason behind it. We have well over 5000 articles written by professional people in the animal care industry. From veterinary surgeons and nurses to specialists in their field, the chances are you will find an article - probably more, that can answer the question you are asking.

We are not meant to replace the expertise of a vet, but our articles can give you great guidance on a vast number of subjects, including obscure ones. We also have articles for animals bigger than a Great Dane - our equine friends will be pleased to hear! So, use the pet advice search facility and see if the site can help.

8. Online consultation

There are several websites online that offer this facility. Some will do a call-back on your phone to speak to you about your worries about your pet. These services are another way to speak to professionals as they are usually manned by veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. 

Before you use these services, please take some time to read the small print - often there is a large charge for the service, which will need to be paid upfront via credit card. If the service offers a callback or you call the facility, then the number is normally a premium rate. At times it can be cheaper to use your own vet.

9. Pet shop

Some pet shops - the larger more corporate ones can have a veterinary practice in them; however, most stores don’t have the luxury of a vet about. Regardless don’t write them off - staff for minor ailments in pet shops are very knowledgable and some can give a bit of advice for the smaller conditions. 

You may think they will say anything to sell a product, but in reality, if they are to provide and dispense a medicine (which some can without seeing a vet), they have to be what’s known as an SQP - a Suitably Qualified Person. This means they have passed the requirements for giving advice and providing minor non-prescription treatments.

10. Local rescue centre

As staff in the pet shop, if you know anyone in your local rescue centre, they too are very knowledgable. They often have seen much of the minor ailments (and some major ones) with the animals that come through their centre. Add to this the centres can have to be licensed by a vet, or some vets visit weekly, they have given general advice with some level of understanding.

11. Your insurance company

Is your pet insured? If so, many companies will offer an advice service, manned by qualified staff such as vets and nurses. These are often via an online ‘consultation’ where they will give you advice on what to do next. Many pet insurance companies are now utilising technology and putting apps on their services. 

Using this service normally is included in the premium you pay per month, but always check for costs before you ask advice on one.

So, there are many places you can get further advice on your pet, mainly online! However, with the health of your pet never take chances. If you are ever in doubt about your pet, they do not seem to be getting better, or indeed, they have worsened, always make your vet the first place to turn. Even if the day is a weekend, and you are worried about the fee, your pet comes first - and it’s the Law to make sure they are without pain. 

Looking after a pet is sometimes not easy, but if they are ill, they rely on you to help them. It’s all about being a responsible pet owner.


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