A companion animal, unlike a service animal, is one that people get for companionship purposes. Most pets that people have in their homes are companion animals. You bring them home not for a specific reason (like to plow a field) but rather to enjoy, love, and nurture. As with all living things, these pets can get sick every once in a while. When that happens, you'll want to consider companion animal care. When do you need to see a vet, and when can you hold off?
Companion Pet Definition
To look at this question further, we need first to understand what qualifies as a companion pet. This definition is a little open-ended, but that's intentional. Any pet that you bring home for joy is a companion pet. When you bring a hamster or a fish home from the pet store, you're not bringing it back to serve any particular purpose. That makes them a companion pet - they're something for you to cuddle, hold, and be your companion!
When Should You Consider Companion Animal Care?
When your pet becomes ill, you'll undoubtedly have to start considering companion vet care. Whether you have small companion animals or big ones, there comes the point when almost all animals require a vet. The following are some general pointers for when you might want to bring your pet into the vet!
Listlessness or Lethargy
If you find that your pet has no energy, that's frequently one of the first signs of something going wrong. Most pets have evolved from the wild and have innate desires to keep their illnesses subdued. Therefore, you might not even know that they are sick. However, they usually cannot hide the fact that they have less energy.
If your dog, cat, or other animal went from jumping around your home to wanting to do nothing but lying down by the water bowl, your pet is likely to experience some problems that require companion vet care.
In the wild, when an animal is sick or injured, their survival instincts kick in. One of those instincts is to hide. Their illness puts them in a compromised state of which predators can take advantage. By hiding, they can avoid predators and allow their wounds or disease to heal.
While this strategy makes perfect sense in the wild, it's counterproductive in your home. Hiding makes things worse because you can't see that they are sick and get them the right companion animal care they need. If you see your pet hiding, make sure to observe them as they may be hiding due to illness. If you think something might be amiss, a vet trip is in order!
Vomiting or Diarrhea
If your pet experiences vomiting or diarrhea and that doesn't seem to be going away, you'll likely want to get them into a vet. Many illnesses have gastrointestinal issues as symptoms. Throwing up once or twice could be a bad meal, but continually throwing up is likely a concern. If you notice this, it doesn't hurt to book a vet appointment for them as it's always better to be safe than sorry!
Many pet owners are unaware that many health issues with pets show up on the skin. Allergies, in particular, manifest themselves in skin issues. Cats with food allergies will often have rashes that will not have fur over them due to all the scratching. Dogs, rabbits, hamsters, and other mammals have similar problems.
Even pets for which you might not expect "skin" issues to be revealing, often exhibit problems on their "skin" first. For example, you can usually tell health problems with a fish if there are problems with its scales.
If you see persistent skin issues that aren't going away, it's time to call for some professional companion animal care!
Trust Your Instinct
When it comes to companion animal care, always trust your instinct. After living with a pet for days and years, you'll quickly develop a sense of when they are acting normally and when there is something is wrong. You might not be able to put your finger on it or quantify it ("that's weird, I swear Lulu has been sleeping a lot more than normal"), but you will perceive it. In these cases, go with your gut. Please book an appointment ASAP and get your small companion animals and big ones alike the proper vet care that they need.