Welcome to Web-DVM’s dog and cat Symptom Checker, a virtual online diganostic tool. The term symptom, really does not apply to veterinary medicine, but is used here merely because of the familiarity most people have with the term. Strictly, a symptom is a sensation or change in health function experienced by a person.
These sensations are conveyed by the human patient to the doctor through speech or other communication so that the doctor knows what the patient is experiencing.
In veterinary medicine, with patients that cannot tell the owner or veterinarian how they are feeling, we look not for symptoms, but instead, signs of disease. Signs your cat or dog may be showing, as opposed to symptoms, are objective indications of some medical fact or quality that are detected by a person or veterinarian.
Therefore, the Web-DVM presents pet owners with sets of clinical signs, not symptoms, to choose from that they may be observing from your cat or dog, so that they may have an idea of what diseases their pets may be experiencing. Please be clear that the purpose of this tool is for educational purposes to help pet owners recognize signs of disease only, and is not meant for owners to self diagnose their cat or dog to try to implement treatment. Anyone who feels their canine or feline companion may be sick or injured should seek veterinary attention for their pet immediately.
|Drinking Excessively||Trouble Breathing|
(accidents, straining, blood, etc)
(redness, pain, blinking, cloudy)
|Excercise Intolerance||Weight Gain/Obesity|
|Itchy, Irritated Skin||Weight Loss|
Abdominal pain can look very similar to Back Pain in dogs and cats. Both can present with tense underbelly, arched back posture, and reluctance to move. It can even be challenging at times, for even veterinarians to conclusively determine whether it is the back of the abdomen that is causing pain and discomfort. Therefore, if you suspect that your pet’s abdomen is painful, consider investigating Back Pain as well. That kept in mind, please feel free to make use of our Abdominal Pain diagnostic below to narrow down possible causes for your pet’s presumed abdominal pain:
Back and neck pain are frequently the result of muscle strains or sprains, bruises, and in the case of cats that spend time outside, resulting from bites from other animals. This diagnostic tool for back and neck pain is more concerned with structural injury or inherrited problems. Any sustained and/or severe neck or back pain are serious concerns, so regardless of the insights of our diagnostic tool, a veterinary visit is always recommended. This is especially urgent if there is accompanying weakness, unsteadiness, or Paralysis in any or all of the extremities, as this constitutes an outright emergency. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Signs of constipation include straining to defecate with little or no success. Stools when occassionally passed tend to be large, dry and flaky, or sometimes are absent altogether. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Coughing is one of the more common clinical presentations vets are presented with on a daily basis. Coughing could indicate a fairly substantial number of diseases, including: infection, cardiac disease, inflammatory disease, or even cancer to name a few. Conditions that present with coughing can range from mild disease to life threatening conditions. To further characterize your pet’s cough and narrow down the possible causes for the cough, please begin prodiving us a history by selecting what species your pet is:
Diarrhea may occur occasionally throughout a pet’s lifetime, due to dogs and cats (dogs especially) tending to ingest sometimes less than ideal items. Diarrhea due to this type of dietary indescretion, may respond by feeding a bland, easily digestible diet. If you call your vet’s office, they may dispense the GI friendly Hill’s Prescription I/D or other prescription GI diet, to feed your pet until the diarrhea resolves. Transient diarrhea of this nature should last only one to a few days, should not be severe in nature or have blood in it, and not be accompanied by complete loss of appetite, vomiting, depression, or pain.
However, if the diarrhea is advanced to the point of any of these other circumstances, then this could indicate more serious underlying causes for the diarrhea, as well as put the patient in danger of dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities – as such, advanced diarrhea of this nature warrants a visit to the vet ASAP. To further characterize your pet’s diarrhea and narrow down the potential causes for your pet’s diarrhea, please begin providing us a history by selecting what species your pet is:
Distended abdomen refers to a bloated, larger than normal appearance of the abdominal region. With many diseases that lead to distended abdomen, there is also an increase in the tenseness or firmness of the abdomen. Other clinical signs that can accompany diseases that lead to distended abdomen include: difficulty moving, vomiting, inappetance, and abdominal pain. May diseases that are associated with distended abdomen are quite serious, so if you suspect distended abdomen in your pet, you should seek veterinary care ASAP. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Drinking excessively is a sign that often goes unnoticed, or dismissed by many pet owners as just peculiar behavior. What may folks are not aware of, is that drinking excessively can be a sign of serious systemic disease. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Some breeds of dog are known for drooling due to unique anatomical characteristics, such as Mastiffs, St Bernards, and English Bull Dogs. Other dogs and cats will drool from emotion, such as contentment, stress, or fear. Still others will drool when in the presence of food during times of hunger. For all of these types of pets, drooling often is normal due to breed or other circumstances.
When drooling occurs that is not commonly characteristic of an individual pet, then there could be cause for concern. If your pet is drooling excessively and uncharacteristically, please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Redness, pain, excessive blinking, tearing, or cloudiness in an eye are all signs that the eye is diseased. Diseases of the eye range from mild irritative conditions that do not pose great danger, to conditions that can lead to severe pain and blindness in a very short period of time. If you are seeing lumps or masses on or near the eye, please refer to our Lumps/Masses diagnostic tool. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
The term exercise intolerance does not apply to an old dog or cat who gradually through the years has declined in the ability to sustain the same activity or level of play. Excercise intolerance in our context applies to a pet who has a very tyipcal typical standard of energy/activity level that declines suddenly or over a short period of time. While still a very vague sign that has any number of possible causes, this diagnostic may give you some idea of some common causes for exercise intolerance as a primary sign. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Jaundice, also known as icterus, is a yellow pallor or discoloration of the whites of the eyes, the skin, and the gums and other mucus membranes. This discoloration is the result of excessive bilirubin in the bloodstream, which can be the result of either backed up liver circulation due to disease, or as the result of excessive accumulation of bilirubin due to the destruction of red blood cells caused by a disruption in red blood cell metabolism, a defective immune system, or both. Jaundice is a clinical sign that is often indicative of serious systemic disease. Therefore, if jaundice is is ever observed in one’s dog or cat, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
A large variety of injuries can cause dogs and cats to limp, including muscle sprains, ligament and tendon strains, bruises, fractures cuts of the foot pad, bur stuck in between the digits, and joint infection. Please follow the limping diagnostic tool below to see what may possible be causing your pet to limp. Please begin providing us a history by selecting what species your pet is:
Lumps or growths commonly occur on the skin, bone, and other tissues of dogs and cats, some benign, some cancerous. There is a virtually endless number of types of growths that can grow in dogs and cats, so this diagnostic tool deals with the more commonly found mass-like lesions seen regularly in general preactice in dogs and cats. While using this tool, please always bear in mind that images are not conclusive diagnostic evidence, and that even when examined grossly by a veterinarian, growths are often not ultimately consistent necessarily with how they look and even feel. In the case of ANY growths found on your pet, a veterinary visit is thus highly recommended regardless of the conclusions of this tool. Please begin by selecting the appropriate species below:
Any condition that causes pain or systemic discomfort has the potential to cause sleeplessness and some pacing at night. This includes any number of possible injuries or diseases. However, chronically recurring night pacing and vocalization in a senior to geriatric (age 10 or older typically) dog or cat with no other accompanying signs of disease can be precipitated by certain diseases.Please begin by selecting the appropriate species below:
Partial paralysis (also known as paresis), paralysis, and weakness in dogs and cats can look very similar, even indistinguishable, in dogs and cats. Our diagnostic will help you sort out some of the major difference between weakness and paralysis in order to determine which sign your pet suffers from. Please begin by selecting the appropriate species below:
A seizure is a temporary abnormal electro-physiological phenomenon of the brain, resulting in abnormal synchronization of electrical neuronal activity. It can manifest as an alteration in mental state, tonic or clonic movements, convulsions, and various other psychic signs. This can occur in dogs in cats due to abnormal areas of the brain, but could also be the result of metabolic or systemic disease. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Skin Problems (hair loss, flaky, itchy, red, sores)
Skin disease is perhaps the single most common reason for canine and feline visits to the veterinarian. Skin conditions can be harmless to other pets and/or people in the home, but they may also be the result of infectious or ectoparasitic agents that may be contagious to other pets in the home or even people, especially the very young, the elderly, or immune suppressed people (such as cancer and HIV patients). Please make use of our itchy, problematic skin diagnostic tool by selecting the species of the affected pet, but always bear in mind that caution is advised regarding contact with other pets and people when skin presents with disease:
“Stiffness” is another one of those vague clinical signs, because it can involve any number if injuries, systemic accidents, and many different parts of the body. Stiffness due to discomfort that is specifically attibutable to certain regions of the body, one should refer to causes for Abdomenal Pain, Back/Neck Pain, or Limping. This diagnostics is for non-specific generalized overall stiffness that one cannot specifically pin point a focal area for the stiffness. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Trouble breathing is a very serious clinical sign that should never be taken lightly. With many causes for trouble breathing being potentially life threatening ailments, one who has a pet that is struggling to breath should seek veterinary care ASAP. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Urinating Problems (accidents, straining, blood, etc.)
Urinating excessively or uncharacteristically outside the litter box (cats) or in the home are signs that often go unnoticed, or dismissed by many pet owners as just peculiar behavior. In reality, these are actually common signs of disease that warrant consideration in dogs and cats. Straining to urinate or blood in the urine certainly are signs of disease. If your pet is exhibiting inappropriate urination in the home, straining to urinate or blood in the urine, please refer to our diagnostic tool below to help give you an idea of what may be wrong with your pet.
Vomiting may occur occasionally throughout a pet’s lifetime, due to dogs and cats (dogs especially) tending to ingest sometimes less than ideal items. Vomiting due to this type of dietary indescretion, may respond by feeding a bland, easily digestible diet. If you call your vet’s office, they may dispense the GI friendly Hill’s Prescription I/D or other prescription GI diet, to feed your pet until the vomiting resolves. Transient vomiting of this nature should last only a few hours to a day, should not be severe in nature or have blood in it, and should not be accompanied by complete loss of appetite, severe diarrhea, severe depression, or pain.
However, if the vomiting is advanced to the point of any of these other circumstances, then this could indicate more serious underlying causes for the vomiting, as well as put the patient in danger of dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, and shock – as such, advanced vomiting of this nature warrants a visit to the vet ASAP. In order to further characterize what type of vomiting your pet may be experiencing, as well as provide some possible diseases that may be the cause of your pet’s vomiting. Please begin providing us a history by telling us whether your pet is a dog or a cat.
Excessive weight on a dog or cat that is not over fed and receives ample regular exercise could be a sign of systemic disease. If one has tried good quality weight loss diets recommended by a veterinarian (remember that pet food is not as tightly regulated as human food and labels often lie!), then there may be something more than over indulgence driving your pet’s weight gain. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below:
Weight loss is perhaps one of the most vague clinical signs in veterinary medicine. Any number of diseases can stress the body to the point of leading to weight loss. Therefore, weight loss with accompanying poor appetite, depression, vomiting, or any other signs of illness, should not be taken lightly and the pet taken to the veterinarian ASAP. The weight loss that the diseases this diagnostic tool will be concerned with, also warrant a prompt visit to the vet, but unlike many debilitating diseases that lead to weight loss, these typically do not concurrently coincide with poor appetite, vomoting, diarrhea, or other concurrent signs of illness. In fact, more often than not, the diseases this tool will be discussing cause weight loss DESPITE the pet having a normal or even excessive appetite. In other words, this diagnostic will be concerned with weightloss as the primary and sole clinical sign. Please begin our diagnostic by selecting your pet’s species below: