Pet Troubleshooting Guide

No. Our pets are not computers, but there is a strong argument that our bodies are just living machines so I thought I would start a section for troubleshooting common pet issues. As a veterinary technician, this is something we do every time we answer the phone or check in a sick pet.

While hitting the reset button is the best first step with computers, with pets it is answering main questions:

What is the Problem?

Specifics matter. It is hard to troubleshoot nine problems at once so target the most concerning symptom and work to resolve it.

When did it start?

Did the cough start after visiting doggy day care or after a long hike? Were there any changes at home to trigger it?

How bad is it?

If it’s concerning but not an emergency:

Follow my guides or check out PetMD for assistance. This is the stage that’s good to try home remedies, see if environmental changes will resolve it, bland diets or supplements, etc. Research and check your references! Pet lover sites are vast vaults of information, but don’t take medical advice from anyone without schooling and experience. Some herbal remedies are quite helpful, others can be a serious disaster. Failure to check references is why doctors and veterinarians alike hate Dr. Google.

If it’s concerning and your not sure it’s an emergency:

Call your veterinarian or an emergency hospital. Keep these numbers handy. This is already a stressful time without chasing numbers to see who can help you.

If it’s an emergency:

Start packing while you follow the last advice. Call for help! It is much easier to chase down three telephone numbers to find out emergency rooms are full. It is nearly heartbreak when you arrive at your trusted veterinarian’s office to find their doctors are all in surgery and you have to wait. It demoralizing to you, our staff and dangerous for your pet to wait. Call. Frustrating as it is, it is better to chase phone numbers than addresses!


So… if you are in a non-emergency situation and need advice, start with our first troubleshooting category:

  • My pet isn’t eating! Help!