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Diagnosis

If you know your animals well, it is obvious when something is wrong. The more you have the harder it is to notice, but no amount of medicine can replace the care taken to check each individual regularly for signs of problems. An animal who is normally very active may be subdued when sick, and vice versa. Some animals hide illness as safety instinct (notably rabbits), while others make a huge fuss over minor things, just like we do:)

To become your own substitute vet you must learn the conditions specific to the breed, have simple remedies on hand and know where to obtain others quickly, have an understanding of the anatomy of the animal, and its nutritional needs, and recognize the signs of illness. You will need to be able to take your animal's temperature, and be prepared to administer drenches, or other ways of persuading them to take their medicine.

There isn't always time to get a vet, or even contact a friend. Sometimes you have to make on the spot decisions. I hope this will help.

  • 1. Is the animal conscious?
  • + Yes. Go to Q3.
  • - No. Go to Q2.

  • 2. Can you feel a pulse?
  • + Yes. Go to Q4.
  • - No. Go to Q5.

  • 3. Is it shivering?
  • + Yes. Go to Q6.
  • - No. Go to Q7.

  • 4. Is it breathing normally?
  • + Yes. Go to Q8.
  • -No. Go to Q9.

  • 5. Does the animal feel cold to the touch?
  • +Yes. The animal is dead. See Sudden Death.
  • -No. Go to Q9.

  • 6. Take its temperature. Is it normal?
  • + Yes. Go to Q10.
  • - No. Go to Q11.

  • 7. Is it able to stand?
  • + Yes. Go to Q12.
  • - No. Go to Q13

  • 8. Can you rouse it?
  • + Yes. The animal was in a deep sleep. Check for other signs of illness if you are still concerned. Go to Q3.
  • -No. The animal is in a coma. Go to Q25.

  • 9. Check airways for obstructions. Get someone else to call a vet while you administer CPR. Check pulse and breathing - any luck?
  • + Yes. Go to Q3.
  • - No. Don't give up straight away. If you suspect choking but cannot see an obstruction, attempt a type of Heimlich manoeuvre, or swing the animal by the back legs if not too heavy.

  • 10. Shock, poisoning, and some infections can cause shivering without a noticeable change in temperature. Is the animal able to drink?
  • + Yes. Go to Q14.
  • - No. Go to Q15.

  • 11. Is the temperature higher than normal by several degrees? Go to Q16.
  • Is the temperature only slightly higher than normal? Go to Q17.
  • Is the temperature LOWER than normal? Go to Q18.

  • 12. Is it eating and drinking?
  • + Yes. Go to Q19.
  • - No. Go to Q20.

  • 13. Check for obvious signs of injury to the legs. Go to Q12.

  • 14. Give it as much water as it will drink. Will it eat?
  • + Yes. Go to Q21.
  • - No. Go to Q22.

  • 15. Check the animal carefully for signs of bite wounds. Can you see any, not neccessarily recent?
  • + Yes. Go to Q23.
  • - No. Go to Q24.

  • 16. Begin by treating the fever. Does the animal have diarrhea?
  • + Yes. Go to Q26.
  • - No. Go to Q27.

  • 17. Does the animal have diarrhea?
  • + Yes. Go to Q26.
  • - No. Go to Q27.

  • 18.

  • 19. Does the animal have diarrhea?
  • + Yes. Go to Q26.
  • - No. Go to Q29.

  • 20.

  • 21.

  • 22.

  • 23.

  • 24.

  • 25.

  • 26.

  • 27. Listen to its chest. Can you hear wheezing, rattling, or other unusual sounds?
  • + Yes. See Respiratory Disorders
  • - No. Go to Q28.

  • 28.

  • 29.

  • 30.

  • 31.