How can I tell if my dog or cat is healthy?

Q&A with Dr. Erika Sullivan, Because Animal’s Chief Veterinary Officer.

Our pets don’t always let us know when something is wrong with them, so how can we tell if our dogs, cats, pets are healthy?

They should be doing all of the things they typically enjoy doing. You should reference what is normal behaviour for them. So, they should be eating and drinking, have a good appetite, a shiny coat and enjoying walks and playing. There should be no changes to their typical routines such as drinking more water than normal. They should be happy and enjoying all of their usual things.

Alternatively, are there common signs that a pet is unwell that are often overlooked?

There are common indicators that people don’t pick up on and if you take your pet for routine vet visits, you can address them as they come up. For example, people will say things such as my dog or cat vomits every once in a while or has accidents (urine or feces) occasionally and they believe because it’s occasional it’s normal. But it could be a red flag that needs to be addressed and investigated.

We can look at the pet’s appearance, weigh them and take their temperature and a routine vet visit will indicate changes in their health that should be addressed.

So regular vet visits are a good way to help pet parents maintain an active engagement in their animal’s health.

Yes. For example, some people leave food down for their pets all day and that makes it more difficult to see if there is a change in their diet or if they aren’t eating.

And some people think it’s normal for dogs to eat feces, but doing so could mean there is something lacking in their diet or that they aren’t digesting properly or they could be anemic. And the issue could also be behavioural.

So, don’t necessarily dismiss an occasional thing as a normal thing. And find a vet who incorporates health, behavioural, lifestyle and emotional symptoms and takes a holistic approach to pet care.


Dr. Erika, also known as The Globetrotting Veterinarian, graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College, where she led a successful campaign to end the euthanasia of animals used in surgical training. Erika makes routine visits to Thailand where she treats disabled elephants; leads a yearly spay-neuter clinic in India; and is a PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Instructor, which allows her to better promote the protection of marine life. She currently lives in Adelaide, Australia, where she works at a vet clinic that sees tropical birds as some of her patients, a few of which she brings home!