Posted by: My Personal Vet | May 14, 2010

Common vs. Normal

Common versus Normal:

What is Your Pet's Mood or Behavior Trying to Tell You?

Making the distinction between these two words, in medicine (both veterinary and human) is essential, and often mistaken. Deeming what seems to be an everyday occurrence as “normal” can leave your veterinarian without crucial pieces of information that may give valuable insight into your pets’ health.

So, what is the difference between these two words? Human headaches provide a perfect example. It’s rare to find a person who has never suffered from a headache. While they occur more frequently and more intensely for some than others, it’s safe to say that headaches, on whole, are a common problem for the American population. But could you also say that headaches are normal? No. In fact, The headache itself is a symptom of an underlying problem. It’s your body’s way of letting you know that something isn’t right and that it can no longer fix the problem on its own. The cause could be as simple as dehydration or it could something more complex.

The same thinking should be applied to managing your pets’ health. Often, symptoms are disregarded because they are assumed to be normal, age-related issues. For example, pet owners frequently assume that it’s normal for older cats and dogs to have incontinence issues. While incontinence is certainly more common in older animals, it still shouldn’t be considered a “normal” function of their body. There are many underlying problems that could be causing this symptom, including: a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or diabetes.

Other symptoms that are often disregarded on the assumption that they are “normal”:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Increase in  Water Intake
  • Increase or Decrease in Food Intake
  • Slowing Down/Decrease in Energy
  • Not Getting up as Easily
  • Sneezing
  • Bad Breath
  • Dog smells “Doggy”
  • Cloudy Eyes

Dr. Sharp believes that the best form of treatment is prevention. You can catch problems before symptoms have a chance to develop by keeping up with wellness exams every 6 months and a blood profile, urinalysis, and fecal panel once a year.

Of course, problems can arise unexpectedly so be sure to keep track of any mood or behavior changes that you notice, as subtle as they may seem. They could be a  symptom of something abnormal happening inside.

When in doubt, ask your personal vet! Catching problems early will save you time and money and help your pets live longer, happier, healthier lives!


About the Author: Joanna Doubleday, Practice Manager

Joanna came on board with My Personal Vet in August of 2009.  She brought along with her a crazy cat named Bella, a new catahoula puppy named Dexter, and over 10 years of customer service and      business management.  She has experience in a variety of settings including several years in both human wellness care and hospitality.

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, she’s passionate about giving back to her community and has done work on My Personal Vet’s behalf for Second Harvest Food Bank and the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce since joining our team.  She is  continuing her education at Cabrillo College in pursuit of a degree in business and health services.

Joanna is as passionate about helping animals as she is about helping people.

When you’re ready to book an appointment or find out more about how our services may help you, give her a call!   831.621.7444


  1. So true, thanks for the distinction! Pet owners should seek treatment for those age-related symptoms that are common and too often considered “normal”.

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