Anyone who has a pet in their family knows their animal’s personality, their quirks, their likes, dislikes and stubbornness.

Sometimes, your pet will do something quirky that might be looked at as cute or silly. Instead of laughing it off and saying, “Oh, that’s just Spike being silly ol’ Spike,” that behavior might be your pet trying to tell you something.


It’s an understatement to say we don’t speak the same languages as animals. What we can do, however, is read their body language, look at their behavior and even find out things about them through the noises they make. But what about the times where you’re not sure if your best buddy is just being extra quirky and silly that day or if they are showing signs of illness?

There are a few behaviors that indicate that your pet might be ill and is trying to tell you they need your help.

1. Head Pressing

On the surface, head pressing can be interpreted as a goofy act. Your cat or dog is continually pressing their head against the wall, floor or hard object, looking like a wind-up toy that’s stuck in a corner. It’s a funny thing to picture, but it is actually a very serious sign that your pet needs your help. If you notice your pet doing this often, it could be a neurological issue that affects many animals, regardless of breed or age. It could also be a result of damage to the nervous system or a metabolic disorder, all of these things being life threatening to your pet.

2. Pacing

If you have ever been to a zoo, you’ve seen animals pace back and forth in their pens out of boredom. Pacing can be a sign of boredom, but if you give your pet proper attention and mental stimulation, it might be a completely bigger issue. Pacing is another symptom of a neurological or metabolic disorder in your pet. If you are unsure on whether the pacing is boredom or a bigger issue, it is always best to check with a professional who can help give you the answers.


3. Lethargy & Sleepiness

OK, we all have our bad days, even animals. But if your pet is acting overly lethargic or depressed, there could be something seriously wrong. Lethargy and depression is one symptom of poisoning. It could also be that your pet is depressed, which can happen in animals as well as humans. Like us, there are different types of natural therapies you can try on your pet that can help with depression, but be sure to check with a professional first. Fatigue and oversleeping can also be a sign that something is wrong is a pet who is normally high energy.

4. Avoidance

Pets are our constant companions. They love to be around us and us them. When they avoid contact, there could be an injury that’s not visible to you that they don’t want you to touch. Their fur could cover up the injury, making it hard for you to see. Be especially mindful of ears, dogs with floppy ears can get infections that go unnoticed, but if your pup flinches when you go to scratch behind the ear it could indicate pain resulting from something going on inside.

5. Chasing Tail

While some dogs chase their tails every now and then, if you notice that your pup is constantly whirling in a circle trying to catch their tail, it could be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is estimated that eight percent of dogs in the U.S. suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Like in humans, this obsessive behavior is tied to anxiety. Talk to your vet about possible natural therapies, some studies have linked deficiencies in vitamin B6 and C to this behavior, but be sure to ask a professional beforehand.

6. Sucking on Their Flank

This particular quirk is most commonly noticed in Doberman Pinschers. Flank sucking sounds about as strange as it looks. If you notice your pup is chewing on the side of their body, on the skin that connects the side and back hip bone, this could be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder. Studies have linked a specific gene in Dobermans to this sort of behavior, but stress, trauma and anxiety can lead to this odd behavior. Consult a professional if you notice flank sucking as there are certain medications that can help ease your dog’s compulsion to chew his side.


Always Double Check

The best thing you can do for your pet in these conditions is consult with a vet. Even better is making sure your pet has regular vet check-ups so that these conditions can be caught early and treated before they develop into something worse.

Lead Image Source: Mills Baker/Flickr