The zombie has served as a staple of the horror genre for decades -- but if your pet seems to have taken on the characteristics of this mythical creature, he could be enduring a horror story of his own. Here are four zombie-like symptoms that should prompt a visit to a veterinarian.
1. He Looks Like the Undead
No zombie will ever win a conventional beauty contest. These creatures typically show signs of decay and disease, from rotting skin to ruined eyes. If your pet looks like he's ready to star in a zombie movie, take him to the vet immediately. Loss of hair and damaged skin may indicate anything from mange or ringworm to an allergic reaction, while cloudy eyes may be afflicted with cataracts that limit your pet's vision.
2. He Walks with a Shambling Gait
Zombies have become famous for the shambling, staggering way they walk in films. If your pet walks like a zombie, you may want to determine that he doesn't have some other, more treatable problem instead, such as:
- Labyrinthitis - This balance disorder commonly affects older animals. Loose cartilage or an infection in the inner ear can cause a pet to walk in circles, cock his head to compensate for disorientation, or lean against walls.
- Heat stroke - Heat stroke causes a variety of alarming conditions, including staggering, seizures, and loss of consciousness. If your pet has been out in the sun too long, wrap him in a cool, damp blanket and seek emergency vet services.
- Neurological crises - Pets can suffer from brain tumors, strokes, and other neurological conditions just as humans can. Before reaching out to help your pet, however, ask yourself whether he is current on his rabies shots, because rabies can cause neurological symptoms as well.
3. He Doesn't Eat Like a Normal Pet
Zombies repulse the general population by eating brains exclusively -- apparently they can't get sufficient nourishment from a normal diet. If your pet suffers from nutritional or dietary problems, he has either joined the ranks of the undead or he has a medical problem that needs addressing.
- Veterinarians can diagnose food intolerances or allergies and prescribe appropriate dietary changes or supplements to ensure good nutrition.
- If your pet refuses to eat, or only eats very soft foods, he might have a dental abscesses or other painful oral condition. Total loss of appetite may stem from any of a variety of health problems, including cancer.
4. He Resembles the Walking Wounded
As every horror-movie aficionado knows, zombies can take extraordinary amounts of physical punishment without dying -- only a fatal blow to the head can actually kill one. If your pet comes limping home with multiple lacerations, fractures or other obvious wounds, he may have an unearthly power to survive harm, but it's more likely that he's lucky to be alive -- and he needs a vet.
Don't force your pet to live like a zombie. Take him in for veterinary evaluation and treatment at a company like Capitol Animal Clinic if he takes on any of the features of these unappealing characters. Then make a point of scheduling regular wellness exams to keep your pet alive and well, not just at Halloween but all year round!