Is your pet in pain?
No one wants to be in pain, nor do we want our beloved pets to be in pain. Research has shown that our pets feel pain just as we do. If something is painful to us, it is painful to them. The problem is pets cannot tell us when they are in pain, and the symptoms they exhibit are subtle and different from what we may expect. As natural predators, dogs and especially cats, try to hide symptoms of pain. Thankfully, we can help you recognize the signs of acute and chronic pain in your furry friends.
Acute pain is usually easy to spot. You may have witnessed your pet’s injury or you may have observed sudden, unusual behavior. Chronic pain can be more difficult to spot, as the signs may be subtle, and are often dismissed as getting older or slowing down.
Signs of pain
- Crying or groaning
- Limping or holding up a paw
- Reluctance to have an area touched
- Licking, chewing, and scratching at an area (may even cause hair loss)
- Slower movements when lying down or standing up
- Trouble with steps or getting in and out of the car
- Standing in a hunched position or holding head down
- Restlessness, panting, increased heart rate
- Less stamina, playing less, shorter walks or more rest stops along the way
- Urinating/defecating in the house
- Decrease in appetite (possibly mouth pain or water and food bowls are too low)
- Signs of aggression
Most of these signs hold true for cats, but cats offer a few additional signs that are unique to their species. They may be reluctant to jump or not be able to jump up as high as they used to. They may be reluctant to groom themselves, which can result in matted fur over a painful area. They may urinate or defecate outside their litter box.
The good news is that in many cases, pain can be treated and managed in our furry friends. Our veterinarians have training in identifying the signs of pain and more. With your observations, and a thorough physical exam, the source of acute or chronic pain can often be identified, and a treatment plan can be recommended.
Written by Dana Hatfield, DVM
September 10, 2015