We all know how debilitating pain can be, and it’s no different for our pets. However, when symptoms of pain in pets range from obvious to barely discernible, even the most attentive owner can remain in the dark.
In the wild, animals who show signs of pain are a target for predators. As a result, they’ve developed a natural instinct to mask symptoms in order to make themselves appear less vulnerable. This begs the question: how can you identify and manage pain in pets?
From dental problems to surgical procedures to arthritis, pain in pets can be due to a variety of reasons. Because they can’t talk, the most common way to know a pet is in pain is through changes in behavior.
You know your pet the best, so it’s important to listen to your gut if something just feels “off.” Even the subtlest changes can be an indication of underlying pain. Other common signs include:
- Changes in activity level – Often mistaken for signs of aging, a decrease in activity is often a sign of pain. Within reason, older pets should still be able to jump up on the bed or favorite resting spot and go up and down stairs. Reluctance to do these things (especially if you don’t have a senior pet) should be a red flag.
- Constant localized grooming – Pets in pain will often groom excessively in an effort to self-soothe. When dogs are hurt, their instinct is to clean and care for a wound by licking, but even when pain is internal, they’ll often lick that area in an attempt to heal. Cats, on the other hand, are usually fastidious groomers and tend to neglect this when in pain. Again, the biggest indicator of pain is a change in normal behavior.
- Difficulty relaxing or more frequent resting – When pets are in pain, they often just can’t seem to get comfortable or they may sleep more than usual. Sometimes, they may be hesitant to move or have difficulty getting up from a resting position.
- Decline in social interactions – Both cats and dogs will actively avoid interaction when in pain. Your cat may hide more often and resist being picked up. Your dog may seem uninterested in jumping up on your lap or playing with you. Conversely, some dogs will actually seek more attention and appear to be all over you all the time. Once again, displays of abnormal behavior is a good indication your pet may be in pain.
While recognizing pain in pets isn’t always easy, don’t let that deter you from staying vigilant. The first step in helping your pet feel better is being able to identify when something is wrong!
Treatment of Pain in Pets
Over the last two decades, veterinary medicine has made great strides in pain management and anesthesia. If your pet is exhibiting signs of pain or if you aren’t sure, please visit us to have them evaluated right away. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the sooner we can help them return to a normal, happy life.
Remember, we’re experts when it comes to evaluating pain in pets. Please don’t attempt any treatments by yourself! Also keep in mind that many human pain medications are toxic or even deadly to animals.
As your trusted veterinarian, we’re committed to helping you find a treatment plan that’s tailored to the needs of you and your pet. Please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Mobile Vet M.D. with any questions. We’re always here to help!