The first step in treating pain in animals is recognizing pain. This can be difficult since they are geared to hide it. Pets are very good at going about their daily lives in spite of sometimes significant pain. Since everything seems normal, we can miss their pain and they may suffer because of this. However, there are many subtle (and no-so-subtle) clues that your pet may be in pain:
- Abnormal posture: hunched, praying, sitting or laying abnormally
- Abnormal gait: limping, stiff, carrying a leg
- Abnormal movements: thrashing, restless, inactive when awake, escape/hiding
- Vocalization: howling, crying, barking. Pets that are normally vocal may become quiet
- Licking/chewing one area
- Twitching skin in response to touch
- Snapping/biting when painful area is touched, overall irritability
- Failure to stretch, shake, or yawn like normal
- Trouble jumping up or down, maneuvering over stairs or into car
- Lack of interest or changes in daily routine—not greeting their owner at the door, failure to use cat box, loss of housetraining, disinterest in play or walks, sleeping in strange places, less interaction with family (or suddenly clingy)
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble sleeping/restlessness at night
Any change in behavior can indicate there might be pain. And if a pet has experienced something that would be considered painful in a person, like an injury or surgery, it is likely that pet is experiencing pain.
The fact that our pets can’t talk and tell us what might be bothering them means we must be especially diligent in monitoring for and treating pain. To allow them to suffer silently is no longer appropriate. Many solutions exist to help minimize pain in our pets and help them live more comfortable lives, and we’ll go over these in our next blog. If you think your pet may be experiencing pain, please contact us at 303-432-8551. We’re here to help!