Unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us when they’re in pain. While veterinarians are trained to detect pain and illness, the first person to recognize if your pet is hurting will be you. Often dogs and cats instinctively mask injury and illness as a protective mechanism, so it can be challenging to detect when they’re in pain. It is important to recognize when your pet is in pain and quickly seek treatment to help alleviate your pet’s suffering. Even subtle changes in your pet’s behavior can be an indication that your furry friend is experiencing pain.
General signs of pain can include a change in normal behavior, such as decreased appetite, lethargy (or decrease in activity), decreased desire to be touched or pet, and for cats, decreased grooming. Abnormal behavior such as vocalization, altered posture, aggression or decreased interaction with other pets or family members in the household, hiding, or inappropriate urination/defecation can also be indications of pain.
Sometimes these symptoms can be easily overlooked, particularly in cats. For example, arthritis in an older kitty may be attributed to “old age” rather than pain or a cat that urinates inappropriately may have a painful lower urinary tract disease rather than a behavior issue.
There are steps you can take to prevent painful conditions and unnecessary problems in your pet’s future. Providing regular dental care reduces the incidence of mouth pain, and preventing obesity reduces the risk and severity of arthritic pain. Treating your pet’s pain will depend on the source and severity. Pain management may include lifestyle changes, pain medications, holistic treatments such as acupuncture and laser therapy, or nutritional supplements.
Good nutrition and exercise along with regular wellness checks with your Pawz Veterinarian will help prevent and manage your pet’s pain and ensure they enjoy a long, healthy life.