A cat sleeping on a towel

We all love our pets, and keeping them healthy and pain-free is a top priority. However, it’s not always easy to tell if our pet is not feeling well, due to a basic survival instinct – and of course, the fact that they don’t have language to tell us how they feel.

Luckily, there are subtle signs that can alert you to when your pet is in pain. This is a lesson we all want to learn, so we can help our beloved furry family members feel better quickly.

Basic Instincts

Animals have evolved to mask signs of pain and discomfort, in order to survive. In the wild, when an animal shows pain, they become vulnerable to predators. This is one reason that identifying pain in our pets is so difficult.

We’d all like to think that we would recognize that our pet is in pain right away. But studies show that pet owners are actually not very good at recognizing pain in our pets. Careful observation of behavior changes has been shown to be the best way to catch problems that cause pain early, and thus, learning to identify these behavior changes becomes important.

In the past two decades, veterinary medicine has made giant strides in the area of pain assessment and pain management in pets. There is an industry recognized pain scale, which allows veterinarians and teams to identify and objectively measure pain in pets in order to more strategically manage pain. So we’ll also help at your pet’s annual preventive care exam to look for signs of pain and help alleviate it if found.

Signs Of Pain In Pets

So what can you do to observe and identify pain in your pet? Start with understanding animal behavior, and look for the following changes in pet behavior to clue you in to possible pain.

  • Panting while at rest
  • A change in friendliness (less to more, and more to less)
  • Pacing
  • Inability to get comfortable or to rest
  • Loss of appetite
  • Grooming excessively or licking a certain area
  • Snapping or growling when touched
  • Favoring one side or limping
  • Increased vocalizing (yowling, crying, whimpering, or barking)

You know your pet better than anyone else, so trust your observations. Your careful attention to their daily behavior, personality and routines may clue you in quickly to their discomfort.

What You Can Do If Your Pet Is In Pain

Pain management is vital to your pet’s recovery from illness and injury. That’s why it’s important that you call us if you see any signs of pain in your pet. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the sooner they can get the relief they deserve, and the more quickly they can heal.

In addition, you can help create some creature comforts at home while they are under our treatment. Make sure your pet has the following:

  • A soft, warm bed in a quiet spot
  • Easy access to essentials (food, water, litter box)
  • Position your pet so they don’t have to navigate stairs or other obstacles to go out to the bathroom
  • Give them opportunities for rest
  • Provide the highest quality diet you can
  • Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for pain management and relief
  • Call us right away if something is not working

Pain prevention and management for animals is as important to us as it is to you, please give us a call if you feel your pet’s pain needs to be evaluated. Your pet’s health and comfort is Parkside Animal Hospital’s top priority.