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Signs of Pain

Many pets are extremely good at hiding when they are in pain. It is a survival instinct as they do not want to show weakness. Here are some common signs of pain in our furry friends:

  1. Hiding – When a pet isn’t feeling well, they frequently find a quiet and comfortable spot to hide.
  2. Not Eating – Many pets will stop eating when they aren’t feeling well. It can be due to many different things including gastrointestinal pain, organ disease, or dental pain. Some pets may also eat more with certain diseases.
  3. Vocalization – For dogs, whimpering, howling, and whining can be signs of pain. Hissing, yowling, spitting, and meowing can be signs of pain in a cat. Vocalization while trying to have a bowel movement, for instance, can be the animal trying to let you know that they are in pain or having trouble.
  4. Reduced Activity – If a pet isn’t feeling well, you may notice that they don’t want to play as much, or they aren’t excited to go for a walk. It can be because they are in pain and having trouble with the activity they would usually love.
  5. Aggression – If a pet isn’t feeling well and humans try to interact with the pet, the pet may react negatively. They may growl or hiss, or bite or scratch if they do not have to be picked up or interacted with.
  6. Grooming Changes – Some pets may groom themselves excessively if they are stressed or in pain. For example, when anal glands are abscessed or need to be expressed, many pets will lick excessively in that area. Some pets, when they aren’t feeling well, will stop grooming entirely which may lead to a matted or unhealthy coat.
  7. Changes in Urination or Defecation Patterns – If your pet normally urinates or defecates in the same area and same frequency, then suddenly changes, something could be wrong. For example, many cats with urinary crystals will suddenly start urinated outside of the litterbox. Dogs with UTIs will be trying to urinate much more frequently.
  8. Decreased Social Interaction – Many pets greet their owners at the door when they get home from work or school. If your pet suddenly stops doing this, they may not be feeling very well. Alternatively, if your pet loves to watch TV with the family every night and suddenly doesn’t want to anymore, something could be wrong. Any change in their normal interactions and behaviour is worth noting.
  9. Increased Anxiety – If your pet has suddenly begun shaking, pacing, or seeing unsettled or restless, they may be in pain.
  10. Changes in Posture – If your pet is in pain, they may change the way they stand or appear in an attempt to make themselves feel better. For instance, we frequently see dogs come in with hunched backs if they have sore backs or necks.

Signs of pain will vary from pet to pet. If your pet is acting in a way that is not normal for them, you should touch base with your veterinarian. It is essential to monitor all pets closely for any changes in behaviour or patterns. Some signs of pain can be hard to miss, so it is important that we as pet owners pay attention. If you have questions about pain and your pet, or how to alleviate pain in your pet, please contact us today!

Written by: Mikaila Cariou, RVT

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