dog in pain

People generally avoid experiencing pain, but pets don’t always have that option. In fact, they often hide signs of illness or injury so well that they don’t get help on time. Damaged cells and inflammation can create painful sensations throughout the body. If left alone, dangerous conditions can develop. Knowing the subtle signs of pet pain not only influences early intervention but plays a part in how effective treatment can be.

Short VS Long

Pet pain can be acute (resulting from a recent injury, surgery or illness) or chronic (caused by long-term health problems). The following are just a few conditions that cause pet pain:

  • Broken bones or damaged joints
  • Soft tissue injury
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Arthritis
  • Periodontal disease
  • Ear or skin infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Surgery
  • Stomach upset
  • Certain cancers
  • Intervertebral disk disease

Chronic pain can reduce quality of life. In addition to general discomfort or achiness, chronic pet pain can decrease mobility, flexibility and the ability to participate in daily activities previously enjoyed. 

Acute pain may eventually fade away as the body heals, but it can also turn into chronic pain if the underlying condition isn’t dealt with.

Where Does It Hurt, Buddy?

Despite the fact that animals try to mask any signs of weakness (as a form of self preservation), intuitive and involved owners can get to the bottom of how their pet truly feels.

The biggest indicator has to do with their behavior. If they are typically very active and engaged but then suddenly hide or withdraw, something’s up. Likewise, if a pet is normally independent but becomes clingy overnight it’s best to investigate. Additionally, if your pet isn’t eating, drinking, or going to the bathroom as before, we recommend scheduling an appointment. 

Take a quick look at how they are moving around. Any changes to gait , such as limping, should be addressed. If they aren’t jumping on the couch like before or can’t seem to get comfortable, we’d like to have a look at them.

See the Signs

While we’re all entitled to “off” day every once in a while, the following signs of pet pain will likely only get worse if left alone:

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Tight or twitching muscles
  • Avoiding touch
  • Excessive grooming in the same spot
  • Panting
  • Vocalization
  • Restlessness or pacing
  • Aggression

We encourage pet owners to start taking notes at the onset of symptoms, no matter how subtle, and keep track of frequency or intensity. 

Next Steps for Pet Pain

The important thing for pet owners is to keep their pet comfortable and safe until they can be examined (and then afterwards, too, if needed). Modify any activities to ensure they aren’t going to be in further pain. Raise food/water bowls so they don’t have to drop their head all the way to the floor, set up ramps, and go with them outside to reassure them.

Diagnostics, like ultrasound, bloodwork, and x-rays can be helpful in assessing the symptoms.

We may prescribe medications, rehabilitation, surgery, laser therapy, massage, supplements and lifestyle changes to help support acute and chronic pet pain at home. 

If you have questions or concerns about pet pain, please let us know