Identifying Pain in Pets

A white cat hiding under a bed

The occasional scrape or boo-boo is something that most pets experience, especially our rambunctious dogs. Pets express their pain differently, and for those who have chronic pain, it takes a toll on the behavior. Unfortunately, pain is not always easy to identify in our animal companions because the behaviors may not be recognized. 

It is important to understand the subtleties of pain experienced in our pets. This is why the team at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital wants to help you learn more about identifying pain in pets and what you can do to help them feel better.

How Do I Know if My Pet Is in Pain?

Pain is expressed in many ways, some of which can be obvious like a limp, while others are hard to detect. In many cases, chronic pain can result in marked behavior changes.

There are some signs that point to pain in pets that should not be missed. These may be physical or mental.

Physical symptoms of pain include:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Arched back
  • Trembling, shaking
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Wincing when touched
  • Favoring one side
  • Lameness
  • Difficulty lying down or getting ip
  • Lethargy

Your pet’s behavior may also change when they experience discomfort. Take notice of any of the following behavioral or demeanor changes in your fur friend.

  • Increased vocalization (howling, barking, meowing, etc.)
  • Excessive licking
  • Depression
  • Lack of interest in exercise or being held
  • Clinginess or hiding
  • Aggression

A sudden change in your pet’s personality is something that should definitely be investigated. Also, follow up with your veterinarian even if your pet just seems off somehow. Your intuition can lead to faster treatment for your sweet friend. 

Treatment for Pain

During diagnosis, we will evaluate your pet to pinpoint the cause of their discomfort. We will run blood tests and order diagnostic imaging, like Xray and ultrasound where warranted. We’ll discuss with you the changes you have noticed and do a thorough physical examination to look for injuries or signs of trauma, as well as any concerning mobility problems.

There are a variety of options to alleviate your pet’s pain through medications and alternative methods like laser therapy. Some pets require ongoing care for a disease or condition that contributes to chronic pain.

We will also discuss with you at home care to help with your furry one, such as exercise modification, special beds that offer more cushioning, dietary changes, and so on.

If you suspect your pet is in pain, do not hesitate to call us. We want to get your pet feeling great again as soon as possible.