It is easy to express pain when you can communicate with the people around you, but how can our animals do it? Without the ability to use words to communicate, your pet may show signs of pain through their behavior. Here are some things you can look out for if you think your pet may be in pain.
Hard to Spot
Unlike people, pets cannot use words to tell us directly when they are uncomfortable or in pain. Therefore, it is best to look out for hard to spot signs of pain in your pet. Any slight change in behavior such as hiding, a decrease in activity, whimpering, or changes in eating and drinking habits are reason enough to call your vet. According to AAHA guidelines, signs of pain can also include lethargy, inappropriate urination or defecation, not wanting to be touched, and panting, among other things.
Pain in cats can be much harder to identify. Dr. Clanin recommends watching for changes in gait, such as shorter steps or walking in an awkward manner. Pay close attention to the way your cat jumps up onto things, as this will change if your cat is in pain. Grooming may be neglected, so keep an eye on your cat’s fur for an increase in matting, especially near the base of the back by the tail. This can be an especially difficult place to reach when your cat is in pain.
While these signs are very general, each animal’s personality varies. If you notice anything out of their regular behavior, consider contacting your veterinarian.
Sources of Pain
Aging and Arthritis
It is a fact of life that we all get older, and that applies to our pets as well. As your pet ages, it may develop painful illnesses associated with aging, such as arthritis. Vetstreet identifies arthritis as, “a disease of the joints that typically reduces a pet’s mobility and causes pain.” It can be managed with regular anti-inflammatory medication, but treatment will vary by pet. If you notice that your pet has slowed down in their old age and seem to have more difficulty moving around, you may be noticing the onset of arthritis.
If your pet is at an unhealthy weight, they are at risk of developing many painful diseases. Diabetes is common in obese pets, and can cause neuropathy or painful tingling. Diabetic neuropathy is more often seen in diabetic cats rather than dogs, according to Dr. Clanin, but that does not make the disease any less painful for canines.
Obesity can put unhealthy strain on your pet’s joints as well as their spines, which can lead to arthritis as they age. According to Dr. Clanin, obesity can put your pet at a greater risk for orthopedic injuries, such as broken bones, as they are weakened by your pet’s increased weight. Obesity can also cause various spinal diseases in your pet, which can also become exacerbated with age. Consult this webpage for more information regarding healthy weight, caloric needs, and healthy weight loss.
Prevent the Pain
There are steps you can take to prevent your pet from developing pain as they age. If your pet is in good shape, gets regular exercise, and eats a balances and appropriate diet, they will be at a better advantage to avoid pain related to aging and obesity. AAHA recommends regular maintenance to keep your pet from developing pain, such as regular nail trims, ear cleanings, anal gland expressions, baths, and teeth brushing. Having your pet regularly examined by a veterinarian will help to identify pain in your pet before it becomes extreme.
Like any illness, diagnosis and treatment varies from pet to pet. Be sure to contact your veterinarian and have a discussion about pain management if you suspect that your pet may be in pain or uncomfortable. Always take the proper precautions to help prevent your pet from developing painfull illnesses such as arthritis and illnesses and injuries caused by obesity.