Animal Pain: How To Recognize And Treat

animal painSeptember is Animal Pain Awareness Month, and unlike humans, our pets are not able to tell us when they are in pain.  Signs of animal pain can often be subtle changes in behavior, especially in cats.  Therefore, it is important for pet owners to be able to recognize signs of pain.

Most people understand that if their pet has a wound or has surgery that their pet is going to be painful.  Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize the signs of chronic pain as their pet ages and just chalk it up to their pet getting older or slowing down.

Common signs of animal pain in dogs:

  • Reluctance to move, limping, trouble getting up
  • Decreased interaction with family members
  • Vocalization (whimpering, growling, howling)
  • Guarding of the painful area
  • Aggression
  • Self-mutilation/chewing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Change in posture

Common signs of animal pain in cats:

  • Decreased activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Not as curious, quiet, hiding
  • Not jumping up
  • Not using the litter box
  • Stiff posture
  • Matted fur due to lack of grooming
  • Tail flicking
  • Weight loss

The recognition and assessment of pain is an important part of the veterinary team.  Every exam should include evaluation of temperature, pulse, respiration, and pain score.  If chronic pain is not recognized and managed it can lead to premature euthanasia.  Alleviating animal pain can help extend your pet’s life.

The main stay of chronic pain management is using pharmaceutical products.  Effective pain management usually involves using multiple medications that affect the pain pathway in different sites.  By using multiple medications, veterinarians can use a lower dose of medication which will help minimize side effects.

Non-pharmaceutical pain treatment options:

  • Weight loss
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Nutritional management
  • Hot or cold compresses
  • Environmental modification
  • Laser therapy

Effective pain management helps increase healing, enhances your pet’s quality of life and increases the human-animal bond.  Minor behavior changes could be a sign that your pet is in pain.  Be aware and discuss any behavioral changes that you see with your veterinary team.

border decoration
border decoration