A lot of signs and symptoms of pain our pets have may be obvious, but some are subtle or even “hidden” by those very smart (and instinctual) fur babies.
The best way to know if your pet is experiencing some form of pain is to really get to know them from the beginning. The more you know and are familiar with their habits and behavior the more likely you will be able to see the not-so-obvious signs of pain. And then you’ll be able to address the issue right away!
Here are some signs to look for that may indicate your furry family member may be in pain.
Canines are more apt to let you know they aren’t feeling well or are in pain, but some changes in behavior can be misjudged. So be sure to know what is “normal” for your pup
- Any change in eating, diet, or sleeping.
- Change in general behavior such as hiding, not greeting you at the door, aggression.
- Being vocal – crying, whimpering, an unusual bark.
- Licking or chewing on certain area(s) excessively.
- Heavy panting or shallow breaths.
- Limping, stiff legs/movement, or slow to get up.
- Reluctant to jump or climb stairs.
- Restless or pacing and can’t seem to get comfortable.
- Change in posture (hunched, play bow, stretching more than usual).
- Shaking or trembling.
Felines are very good at hiding pain and they are subtler at showing any signs, so really knowing your cat’s personality and behavior is key.
- Any change in eating, diet, or sleeping habits.
- Low energy level and reluctant to jump.
- Biting or scratching.
- Rapid or shallow breathing.
- Increased heart rate.
- Excessive purring or vocalization.
- Change in pupil size (squinting, large or small).
- Grooming (most sick cats won’t groom themselves but will excessively lick the painful area).
- Trouble posturing for urination or defecation, or getting in or out of the litterbox.
- Drooling (especially when there is oral pain or infection).
Some causes of pain include osteoarthritis, trauma (causing fractures or swelling), cancer, bladder or kidney stones, UTI or cystitis, urethral obstruction, ear infection (or any infection), inflammation (pancreatitis, gastritis, enteritis), foreign body obstruction (toys, sticks, socks, money, just about anything they should never eat!), a linear foreign body (rope, ribbon, or something that can easily unravel and cause an accordion effect on the intestines!), tooth fracture, periodontal disease, resorptive tooth lesion, eye issues (corneal ulcer, uveitis, glaucoma), or feline aortic thromboembolism.
Any time you believe your furry family member is in pain, make sure you can clearly describe your concerns and your animal’s behavior to your vet (what are they doing differently). From there, your vet should do an extensive examination to truly pinpoint the cause and determine what treatment would be the best for your animal. Treatment could be as mild as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer, daily joint supplements, or weight reduction; or more involved such as physical therapy, acupuncture, or LTCI (Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator).
As with everything when caring for your pet, make sure to consult your veterinarian, and remember, the better you know your fur baby, the more you can help them live the best life possible!