Coco's Musings

How to Tell If Your Pet Is in Pain

Cats and dogs do a good job of hiding their discomfort. They are designed that way. Most pets if they hit their body or jump off and land awkwardly, fell or slip, they will cry and whimper but otherwise they will not complain. This makes our job as veterinarians or pet caregivers very hard. We sometimes have a hard time knowing when they are in pain. It would be a lot easier to ask them if they hurt and where it hurts. Since we can not ask them, it is helpful to know some of the signs that may indicate that they are in pain:

  1. Breathing, Heart and Pulse Changes – Most cats and dogs in pain can pant heavily. Cats panting is very rare and it would indicate an extreme distress that should not be ignored. Cats panting with no other plausible causes should be examined by Dr Esra or a veterinarian immediately.  In general, cats and dogs in pain will breathe quick and shallow. During an exam, Dr Esra or your veterinarian can check their heart rate and respiratory rate to see if it is increased or note the changes when touched at certain spot.
  2. If your pet is excessively licking part of his/her body where they are creating skin irritations or sores. Some pets will lick due to allergies but sometimes they lick due to joint pain or muscle pain or nerve impingement.  It is best to have your pet examined.
  3. If your pet who does not normally bite but when you touch a spot, your pet bites or nips or growls or try to warn you not to touch then you need to bring your pet to be examined.
  4. It is important to monitor the posture of your pet. They may be limping or favoring a leg as well. Cats and dogs in pain may lie around more frequently and will be less motivated to get up. Some may have difficulty finding a comfortable position. An arched or sunken back, or a tucked tail can be very subtle but should be taken seriously.
  5. Observe your pets’ eyes. Your pets’ pupils may change with pain. They can be dilated or constricted. Blinking or squinting can indicate eye pain.
  6. Food, Water, and Activity Changes – Any time your pets food, water or activity changes please start to pay attention. Pets who are in pain will frequently eat and drink less than normal. They will have a decrease in their activity level. They will be sleeping more and not running or jumping as much.
  7. Bathroom Habits – Cats and dogs who are in pain may not able to defecate normally and then can get constipated. Some can not squat comfortably. Back pain is one the most common problems that can cause constipation.

After Dr Esra, or your veterinarian examines your pet they will give you their recommendation on how to help your pet. There are great supplements and newer pain medications available to manage pain. It is important to examine your pets who are older than seven twice a year. By examining twice a year your veterinarian can notice subtle changes and can catch things early.

Please call Nease Animal Hospital 904-209-5740 for more information, or to schedule your pet’s examination.