It Can’t Hurt: Learning to Recognize When Pets Are in Pain

You love your furry family members, so you may think you’d be able to tell right away if they were hurting. But sometimes, the signs can be subtle, confusing, or downright puzzling. September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, making it the ideal time to learn to recognize pain in pets and what to do about it.

Changes In Behavior

Most often, dogs and cats show pain through behavioral changes. It makes sense, right? Think about how you act when you’re hurting. You may be less mobile or vocal than usual due to an injury or muscle aches, your appetite may disappear, or you may sleep more. The same is true for our pets.

Acute pain is often obvious – think of a dog (or human) suddenly yelping while being active. But chronic pain may come on more slowly, or even be written off as a new habit. You may think pets who spend more time in bed or don’t want to play are just getting lazy or old, but they could be hurting too much to move.

Signs & Symptoms

Common signs of pain in dogs include excessive panting and licking, restlessness, aggression, and whimpering. Dogs and cats alike will skip meals if they’re hurting – nausea may be to blame, or arthritis or an injury make standing up painful.

Cats tend to hide their pain – literally. A cat who isn’t feeling well may disappear to the darkest corners of the house for long periods. Housetraining accidents are also a red flag, especially in male cats, who can develop urinary blockages that can be life-threatening.

Pay close attention when there is a change in your pet’s normal behavior.

Treatment Options

Some causes of pain are clear emergencies that require urgent care, such as bleeding wounds, sudden lameness, vomiting, traumatic injuries, and more. We recommend calling your nearest emergency veterinary hospital to let them know you’re coming – they can also talk you through administering first aid and transporting your pet safely.

If you suspect your pet is in pain but the cause is not clear, call your veterinarian promptly to discuss what you’re seeing. If it’s after normal business hours, a 24-hour emergency hospital like Burleson Animal Emergency Hospital can advise you on whether your pet’s having an emergency (remember, some are not obvious!) or if it’s okay to wait until your primary veterinary clinic opens.

A thorough examination and diagnostics such as X-rays and blood work will help determine what is causing the pain. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment could range from something as simple as diet changes, to medication, to surgery, physical rehabilitation, rest, or even acupuncture, which can be very successful in helping pets find relief.

Our Approach –  Pain Management

Here at Burleson Animal Emergency Hospital, our experienced team of emergency veterinarians and technicians are available 24/7/365, providing comprehensive and compassionate care for your pet any time, day or night. We develop personalized treatment and pain management plans and frequently evaluate to adjust care as needed, so no matter the cause, your pet’s pain can become a thing of the past.

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