Is Your Pet in Pain?
The signs you need to look out for, and what you can do about it!
Many people don't understand pain when it comes to their pets. They may see their older dogs slowing down, but they don't contribute it to anything other than old age.
They may think about pain when a pet is hit by a car or has broken a limb, but that may be as far as it goes.
So, what does it look like when your dog or cat is in pain? Here are some signs that you may want to think about.
How well is your pet moving around? When pets slow down and walk gingerly, they may be struggling with some pain. When they don't want to jump up on the couch or bed like they used it, it may also be due to pain. Watch to see if your dog bounces down the stairs normally, or if he or she takes extra time to get downstairs.
Is your dog or cat struggling to lay down or get up? He or she may be dealing with pain. If you notice that your dog circles multiple times before trying to lay down, he or she may be uncomfortable.
Has your pet's attitude changed lately? Your normally relaxed dog or cat may seem a little grumpy. He or she may lash out when you try to pet him or her. Your pet may move away from any contact.
Is your cat not using the litter box anymore? Some cats stop getting in the litter box because it is too hard to do so. You may notice that your cat may start urinating or defecating outside of the box, either occasionally or all of the time. You may be able to find a shorter box to help with this problem.
Is your dog having accidents in the house? Your dog may not make it to the door anymore whenever he or she has to go.
Has your cat quit grooming him or herself (or just not doing it as much)? Many cats quit grooming when it becomes too hard to do so. Others stop because they are overweight.
Is your dog licking him or herself at all? There are times when compulsive licking can be a sign of pain, especially if they seem to be focused on one area. If your dog is licking his leg, that area may be painful.
What can you do if you think that your pet is in pain?
You should set up an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will use this time to talk to you about the changes that you are noticing at home, as well as watching how your pet moves around while exploring the room.
He or she will also do a thorough examination to look for areas that are painful to the touch. That being said, many animals won't show pain, because of the stress of the visit.
Your veterinarian may also recommend running blood work before talking to you about different medications that are recommended. Some of the medications can affect your pet's kidney and liver, so you want to make sure that they can handle the medications.
Your veterinarian may recommend a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory to help with the pain. These medications are supposed to help reduce pain and inflammation, which can make the pain worse.
You should also consider starting a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement. These medications are very safe and effective. In fact, you may not need to give your pet any medication other than this one. That being said, it can take a few weeks for this medication to take effect, so you might not see any changes right away.
Weight loss is essential for overweight pets. Every extra pound that your dog or cat carries only makes it harder for him or her. You need to cut back on your pet's food in order to help your pet get to a better weight.
A little exercise can also help. Short walks, swimming, or other forms of physical therapy may help your pet when he or she is painful. Though it sounds counterproductive, movement can help with pain, especially from arthritis.
Just like we don't like living with pain, our animals don't either. They may not show it like we do, but if you watch your pet carefully, you should be able to tell that he or she is dealing with some pain. You may notice that your cat or dog isn't as active. He or she may not jump up on the bed or run down the stairs as easily as your pet used to. Cats may stop using the litter box and grooming themselves. Your dog may have accidents in your home, or you may notice that he or she is biting constantly.
If you notice this, it is time to set up an appointment. There are many things that your veterinarian can do to make sure that your pet lives as comfortably as possible! You may need to give daily medications, though you may also need to give it as needed.
Previously published on Medium.
About the author
Small town country girl in southern Pennsylvania. Raising two boys on a small farm filled with horses, goats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, dogs, and a cat. Certified veterinary technician and writer at Virtually Shelley.