Pets are part of our lives, our families and our mental health.  But have you asked yourself if your pet may be in pain? It is approximated that 20-25% of dogs and cats are suffering from chronic pain, with arthritis being the leading cause. Chronic pain can take a toll on our pet’s lifespan as well as their quality of life. 

Signs to look out for:

Animals have a survival instinct to want to hide pain which makes it harder for pet owners to recognize signs of pains. Here are a few signs to look out for:

  1. Changes in your pet’s behavior or movement are not just signs that they’re getting ‘old’. Your pet may move differently, guard a body part that hurts, or seem slower getting up or down. Cats may stop using the litter box because the sides may be too high and it is uncomfortable to step in and out.  
  2.  Your pet may stop taking good care of themselves. A matted or dull haircoat can indicate pain. 
  3. Difference facial expressions, such as the set of the ears, or squint in the eyes can signal something is wrong.  
  4. Painful animals often have changes in eating. They may be more reluctant to get up and move to food and water, or their mouth may hurt.   
  5. Your pet may also be less social.  Animals in pain, like people, often don’t want to be bothered. They may lash out, sleep in strange places, and interact less with the family.

By the time your pet cries out, the pain has been going on for a while. Veterinarians say pet owners usually tell them that they didn’t think their dog was in pain because they still chased squirrels. Just like we humans – things that we love will often help us ‘push through’ pain – only to pay for it the next day, when we are even more sore.  

If you think your pet may be in pain, it is important to consult with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will employ additional tools to measure your pet’s pain as accurately as possible and use these tools to continue to monitor your pet through any prescribed treatment.  

In fact, special thermal imaging cameras can help clinicians localize areas that need further investigation. If your veterinarian is a member of the IVAPM, they are fully committed to helping your pet lead his best, pain-free life. You can also search for a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner (CVPP) in your area, who is a veterinary professional with advanced training regarding pain management.  Together, you and your veterinarian will agree on a complete pain management program for the long-term health of your pet.