Animal Pain

Pain is as debilitating to your pet as it is to you. We all know how pain prevents us from doing things we enjoy. Dogs and cats who suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia or any other type of physical injury lose the enjoyment they used to associate with daily playtime, walks and romps in the park.

Unlike humans, animals can”t tell us when they”re in pain or how we can help, so must be on the lookout for signs of pain. Fluffy won”t tell you that her hip is bothering her, but you can see it in the way she limps or by her refusal to jump. And it”s heartbreaking to watch our beloved animals living in pain, feeling that we can”t do much to help. But we can!

Twenty years ago, veterinarians thought that pets didn”t feel pain to the degree that humans did. Also, many people think that there”s no way to know whether an animal is in pain, but if you”ve ever seen your pet limping, heard her pet cry out when you touch a tender spot, or watched your pet slowly crawl out of bed due to stiffness, you know that your pet experiences pain.

Thankfully veterinarians today understand that animals do experience pain. While the thinking in the past was that pain was good for the animal as it kept them relatively inactive, treatments are now focused on eliminating all the pain.

The Two Types of Pain

The two basic types of pain are chronic pain and acute pain.

Chronic Pain: Chronic pain is a long-term physical disorder that develops slowly . The most common sources of chronic pain usually stem from problems in the bones, joints and ligaments and include conditions like arthritis, cancer, bone disease and hip dysplasia.

The problem with chronic pain is that some pets may have to live with it their entire lives. To further complicate matters, due to chronic pain”s slow development, some animals gradually learn to tolerate the pain. This becomes a problem because it makes chronic pain difficult to detect.

Acute Pain: Acute pain is the result of traumatic, surgical or infectious events. Unlike chronic pain, acute pain is a short-term pain that begins suddenly. This pain may not be life-long, but it can cause severe discomfort and loss of mobility. We all know how uncomfortable these conditions can be. Imagine then how your dog or cat feels in similar situations. Clearly, you should get an immediate diagnosis and treat the situation before it worsens.

In the event of an emergency such as a broken bone or snakebite, you should take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Be prepared for your pet to undergo surgery if necessary and realize that you will soon have a recovering animal to care for. Ask your veterinarian about post-surgical care. Once your injured pet returns home from the hospital, try to make him as comfortable as possible.

Detecting Pain in Your Pet

Pain is a difficult thing to quantify. We can go see a doctor and complain about the pain, but for our pets, it doesn”t work that way. Animals don”t walk up to you and explain where it hurts, so it”s up to you to detect whether your pet is in pain and where.

The Stoic Cat

Cats are much more subtle about their pain than dogs. You”ll need to carefully observe your feline to discover any problem.

When a pet is in pain, his or her behavior changes. Look for some of these changes and contact your vet if you begin to suspect that your pet is in pain.

  • Your pet has become unusually quiet, unresponsive, listless or restless.
  • Your pet has become more vocal. He or she constantly whines, whimpers, howls or meows.
  • Your pet is constantly licking a certain part of the body.
  • Your pet”s overall temperament has changed. He or she has become unusually aggressive or submissive.
  • Your pet”s habits have changed. He or she eats and sleeps less than normal.
  • Your pet has become distant or is constantly seeking affection.
  • Your pet”s ears are flattened against his or her head.
  • Your pet is limping or is favoring a certain part of the body.
  • Your pet is exhibiting other physiological changes such as excessive salivation, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate.

This section is divided into multiple articles, covering pain management and post surgical care, with both also listed in the menu to the right. To research other pet topics, please use the morefocus search tool, or see the related topics listed right.