Animals are good at concealing pain. Masking pain is an evolutionary trait that animals developed with time to avoid appearing weak in the presence of predators.
Acute pain is hard to miss. The pet will let out a painful cry, be less engaged in play, or walk with a limp. However, when the pain is chronic, and the pet can withstand it, the signs are quite subtle. Most people mistake it for “aging” and “slowing down.” All the while, the pet continues to endure pain.
Here are the top signs that you should watch out to determine whether your pet is in pain:
A pet in pain will either groom excessively or not groom at all. If the grooming becomes obsessive and excessive, your pet could be in pain. Be attentive to see whether the pet grooms a localized area all the time. Wounds and cuts will be apparent, but bruising will cause internal pain. Licking is the pet’s way of soothing itself. When hurt, the pet’s initial instinct is to care and clean the hurt regions by licking them. Have a veterinarian examine the “hot spots.”
In contrast, some pets stop grooming entirely. They start to look rugged, and an owner might mistake it for old age. Contrarily, it could be that the pet has some spinal pain that makes it hard to bend or stretch enough to reach some areas.
Birds tend to pluck the feathers from the painful region. If you see that, watch out for other signs because feather picking is also a behavioral problem. Even healthy birds do it.
Increased vocalization is also one of the early signs of pain. Masking discomfort is difficult, and since animals cannot talk, some express themselves by becoming noisier. A dog will whine, bark, growl, or howl more than usual. Increased purring is also a sign of pain for a cat.
Most pets love to eat. It’s one of the qualities that make feeding time enjoyable. An appetite decline is a clear sign that not all is well. Your pet will start to prefer sleeping to eat when in pain. Your pet may also drink less water. Reduced feeding could mean that the pet is giving itself time to heal or having difficulty moving to the eating area. When having dental pain, the pet may express disinterest, particularly in taking dried foods, or when eating it, the chews appear firm. Appetite loss may also be a sign of a more serious condition, like cancer or liver and kidney problems. Therefore, once you notice an appetite shift, see a veterinarian.
Your once docile and dotting pet may stop meeting you at the door and start to avoid any contact. It may begin to hide and become antisocial with other pets. Some even become aggressive to their owners.
Also, the pet may become agitated and restless. Right in its solitary state, the pet may have difficulty getting into a comfortable position. It may start pacing back and forth. Getting to sleep may also become quite difficult. If you notice any antisocial behavior and agitation, your pet may be in pain.
Pets shake and tremble when cold or old, but temperature and old age are not always the cause. Trembling and shaking could be a sign that the pet is in pain or has a more serious condition. Some conditions that cause shaking include kidney disease, pancreatitis, or poisoning. Also, ingesting foods like chocolate or moldy compost causes violent muscle tremors.
Generally, abnormalities or behavior change are the primary indicators of pain in pets. For a professional diagnosis and treatment, visit the Community Pet Outreach in Lewisville, Texas. You can also call 972-848-8930 to book your appointment.