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Animal Pain Awareness

Animal Pain Awareness

The Most Common Signs of Pain in Your Pet

Animal Pain Awareness Month, introduced by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM), takes place during the month of September every year to help pet owners understand the signs and symptoms of pain. 

Just like humans, animals suffer from pain, and while it can be subtle, pets can’t tell their owners that something is wrong. This is why a yearly campaign to help inform and empower pet owners is important. The aim is to raise awareness to that animals aren’t suffering. 

One common misconception that pet owners have, is that their cat or dog will cry out or whine when they are in pain. However, this is actually not as common as people believe. Our pets have quite a few other ways to deal with, and show they are in pain. 

 


With that said, below are common signs of pain in both cats and dogs (keep reading to see specific cat and dog lists):

Decreased activity

Take notice if your pet is not playing as much as usual, or simply lying around more than usual.

 

Reluctance to jump up onto surfaces

If your pet is struggling to jump onto surfaces (like couches or beds), that usually are of no trouble, this could be a sign of pain.

 

Decreased appetite

If your pet doesn’t want to eat, this can signal mouth pain, or other internal issues.

 

Over grooming or licking a particular area

If your pet is licking more than usual, this can be a sign of referred pain.

 

Not going up or down stairs

Much like jumping, this could be a sign of joint pain, or an early sign of osteoarthritis.

 

Difficulty standing after lying down

Also a sign of osteoarthritis, this can be an early detection of pain.


Chronic pain can also go unnoticed for a long period of time. Stretching anywhere from weeks to months, it can persist much longer than expected. Cats can be especially good at hiding illnesses. Owners should look out for these specific things in their felines:

  • Reduced activity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Quiet/loss of curiosity
  • Changes in urinary/defecation habits
  • Hiding
  • Hissing or spitting
  • Lack of agility/jumping
  • Excessive licking/grooming
  • Stiff posture/gait
  • Guarding behavior
  • Stops grooming/matted fur
  • Tail flicking
  • Weight loss

Many times dog owners feel that their pet is just “getting old” or “slowing down”. Many times, however, it can actually be chronic pain. Look for these common signs of longer lasting pain in your dog: 

  • Decreased social interaction
  • Anxious expression
  • Submissive behavior
  • Refusal to move
  • Whimpering
  • Howling
  • Growling
  • Guarding behavior
  • Aggression; biting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Self-mutilation (chewing)
  • Changes in posture

We all want to be great pet parents, and that starts with knowing as much as we can about them. We hope that by reading about pain management you’ll further understand your pets and their behaviour. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it might be time for a check up!