Recognising Pain in Dogs and Cats
Updated: Sep 30, 2021
As owners the last thing we want is for our pets to be in pain, but in some cases animals are good at disguising it, making it easier for us to miss. You may be able to recognise the more obvious pain signals, but could you spot the subtle indicators? This post aims to help you recognise pain in your dogs and cats.
Why do they hide it?
Dogs have evolved over time from their wild ancestors, wolves, so the domesticated breeds we have today are naturally good at hiding signs of pain and discomfort. In the wild, by concealing signs of injury, their predators would not see them as an 'easy target'. Although our pet dogs are not under this same risk, they still behave in the same way.
The same can be said for cats, in the wild they would hide signs of illness or pain, otherwise they could become more vulnerable to predators, or be bullied or abandoned by their group. Despite both species behaving in this way, they are a range of important cues to look out for.
How do they show it?
Dogs and cats can show pain through physical changes, behavioural changes or changes in their mobility (look out for the cat or dog for species specific signs).
You may notice several of these signs together, or one on its own, but the most important thing to remember is that if your dog or cat's behaviour or routine changes in anyway, take note. You will know what is 'normal' for your animal so will find it easier to recognise when something is not quite right.
Pay attention to whether you notice any of the above signs at certain times for example;
- early in the morning or late at night
- after a longer walk
- after waking up from rest
- after any form of exercise
What can you do to help?
If you are concerned that your animal is in pain, please seek veterinary advice, as it is important to find the source to provide effective treatment. Whether the pain is acute (short term) or chronic (long term) it can be managed with a multimodal approach e.g. medication, physiotherapy, acupuncture etc.
If you are worried about your animal and would like some more information feel free to contact me for advice.