Sep 9, 2021

How to Recognize Pain in Pets

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

We are officially in the second week of Animal Pain Awareness Month. For those who missed last week’s blog, September was declared Animal Pain Awareness Month by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) to help owners recognize the signs of pain in pets so they can seek help from a veterinarian when needed.

When it comes to pain in pets, it’s not always easy to tell that our animals are hurting. Some pets are masters at hiding their pain. But there are some tips and tricks to help determine if your pet might be in pain. It is also helpful to understand the various types and causes of pain.

Types of Pain in Pets

There are multiple types of pain in pets. But first, we must understand the difference between acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is characterized by pain that has come on suddenly or has only been present for a short period of time. Examples of acute pain include pain after surgery or from a new injury, such as a fall. Alternatively, chronic pain can be more subtle and may be considered just “slowing down” or “getting old.” An example of chronic pain is osteoarthritis pain.

Digging a little deeper, we can look at the three primary classifications of pain. The first is nociceptive pain. This type of pain is caused by noxious stimulation such as an injury/physical damage, exposure to chemicals, or exposure to extreme temperatures. The next classification of pain, and one that we talk about frequently on this blog, is inflammatory pain. As its name implies, this type of pain stems from acute or chronic inflammation. And lastly, we have neuropathic pain which is caused by damage to an element of the nervous system.

Signs that your Pet may be in Pain
But how do you know if your pet is in pain? As we mentioned, pets can be good at hiding their pain. Fortunately, there are some potential signs of pain in pets that you can keep an eye out for. The IVAPM has provided a list of the most common signs of pain in pets:

  • Decreased activity – Take notice if your animal is not playing as much as usual
  • Not going up or down stairs – This could be an early sign of osteoarthritis
  • Reluctance to jump onto surfaces – This especially applies to cats
  • Difficulty standing after laying down – This is a sign of osteoarthritis
  • Decreased appetite – This can signal mouth pain
  • Over grooming or licking a particular area – This can be a sign of referred pain

For a more extensive list of symptoms of pain in both dogs and cats, visit the IVAPM website.

While September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, it’s a good idea to always keep an eye out for these potential signs of pain. If you notice that your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, call your veterinarian. And stay tuned for next week’s blog about how stem cells can treat pain!


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