How Can you Tell When your Pet is in Pain?

A small, blond puppy lays under a table with a ball. It might be in need of emergency pet care.

When you are the proud parent to a pet, the love and loyalty you extend to her is often on a par with that you give to the humans in your family. For most of us, the thought of our pet being unhappy, uncomfortable or in pain can be too much to bear. Unfortunately, realizing that this is the case might be harder than you expect.

One of the biggest challenges of pet ownership is actually identifying when there is something wrong with your pet – including whether or not she is in pain. This is primarily because animals instinctively try and hide any vulnerabilities that they have so that they do not appear weak to any predators that they come across. While for domestic pets the likelihood of coming into contact with a predator is very small, the disposition of covering their discomfort remains.

So, with this in mind, how can you tell if your beloved pet is experiencing pain? Here are some of the most common, telltale signs that your precious pet is hurting.

Excessive vocalization

If you have a pet that is fairly capable of being vocal, such as a dog or cat, you may notice that your furbaby is making more noise than usual. This could manifest as yelping, howling, whining, snarling or growling – each animal is different. However, if she is vocalizing more than is usual for her, she could be unwell or in pain.

Localized grooming

Many animals, including cats and dogs, are known for being fairly fastidious in their grooming, and watching her pay special attention to keeping herself clean is anything but unusual. However, if she is closely grooming the same area over and over, there could be something going on in that part of her body that is causing her to be disturbed. In addition, dogs will often lick their paws constantly in an attempt to soothe themselves. If you spot either of these behaviours, seek the advice of your vet.

Unusual behaviors

Once your pet is settled in, she will probably exhibit fairly consistent behaviors. However, if this suddenly changes there is likely to be an underlying cause. Sudden behavioral changes can be suddenly becoming withdrawn or aggressive, or a potty-trained, well-adjusted animal choosing to toilet where they shouldn’t and becoming anxious or suffering from separation anxiety.

Changes in routine

Most pets adopt a fairly rigid routine quite quickly, sleeping for around the same amount of time each, eating specific meals and drinking roughly the same quantity of fluid each day. If your furbaby willingly changes up her usual day-to-day activities, loses her appetite or starts drinking a lot more or much less, she could be suffering in some way and require veterinary intervention. Also keep an eye on her bathroom activities. If she has persistent diarrhea, is straining to have a bowel movement or seems unable to pee, you need veterinary assistance.

Mobility difficulties

While there may be many reasons for a pet to be in pain, if she has injured a part of her body, she may also exhibit some difficulties in moving around. If she is limping, walking with a strange gait, refusing to exercise or has an unusual posture, she may have hurt herself and needs to be checked over by your vet. This may involve taking x-rays as well as your vet performing a physical examination of your animal.

You know your pet better than anyone else. If you have reason to suspect that she may be in pain, don’t let her suffer a moment longer than she has to. Contact and speak to our veterinarian to get their advice or to schedule an assessment for your pet to be checked over.