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Signs of pain in pets sleeping dog

Is your dog in pain? Look for these signs

It is nearly September, or as it is known in the veterinary community, Animal Pain Awareness Month.

As pet owners, we hate to see our pets in pain or uncomfortable, but unfortunately, it’s not always easy to identify how our pets are really feeling, particularly when they have chronic pain. Learning to recognize the signs of chronic pain can help you better understand when your pet might need more pain management care.

Acute pain is easier to recognize and can often be more alarming to pet owners as a result. Your dog might yelp or even growl at you if you touch a sensitive area. They might refuse to put weight on a limb, and their breathing might be rapid and shallow, even at rest. If you see signs of acute pain, you should see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Chronic pain can affect pets of any age, although it’s often mistaken for normal aging and “slowing down.” These are the signs that we might not think to mention to our primary care veterinarian but could indicate conditions such as osteoarthritis. Living with chronic pain can have a negative impact on our pet’s quality of life, and there are many treatments available today to help manage pain and keep our pets active.

Signs your pet is in pain

Here are some of the subtle ways our pets indicate they are uncomfortable. If you notice these signs in your pet, talk to your primary care veterinarian. One option they might recommend is surgery, and if appropriate for your pet, your veterinarian could refer you for a surgical consult.

  • Obsessive licking at one area
  • Decreased appetite or interest in food
  • Sleeping more than usual or less active than normal
  • Not getting up to greet you when you come home
  • More restless at night and inability to settle
  • No interest in walks or lagging behind on walks
  • Having accidents in the house if they have always been housebroken
  • Isolating away from the family
  • Struggling to get up from a down position
  • Pinning their ears back frequently
  • Not wanting to be touched
  • Not wanting to jump in or out of a vehicle
  • Struggling to get up on furniture that they were previously able to do with ease

Chronic pain can often be managed through a multi-modal treatment approach that can include veterinarian prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs); weight loss; regular, low-impact exercise; rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise; home modifications to help pets get around with more ease; laser therapy; massage; surgery when appropriate, and more. Combining different treatments can help our pets experience greater relief and help them continue to enjoy the activities they love.


Posted August 19, 2021 by Animal Surgical in Joint pain management, Pet Health with No Comments

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