How to tell if your pet is in pain
Each September we recognize Animal Pain Awareness Month, which coincides with human medicine’s Pain Awareness Month. The IVAPM (International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management) created this pet-friendly month in 2015 to raise awareness about how animals experience pain and what humans can do to help.
Animals can’t speak up when something hurts, so pet parents must act as their advocates.
Here’s a closer look at what signs to watch for and what to do if you suspect your pet is experiencing pain.
8 warning signs of pain in pets
Animals instinctively try to hide weakness, so signs of feeling pain can be subtle. Careful observation of your pet’s behavior may reveal clues. Here are some red flags:
- Changes in appetite or drinking habits. A pet who is in pain may eat less or drink less water. Dental pain can cause pets to avoid hard kibble or chews.
- Aggressive or antisocial behavior. Pets who are in pain may hide away or avoid interaction more than usual. If your pet has any changes in behavior, contact your vet.
- Grooming excessively, especially in a specific area. A pet’s instinct is to lick a wounded area to clean it. They may try the same behavior for an internal injury or pain.
- Changes in sleeping patterns. When pets are hurting, they may sleep more. They may be resting to hear, or moving may feel too difficult.
- More vocalizations. An increase in barking, howling, whining or growling may signal that your pet isn’t feeling like himself.
- Excessive panting. If your pet is panting heavily when she hasn’t been exercising, it could indicate that breathing is painful or something else is hurting.
- Pacing or restlessness. Repeated pacing back and forth or sleeplessness could signal a health problem.
- Less movement. Loss of interest in activities, exercise or refusing to go up or down stairs may be a sign your pet is in pain. Mobility issues like stiffness or limping can be a sign of an injury, sore paws or arthritis.
- Body changes. Swelling on the face, legs or torso can be a sign of allergic reaction or injury.
The more closely you observe your pet, the more likely you’ll see signs of pain. That’s why it is important to have a baseline idea of your dog’s “normal,” including temperament, energy level, appetite, thirst, sleep patterns and other behavior or physical problems.
If any of the symptoms listed above persist more than a day or so, your dog may suffer from pain that needs treatment. Call your vet to discuss what to do.
Conditions that can cause pain in animals
Many health issues can cause your pet pain, but here is a list of some of the most common.
- Ear infection
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Anal glands ruptured or infected
- Dental disease
- Bladder inflammation
- Eye problems such as corneal ulcers, uveitis or glaucoma
- Leg ligament damage
- Slipped discs
- Periodontal disease
What to do if your pet is in pain
Your veterinarian can determine whether your pet’s pain is acute or chronic pain, and create a treatment plan based on the cause. The plan for treating pain may include physical therapy, acupuncture, medication, laser therapy, nutritional changes, weight loss or other approaches.
It’s also important to pay attention to your pet’s oral hygiene and keep their weight healthy to avoid extra stress on joints and organs.
Nutritional support and supplements can be helpful for cats and dogs with pain issues. Never give your pet any medicine or supplement designed for humans, unless your veterinarian prescribes it.
Natural supplements for pet pain
For a safe, holistic approach try homeopathic remedies and herbal supplements for pet pain. These all-natural medicines have no side effects and don’t carry the risks of prescription pain medications.
Here are a few of our favorite all-natural remedies to support bones, joints and muscles in animals.
- Muscle & Joint Support-S™ is an herbal supplement in capsule form for healthy muscles and joints in cats and dogs. It supports ease of movement and liver function to promote cleansing and overall health. Contains Glucosamine and Devil’s Claw for joint and cartilage support.
- ComfyPet Pain Relief™ is a homeopathic medicine in easy-to-administer liquid dropper form. Ideal for minor aches and pains in cats and dogs. Relieves pain and soreness in muscles and joints due to injury or old age.
- Full-Strength Hemp Extract 250mg contains naturally occurring CBD (THC-free), phytocannabinoids and other beneficial compounds to support your pet’s comfort and good health. Also available in extra-strength 500mg formula.
View more bone, joint and muscle support products we love here.
How to observe Animal Pain Awareness Month this September
- Schedule an appointment with your vet. If it’s been a while since your pet’s last checkup or he’s showing any symptoms that concern you, September is a great time to see a vet.
- Spread the word to others. Sharing social media posts or articles about animal pain helps boost awareness.
- Adopt a pet. Any month is the perfect month to adopt a pet. But, if you’re thinking about adding to your furry family, getting a pet out of a shelter and into your loving home is extra special in September.
- “Animal Pain Awareness Month – September 2022.” National Today. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://nationaltoday.com/animal-pain-awareness-month/
- “Animal Pain Awareness Month Seeks to Educate Pet Owners on Pain Management. AERA. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.animalerc.com/animal-pain-awareness-month-seeks-educate-owners-pain/
- “September is National Pet Pain Awareness Month!” Total Veterinary Care. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.totalveterinarycare.com/blog/september-is-national-pet-pain-awareness-month/
- “Animal Pain Awareness Month.” International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM). Accessed August 29, 2022. https://ivapm.org/animal-pain-awareness-month/
- “Nine warning signs that could mean your dog is in pain. VetsNow. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.vets-now.com/2017/06/10-signs-dog-pain/
- Nicholas, J. “How Can I Tell If My Dog Is In Pain?” Preventive Vet. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-can-i-tell-if-my-dog-is-in-pain