September is Animal Pain Awareness month. It is an essential subject because animals feel pain just like we do but can’t tell us when they hurt. We aim to educate pet parents on recognizing the signs of pain in their pets and how they can help them.
How Can I Tell if My Pet is in Pain?
Even though our pets can’t talk, there are symptoms you can look for that indicate your pet is experiencing some distress. Here are some common signs of a pet in pain:
- Decrease or loss of appetite
- Being off by themselves – not joining the family
- Lameness (limping)
- Crying or whining
- Excessive licking or scratching
Then there are more specific signs of pain depending on the type of animal. For example,
- Tight or twitching muscles
- Shaking or trembling
- Arched back
- Holding their head below their shoulders
- Vocalization, e.g., frequent unpleasant or urgent sounding meowing, groaning, hissing, growling.
- Grooming less or increased grooming but to a particular area (potentially leading to bald patches and sore skin).
- Panting is not usual for a cat. If your cat is panting, it can indicate extreme fear, pain, or difficulty breathing.
- Displaying aggression when you touch them in some regions of their body.
Rabbits are prey animals. They hide their symptoms because showing signs of weakness would make them a bigger target to predators. Because of this, it is crucial to be very observant. In addition to a loss of appetite or lethargy, here are some other symptoms to let you know something is wrong:
- Sitting hunched up, unwilling to move.
- Eyes half closed
- Loud teeth grinding (not to be confused with lighter teeth grinding when they feel pleasure)
- Abnormal posture
- Wet chin or drooling (signs of tooth pain)
We will not try to cover all animals and all symptoms here, but the above gives you an idea of indications of pet pain. What is essential is to look for any pattern of changes in your pet’s behavior. Does the behavior come after exercise? Do you notice it more in the morning or evening? Any data you can note will help us understand what is causing your pet’s pain.
Once we have assessed your pet and found the root cause of their problem, we begin treatment. Part of the treatment includes managing their pain. Of course, our pets are part of the family, so no one wants to see them suffer. But there are also physiological benefits to treating and managing pain in pets. When we do not control their pain, they can experience an increase in the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol. This increase in hormones can cause:
- Increased blood pressure
- Slower wound healing
- Increased length of hospital stays (after surgery)
- A decrease in gastrointestinal motility
When necessary, we administer pain relief medication for the pet to heal from whatever it is experiencing. A pet recovering from illness, injury, or surgery needs to be kept calm and comfortable after an injury or surgery so its body can heal quickly.
Therapeutic laser treatment is also referred to as low-level laser therapy, cold laser therapy, or Class IV laser therapy. It’s a non-invasive procedure and requires no drugs. The light from a particular type of laser is used to stimulate cell regeneration and increase blood circulation. It is comforting and pleasant for your pet and requires no sedation or restraint when used correctly.
Because this therapy speeds up the body’s natural healing process, the number of uses for it is almost unlimited. Here are some of the conditions we can use this therapy to speed recovery and reduce pain:
- Chronic arthritis
- Surgical incisions
- Tendon and ligament injuries
- Traumatic injuries
For more information, please read our blog: Therapeutic Laser Treatment.
Acupuncture can help reduce pain and inflammation. We may recommend acupuncture if your pet has arthritis, allergies, digestive issues, hip dysplasia, or certain neurological disorders. You can read more from the PetMD website: Acupuncture for Your Pets.
Our team here at Cinema Vet is very compassionate and will do everything to help your pet when they experience pain. We strive to give dogs, cats, and pocket pets outstanding veterinary medicine and surgery when needed. As a pet parent, you can help by staying observant and recognizing when your pet may be showing signs of pain.
If you observe any of the above symptoms or non-optimum changes in your pet, please contact us and schedule an appointment so we can assess the problem and get your pet on the road to feeling better and having a good quality of life.
Cinema Veterinary Centre