As responsible pet owners, we want to be aware of the signs of pain in our pets. Do you know the signs of pain? Pain management is getting to be a big deal in Veterinary Medicine.
Signs of Pain
Pain management is getting to be a big deal in Veterinary Medicine. In fact, it’s become a very big deal in the last decade of so. There is an International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and the American Animal Hospital Association along with the American Association of Feline Practitioners has developed a comprehensive set of pain management guidelines for Veterinarians to follow.
These are great developments for dogs and cats. In the past pain in animals was viewed quite differently. Historically there was even a debate about whether animals felt pain. More recent myths about pain include the notion dogs and cats are more tolerant or stoic about pain. That one probably has it’s roots in evolution. It is true that some animals hide their pain quite well. In the wild it would be very useful to be able to hide pain and vulnerability from potential predators.
The truth of the matter is that animals feel pain exactly the same way we feel pain, and failure to address the consequences of pain in animals has the same dire consequences it has for us.
The first step in managing pain is being able to recognize the often subtle signs of pain animals display. This is where having a good and attentive human pays off for a dog or a cat. You, the pet lover, are often the first to notice something is up and slight changes in normal behavior are often the first clue.
Arthritis is the most common cause of detectable pain in dogs and cats. If you have steps in your house you may notice that your dog is reluctant to use them. My wife has her studio upstairs and one of the first signs of painful arthritis in our dear departed Darcie, was that she didn’t “go to work” with Chris anymore. She had cervical neck pain and going down stairs was even more painful than going up.
Decreased activity, like cutting a walk short, not jumping up on the bed or furniture, or the kitchen counter in the case of the cat is another tell tale sign of pain. Decreased appetite for dogs and cats and decreased time spent grooming for cats are other common symptoms.
The appearance of abnormal behavior is another indicator of pain. Changes in potty behavior, like going in the house can be due to pain. Aggression to people and other pets or the opposite, reluctance to play or interact at all can be linked to pain. Hiding is a common behavior change in a cat that is ill or experiencing pain and restlessness and anxious behavior can be pain induced too.
Even changes in body posture, especially when you groom or pamper your pet, may be due to pain. Does you cat flinch when you stroke her back? Does your dog’s body tense up when you try to pick him up?
There are many different ways to deal with pain and Veterinarians have a wide variety of options to help. There are drugs available of course and many of them are the same ones used in people.