Managing Pain in Pets

Suffering in silence is something we all know too well when it comes to our pets and their pain management. One of the most common issues vets and vet nurses face in clinic, is fur-parents having trouble identifying when their senior pet is in pain. This is understandable; it can be difficult for trained professionals to assess an animal’s pain as well. Especially because in the clinic, vets will see an animal in pain however their owner will report that they have not noticed any change in their pet. Most people relate pain and sickness with lack of hunger or thirst.

Over the course of evolution, animals like birds that are usually prey, would need to push through the pain otherwise they would be at a disadvantage to their predator. As a result, our pets are experts at hiding their pain. Below is a list of changes to behaviour you can look for that may be due to pain:

In dogs:

  • Anxious or submissive behaviour
  • Whimpering and howling
  • Aggressive behaviour such as growling or biting
  • Refusal to move or guarding behavior
  • Being withdrawn or aloof
  • Loss of appetite

In cats:

  • Changes in defecation and urinary habits
  • Quiet or lack of agility
  • Excessive grooming seen through licking
  • Guarding behaviour
  • Being withdrawn or aloof
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Most of the time, we will see our furry companions dramatically change their behaviour to ease their pain. Usually, cats will sleep more and resist jumping, and dogs will be hesitant to go on a walk due to intense joint pain. As fur-parents, it is best to stay observant and always look out for any changes in your pet. Keep in mind that it is most likely not just an issue of old age, and that they are in pain. This could be a sign of a serious health issue. To help combat joint pain that can be caused by osteoarthritis, your vet may recommend an anti-inflammatory pain relief such as Metacam. Through this prescription, your pet can experience relief from any pain that is caused by their inflamed, swollen and painful joints. Commonly, the joints that are affected are hips, knees, spine, shoulders and elbows.

Our pets usually deal with the pain quietly.  If you suspect your furry companion is experiencing any pain then you should tell the vet, and with a little help, they can get back to enjoying their day… especially walk-time!