How to Tell When Your Pet is in Pain

Avian, By Species, By Topic, Care & Wellness, Cats, Dogs, Exotic

Some of the biggest challenges veterinarians face is assessing the level of pain in their animal patients. With the exception of a few very smart birds, most animals can’t directly communicate what they are experiencing. Our pets are animals that were once subject to the food chain, they are consequently driven by instincts that tell them that signs of pain should be hidden or else a predator will find them and eat them because of their apparent weakness. This instinct will make it very difficult for us to detect pain in our pets.

So, veterinarians must do detective work. And some of the best clues come from pet owners who see their animal’s behavior on a daily basis.

The first indication that a pet is in pain is a change in its behavior. A pained animal will eat less, and often won’t move around as much. Owners may also notice their animal breathing heavier or faster. Often an increase in respiration is the only thing that an owner will notice when their animal is in severe pain. Other signs include changes in vocalizations, restlessness, and reluctance to participate in normal activities.

Aside from these obvious behavioral changes, animals also have several more subtle ways of showing their discomfort. Veterinarians are trained to recognize changes in the animals’ appearance such as periorbital (related to the eye) tenseness and abdominal (belly) tenseness that may be very difficult for an owner to recognize at home.

While pain can be difficult to see in animals it is still important to address and treat it appropriately. We must strive to decrease stress as much as possible in our pets at home. If you see or suspect that your animal is in pain at home, it is imperative that you inform a veterinarian immediately so that we can take steps to limit or prevent your pet’s suffering. If you can see a little bit of discomfort it may represent the tip of the iceberg that is a larger amount of pain lingering beneath.

If you think your pet may be in pain, call CEDARCREST Animal Clinic at 540-943-7577 to make an appointment.

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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