Signs speak louder than words…
How do you know if your pet is in pain? Mountain Aire Vet relies on clients to note subtle changes in your pet’s behavior that may signal pain. Changes in attitude, activity levels and ability or interest in regular activities like climbing stairs or taking walks are clues that help veterinarians diagnose pain.
“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking, “pets feel pain?” Just like humans, pain can dramatically decrease quality of a pet’s life or even increase healing time after a surgical procedure. It’s a safe bet that if it’s something that would cause you pain, it would also cause pain for your pet. The staff at MAVH makes sure the pain level of every pet is addressed and managed at each yearly exam and following all surgical procedures.
Those are obvious times a pet is in possible pain. But how do well tell when a pet is at home? That’s where you, the owner, comes in. What often makes it harder is that pets do not have the words to tell us they are in discomfort.
There are two types of pain:
Acute pain comes on suddenly as a result of an injury, surgery, inflammation or infection. It can be extremely uncomfortable for your pet and it may limit mobility. The good news is that it’s usually temporary. It generally goes away when the condition that causes it is treated.
Chronic pain is long lasting and usually slow to develop. Some of the more common sources of chronic pain are age-related disorders such as arthritis, but it can also result from illnesses such as cancer or bone disease. This pain may be the hardest to deal with, because it can go on for years, or for an animal’s entire lifetime. Also, because it develops slowly, some animals may gradually learn to tolerate the pain and live with it. This can make chronic pain difficult to detect.
So, why does it seem so hard to figure out? Cats and dogs are, in a nutshell, basically predators and intinctively hide signs of pain. In the wild, other predators seek out the easiest prey – usually a sick or injured animal. Domesticated animals still carry the instinct to avoid becoming prey no matter how much we pamper them. Pets often mask pain in the doctor’s office, too, due to anxiety or stress, so you are the best source of information about how your pets act at home. A seemingly subtle change in behavior can provide valuable information.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Does your pet strain to get up?
- Is your pet seeming less interested, distant or listless? Even depressed?
- Is your pet seeking more attention and affection than usual?
- Has your pet’s activity level seem to have dropped? Does it stop wanting to play after a few minutes?
- Is your dog suddenly not running to greet you at the door?
- Did you notice if your pet is not eating as usual?
- Is it easier for your pet to go up stairs or get up onto the sofa than it is to get back down?
- Is your pet more (or less) vocal than usual?
- Have you seen your dog limping during or after walks?
- Has your cat stopped jumping up to the sunny window to bask in the sun?
- Does it seem hard for your pet to get comfortable after laying down?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, your pet may be trying to say “I hurt.” Tell us about any and all changes you have noticed so that together we can address any problems your pet may be having. Don’t be afraid to take notes! The more information we have to work with the better we’ll be able to manage your pet’s pain.
If you have any questions, please call us at (661) 248-7387 today!