Did you know that September is National Pet Pain Awareness month? Have you ever wondered how your vet knows your pet may be in pain even when you might not have noticed yourself? Pets cannot tell us they are in pain, and that can make a Veterinarian’s job difficult because pets often cannot communicate pain or where the pain is located. Pets can however, show us in their own way that they are in pain. It’s also important to remember that dogs and cats can show pain in different ways.
Common Signs of Pain in Dogs:
- Antisocial or aggressive behavior
- Change in appetite or sleeping habits
- More vocal
- Excessive grooming
- Heavy panting or altered breathing
- Mobility issues
- Signs of agitation
- Changes in posture
- Shaking or trembling
Common Signs of Pain in Cats:
- Change in posture
- Neglecting to groom, or over-grooming one spot
- Excessive vocalization
- Aggressive behavior
- Going to the bathroom outside the litter box
- Change in appetite
- Clingy behavior
As you can see, just as dogs and cats have different personalities, they show us they are in pain in many ways. Of course, after an incident, pain is usually easy to detect, but could your pet have chronic pain that you aren’t aware of? According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), “Clients will bring pets in only when there is an acute episode of pain or they see a sudden behavior change, be it reluctance to climb, jump, play, ambulate, and, sometimes, socialize.” It’s important to note any changes in your pet and be able to let your veterinarian know. We see it happen often that an owner brings their pet in for limping, but the pet seems fine when they get here. This is because that rush of adrenaline from excitement or fear of the vet may make that pain temporarily go away, or at least easier to hide.
There are many treatments of pain in pets, and it may take a few tries to get the right one. One treatment we love is the therapeutic laser. 30A Vet is the one of the only clinics in Walton County that has a therapeutic laser, and Dr. Brawner is very passionate about. The laser may or may not be the only treatment your pet needs, but it’s a wonderful, non-invasive, and effective option. The laser works at the cellular level to reduce pain and inflammation, heal damaged cells, and promote growth of new, healthy cells.
Don’t be afraid of use of pain medications if your vet recommends them. They can be a huge help in managing your pet’s pain. It’s important to understand that just like human medications, pain medication for pets work in many ways. Some are used to treat inflammation, where as some are used to help with nerve pain. One important thing to remember about these medications is that long-term use can affect your pet’s internal organs including the liver and kidneys. It is vital to do bloodwork at least every 6 months on your pet to ensure these long-term medications are not causing any further issues, especially with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS).
Just remember, your pets can’t tell you when they’re in pain, but if you notice any changes or abnormal behavior, it’s always better to be safe and come see us at 30A Vet than take the risk that your fur baby would be in pain any longer than necessary.