Is your pet in pain?Posted on 05 Jul 2012
When people are in pain they can talk to a doctor about it, but how can we tell if our pets are suffering? Blue Cross chief vet Caroline Reay reveals more…
It’s a common misconception that an animal cannot be in pain because he or she is not “crying” – and even vets have only begun to consider pain management within the last few years.
Pain is complex and frightening and we don’t like to think about it. However, modern painkillers are often effective and it’s worth looking for signs of pain in your pet.
Early treatment often works better to stop pain becoming severe or enduring.
Signs of pain in pets
Cries of pain usually only occur straight after an injury -- “ouch!”
In the longer term, signs become more subtle and the animal may simply change their behaviour to avoid pain.
The elderly cat that seems finally to learn that they aren’t allowed on the kitchen surfaces may really be avoiding twinges of arthritis.
A more noticeable response from an animal in pain may be grumpiness. They don’t want to be touched and may not want to play with another animal or with children. They may become generally less active and sleep more.
If you think your pet’s in pain
Consult your vet about the possibilities of a trial with painkillers. Never try those meant for human use.
Owners often worry about side effects of painkillers but these are generally less common in animals than in humans.
If they do occur there’s a good range of drugs available and it may be possible to select another.
Controlling pain is essential for quality of life. Unlike people, animals can’t look forward to the future.
They live entirely in the present and what they want is a pain-free “now”. Owners should try to consider the situation seriously if there are more bad days than good and not let their pet suffer unnecessarily.
Want more animal health advice? Take a look at our free pet care factsheets.