Recognizing and Treating Pain in Your Pet
If your pet's in pain, you may not even hear a peep out of him — so how do you know when he needs your help?
By Elizabeth Mason Woods for WebVet
Treating pain in your dog or cat can be difficult, because while people are "painfully'' aware when they are in pain, animals are much more stoic. Therefore, it's oftentimes difficult to know when animals are actually suffering or in pain. Most importantly, they can't open their mouths and say, "Hey mom, I'm in pain over here. Can you help me?''
Thus, pain management has become an important issue in veterinary medicine
. Organizations such as the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine Center for the Management of Animal Pain, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Companion Animal Pain Management Consortium are all committed to studying pain and pain management in animals. Studies have shown that by helping your pet
avoid pain, you may be able to speed the recovery process, whether from surgery or injury. Best of all, because it reduces stress and increases a sense of well-being, pain management may even help your beloved pet live longer.
Signs Your Pet Is in Pain
When humans feel pain, they complain. However, when it comes to our pets, we rarely hear a peep out of them. So if they can't tell us, how do we know when our pets are in pain?
Pay attention. While your pet can't talk, they oftentimes send us signals that indicate they are suffering from some type of acute or chronic pain.
How You Can Help Your Pet
- Unusually quiet, listless, restless, or unresponsive
- Whining, whimpering, howling, or constantly meowing
- Biting, either itself or those around it
- Constantly licking a particular part of the body
- Demonstrating uncharacteristic behavior (e.g. overly aggressive or submissive)
- Flattening the ears against the head
- Having trouble sleeping or eating
- Appearing excessively needy; seeking a lot more affection than usual
If you suspect your pet is in pain, contact your veterinarian immediately. He or she will perform a complete medical evaluation to help you assess the cause of the pain and potential solutions.
As with any medical condition, your veterinarian is your best ally in identifying and managing your pet's pain. Pain management requires a team effort, but the end result can be a happier and healthier companion.
Last Updated: 08/01/2009