How do you know when your pet is in pain? This is a question that many owners ask themselves and professionals. Since they aren’t able to tell us verbally, our pets are reliant on us picking up signs and behaviors that suggest that they are hurting and need our help. And as well as the obvious verbal communication barrier between us and our animals, it’s also important to be aware that pets naturally mask their pain. Hiding pain is an instinctive behavior that developed in animals a long time ago and evolved as a way to protect themselves from predators during times of injury or sickness. And although animals have been domesticated for centuries, this instinct remains ingrained in our pets even today.
As conscientious and responsible pet owners, we obviously want to make sure that we provide our animals with the best care possible. To do this, we need to be aware of the signs that indicate that our animal might be in pain. Here are 5 important signs that your pet might be hurting.
If your pet is usually fairly happy and enjoys being around people, any sudden withdrawal is something to be concerned about. You may notice that they no longer run to greet you when you return home, or that they don’t want to play. They may even hide from you and other family members, or growl or snap-in a warning if you come near them. Any unusual behaviors can indicate that your pet is in pain or unwell.
Another classic indicator of a problem in pets is a distinct change to their usual habits. Domesticated animals are creatures of routine, and if you think about it, you probably know when your pet sleeps, eats, and is more active. You also likely know how much they eat and drink and how often they poop. Any changes to their usual habits, such as loss of appetite or sleeping more than normal, can suggest that something is up with your pet. It may not necessarily be that they are in pain, but it’s worth consulting with your vet to get to the bottom of the issue.
Animals that are experiencing pain may become more vocal, especially if the discomfort is so severe that they can’t ignore it. Some of the ways in which your pet might tell you that they are in pain can include howling, yelping, barking, growling, and even snarling. Take heed and arrange to speak to your vet.
Grooming is one of the ways in which animals soothe themselves, and while some grooming each day is to be expected, excessive or persistent grooming, especially if it is focused on a specific area, can be a sign that something is hurting and your pet is trying to alleviate their discomfort.
If your pet is hurting, changes in their body position/posture may give you a clue. Animals that are in pain can become rigid through fear of causing themselves further discomfort. They may also hunch over, or in some cases lay with their front legs out and on the ground and their bottom in the air. This position, sometimes called the prayer position, enables animals to stretch out their abdomen, which may provide some relief if it is this area causing them to hurt.
If you are concerned that your pet might be in pain, don’t hesitate to speak to our dedicated and knowledgeable veterinary team.