It’s so strange. Your dog whines and cries when you take him outside to get the mail in winter but when he’s actually in pain, he doesn’t make a sound. Many pet parents are stunned to learn that their pets suffer from chronic pain. Where was the whimpering, the limping, the obvious signs of physical distress?

The truth is that pets and people behave very differently when they’re in pain. Thanks to the International Association of Veterinary Pain Management (IAVPM), it’s easy to learn the signs of pain in companion animals. With your careful attention and your vet’s expertise, you can help your pet live pain-free.

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The IAVPM recommends watching your pet for these signs of pain:

Posture. Is your pet’s posture changing all of a sudden? If he starts arching his back, drooping his head or tucking in his abdomen more than usual, he many be compensating for the pain.

Temperament. Everybody has bad days, but if your sweet dog starts acting aggressively, avoiding social interaction or even hiding from people and other dogs, suspect pain of some kind. Similarly, if you notice your cat that usually spend time with the family suddenly passing the day under the bed or in a closet; another indictaor of pain or discomfort.

Vocalization. Although much more rare than other signs, some pets will actually cry out when they’re in pain. If your cat or dog voices a complaint, don’t wait. Take your pet to the vet.

Movement. Sometimes moving as little as possible helps pets manage their pain. So if you notice your cat or dog sitting or lying down most of the day, take note.

Appetite. When chow-hounds and cats suddenly beg off at dinner-time, you know something’s wrong. Decreased or no appetite is a strong signal to get to the vet.

Grooming. Your kitty usually takes pride in her immaculate coat. But you’ve noticed she’s not as clean and well-groomed as usual. She could be restricting her movement to avoid triggering the pain.

Nobody knows your cat or dog like you do. So you’ll likely be the first one to notice when the pain’s got him down. But with your love and attention, you can help stop pain in its tracks. Ask your vet for help and, together, you’ll get your pet feeling like his old self again.

Aug 13, 2009
Pet Health

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