pet in pain

Our pets are notoriously good at hiding their discomfort, and there’s a logical, evolutionary reason for this: in the wild, it was critical for these animals to hide their weaknesses from predators. Even though cats and dogs have been enjoying the creature comforts of human homes for millennia, this life-and-death adaptation remains part of their instinctive behavior, and it makes it challenging for people to know when their pets are in pain.

Routine wellness examinations help us spot underlying health conditions and external abnormalities that could cause pain, but between visits, it’s important to be mindful of changes in your pet’s behavior and other warning signs your dog or cat is crying for help.

At Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital, we are committed to keeping pets comfortable with safe, effective pain management, and we’ve compiled some common symptoms of pain in pets.

Signs to Watch for

If your pet has a scheduled surgical procedure or suffers an injury, it’s clear that pain relief protocols are necessary. But how do you tell if a dog is in pain from arthritis or hip dysplasia, for example? Or that your cat is experiencing pain from dental disease?

Most signs related to pain can be very subtle at first. You know your pet better than anyone, so don’t hesitate to contact us if something seems “off.” 

Common symptoms of pain in pets include:

  • Trembling in the legs, especially when standing
  • Pacing, restlessness, can’t find a comfortable sleeping position
  • Unusual aggression, such as growling or hissing
  • Matted fur, lack of grooming
  • Persistent head shaking (could indicate painful ear infection)
  • Waning interest in playing, going for walks, or other activities they used to enjoy
  • Decreased social interaction
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Unusual posture
  • Rapid breathing
  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to climb stairs or jump up onto furniture or other surfaces 
  • Vocalizing

Early Treatment is Key

No pet should have to be in pain, so the earlier you schedule a visit with your pet’s veterinarian, the better. The first step in returning your pet to optimal comfort is to get a proper diagnosis. Once we understand the cause of your pet’s pain, we can create an effective pain management program that might include nutritional supplements, prescription pain relief, environmental adaptations, and physical exercises or activities.  

When pets are pain-free, they live happier, healthier, and more active lives. If you spot any unusual behavior in your pet or you have reason to believe your cat or dog is in pain, please contact us at (732) 531-1212.