Have you ever experienced a situation where your pet was acting strange, and after investigation, you find out they have an injury or illness? And they showed you no signs of any pain? I experienced this recently. I woke up one morning to discover my cat was acting very “needy,” more than usual. She was super affectionate and rubbing up against me, head butting, and getting in my face about needing attention. She usually is a sweet cat, but not generally very open with giving affection.  I didn’t think much of it and went on with my day, only to discover a few hours later that she had started vomiting a lot of blood.

I rushed her to the vet and discovered she was having some significant problems with her liver. The realization that she had not felt well for a little while sickened me and made me think about how she had been acting lately. Was there anything different other than that morning? I really couldn’t recall.  It made me think about how animals have an instinct of hiding how bad they can feel.  

 Pets are such great companions to us; the least we can do is make sure they are happy and healthy. In nature, if animals show any signs of discomfort or illness, they could become “dinner” as they are an easy target. Because this behavior is also widespread in domesticated pets, the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management dedicated the month of September to animal pain awareness.  As pet owners, we can learn to recognize subtle signs or symptoms if our pets are not feeling well.  Let’s talk about some common symptoms indicating that your pet may be experiencing pain or an illness, and how we can help them! 

6 Common Signs That Your Pet May Be In Pain

Changes in activity level: Changes in a pet’s activity and sleeping levels could signify something else could be going on. It is essential to know what “normal” activity and sleeping levels mean for your pet.  You know your pet best, and what is “normal” for one pet can be different for another pet. Pay attention if your pet starts to show any changes in their activity levels.

Reluctance to jump up/down on things: Just like us, pets can experience pain as they are growing, or even as they are getting older. Watch for any of these changes in behavior:

Changes in gait when walking or standing: Changes in a pet’s gait, when walking or even just standing, could signal arthritis, illness, or a sudden injury.  Watch for any of these behaviors:

Excessive Grooming: Is your pet excessively grooming or licking a specific area on their body? This behavior could mean anything from skin infections, allergies, changes in mental health, or localized pain in that area. Watch for any of these behaviors:

Changes In Appetite: Sudden changes in appetite could be a variety of things going on, anything from upset tummies, eating things they shouldn’t, to even dental problems.  If your pet experiences any of these behaviors, its best to get them to the veterinarian.

Changes In Temperament: It’s one thing to wake up cranky, but for pets, being grumpy doesn’t usually last too long. If your pet experiences a change in their personality, its time to figure out why they are acting differently. 

What You Can Do To Help Your Pet

Vet Visit: Taking your pet to the veterinarian is never fun. However, before you can start to help your pet get through their issue, you must figure out what truly is going on with them. There is a wealth of information available on the internet to look up. However, too much information is not always a good thing as doing something recommended on the internet can cause a health situation, or make an existing health situation worse. Have your veterinarian examine your pet before trying any remedies to make sure there is not something serious going on. You may find out that your pet had a minor injury, and a little rest will get them back up and running in no time! 

Medication, Natural Therapy, or Supplements: After your veterinarian has looked at your pet, you then can discuss any treatments for your pet’s situation. Now that you have a proper diagnosis of what may be going on, you can do some research to see what options are available. There are plenty of pain medications, natural remedies, supplements, and therapy options out there for any budget.  It is essential to not give your pet any over the counter human pain medications without FIRST consulting with your veterinarian. There are many pain medications for people that are toxic to pets. 

Make Things Comfortable At Home: If your pet is experiencing any pain or other ongoing issues, there are things you can do at home to help them out.

Whether it is just old age or a real medical issue, knowing how to help your pet will make a world of difference in their life. By knowing what is considered “normal” behaviors for your pet, you will recognize when something might be wrong.  And thankfully, with the advancement in knowledge and treatments nowadays, help is just a phone call away.

For more information on recognizing pet pain, check out the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.

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