How To Tell If Your Pet Is In Pain – Pet Care Tips

sad dog in pain

Pets are wired to hide pain. It’s not like they are purposefully trying to defy you or save you from emotional burden. They are simply predisposed to act as if everything is okay – a trait reminiscent of their wild roots. This means that you will have to employ a more observant approach when looking for pain. If you’re wondering how to tell if your pet is in pain, let’s take a closer look.

Get To Know Your Pet

Because animals are experts in hiding pain, before you can begin to sense when they are having troubles, you need to get to know their normal behavior. So many conditions can go unnoticed because pet parents don’t catch the subtle shifts in how their pets interact with the world.

Let’s use joint pain as an example. If your cat or dog is experiencing joint problems, they may avoid doing things that include the use of that limb. If your dog is typically quite active and jumpy, but no longer likes to greet you in the same way, there could be an underlying painful issue behind this change of behavior. Your cat may hide in the closet and avoid contact with people altogether.

If your pet is limiting their otherwise normal physical activity – like jumping, playing fetch, climbing a scratch tower, etc. – this can be a sign that they are in pain. When you get to know the median activity level of your pet, you can be more observant of any devianacies from them thus more capable of detecting potential issues.


Potential Behavioral Changes

Let’s take a look at some of the potential behavioral changes that may arise when your pet is in pain. Having a reference of what to look for can help you narrow down potential problems before they get out of hand.

Aggressive or Anti-Social

If you know that your pet is typically quite friendly and well mannered, observing them behave more aggressively or anti-socially can be a red flag. If your kitty stops letting you pet her or if your dog stops greeting you when you arrive home, there may be cause for concern – they may be experiencing pain somewhere.


Unusual Vocalization

Often when your dog is in pain, they will communicate this through vocalization. They may whine, whimper, snarl, yelp, growl, and even howl to express how they are feeling. Cats may hiss, click, or moan when uncomfortable.

Unusual Eating or Drinking

It is quite common for a pet in pain to change their eating behaviors. They may eat less and visit the water bowl less often throughout the day. There may also be less excitement around feeding time. Difficulty eating kibble or heard treats could be a sign of dental pain or other oral health problems.

Mobility Challenges

One of the more obvious signs of pain is changes in activity level and overall mobility. Just like in people, if you notice your pet is limping or favoring a particular posture or limb there may be something going on. Arthritis, for instance, may cause symptoms like slow movements, reluctance to climb stairs, disinterest in exercise, and less active greetings.


General Agitation

If your pet is having a hard time getting comfortable, they may show signs of general agitation. They may have a harder time sleeping or finding a comfortable position. This is likely a sign of an underlying issue that requires attention.

Final Thoughts

When determining how to tell if your pet is in pain, it comes down to the art of observation. With a bit of attention to your pet’s normal behavior, symptoms of pain can be better recognized. The best thing you can do when you notice odd behavior is check in with your veterinarian to see if there is anything to be concerned about. Sometimes a sore paw just needs some time to recover, but an abdominal issue may require immediate veterinary attention. If you suspect your pet is in pain, reach out to us today here at Elko Vet, and we will gladly have a look.