Signs that your pet may be in pain

No-one likes to think that their favorite furry or feathered friend may be suffering, but if they are, we want to know about it. Quick and effective professional treatment is the best way to get them back to their usual happy self, but unfortunately, our pets can’t always tell us what’s wrong, or even if there’s anything wrong at all.

It’s not just the fact that animals don’t speak our language and can’t tell us in words when they’ll ill or injured that can stop us knowing. Often they make a concerted effort to hide the fact that they’re in pain, as in the wild, this would be a sign of weakness, marking them out as easy prey for predators and rival animals. They are also more inclined than humans to become resigned to their fate and, rather than expect help, they will just hide.

Cats and dogs

Cats and dogs exhibit similar behavior when in pain. They might try to tell us through yelping and whining and may become more needy and affectionate. Alternatively, they could become withdrawn and reluctant to play, interact, or take exercise. The pain may cause them to become aggressive, growling, biting, or scratching if anyone comes near.

Body language

Body language in suffering cats and dogs can include flattened ears, low posture, and narrowed or squinting eyes, particularly in cats. Look for signs of tension or stiffness, limping or shivering. If they seem to be licking or scratching at a particular area, they could be instinctively trying to care for a wound, even if there isn’t a visible cut or internal pain.

Seeking treatment

Not all signs will be noticeable, but if you have any concerns, you should contact a specialist medical professional like an emergency vet. Adelaide Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre (AVSARC) is the first facility in South Australia to offer a comprehensive vet referral service for small animals. It shares its premises with AEC Adelaide for round-the-clock animal emergency and critical care. Don’t try to treat your animal yourself as you could easily make the problem worse if it hasn’t been professionally diagnosed.

Other animals

Birds often pluck their feathers excessively in parts where they are suffering pain, although this can also be a behavioral problem, sometimes caused by stress or anxiety. Reptiles, such as iguanas, may become lethargic and depressed, although a sharp pain can cause them to flick their tail aggressively. Rabbits often grind their teeth and may exhibit rapid or shallow breathing. They may groom less or may pull or bite at their fur. Look too for glassy, unfocused eyes, hunched posture, and a reluctance to move.

Loss of appetite

Not eating is a good sign that something is wrong in most animals. They may also drink less, but equally, excessive thirst can be a sign of dehydration or kidney problems. Any unusual behavior should be noted, as well as when this behavior occurs. Is it more pronounced after exercise, in the morning, or later at night?

Even though animals can’t speak and are reluctant to make a fuss, there are ways to tell when they’re in pain. Often this can be rectified easily, but the sooner it is treated, the better the chances are for a full recovery.