A while back, I had what seemed like a minor foot injury. After four months of it still hurting, I finally went to the doctor. She did x-rays and found that it was actually broken and healing nicely! I had no idea it was a break—it seemed like such a minor thing! To me, this displays how easily pain can be misunderstood.

I think about this when I see a pet that just doesn’t seem happy for some reason. One of the most common things people say to us when they bring in older pets is, “Oh, he’s just old and slowing down.” When we suggest that perhaps there is a painful condition, such as osteoarthritis, the client often replies, “Oh, he’s fine — he’s not crying.”

How do we know a person is in a state of persistent, low grade, chronic pain? They tell you. But how do we know a pet is in a state of chronic pain? They can’t talk, but they can tell us with their behavior.

These subtle indicators are often striking. A dog who resists climbing stairs, jumping on the bed, tires after a short walk, doesn’t want to get up in the morning; those are all strong indicators of potential pain. Cats are even harder to interpret. Sometimes we only get one sign; the cat’s no longer on the kitchen counter, perhaps, or maybe the cat is urinating outside of the litter box because the edges are too high to climb over comfortably.

Why is this important? Because we can help, but only if you "hear" the pets ask.

Really watch your pet and recognize possible signs of injury. Pet (or feel) your dog or cat all over and see if there are any areas where they yip, meow, hiss, or run away from your affections. If you find something you think is sucspicious, keep watching them. After a few days to a week, if the signs persist, take the pet to a veterinarian to see if there is something on the x-ray or other diagnostic tools. You wouldn’t just put up with pain—why make your pet do the same? Watching, listening, and learning your pets signals is one of the best thing you can do to say “I love you”.

 

Article by Dr. Jessica Vogelsang and retrieved from www.petmd.com on 3/20/15

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