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March 04, 2019

Pets hurt too: Signs your furry friend may be in pain

Pets Pain Management
Winter Pets Petros Giannakouris/AP

Ruby, a 9-week-old beagle puppy, plays with a snowball.

It can be difficult to spot when your pet is in pain, no matter how well we know our furry friends. 

While vocalization and whimpering are symptoms of pain - it's not always the norm. In fact, some pets may experience pain slowly over time, as with arthritis, leaving the owner to assume the pet's behavior has more to do with age than pain. 

Pets, on average, can be quite good at concealing discomfort, but there are certain behavioral changes you may notice if your pet is in pain. They may, for instance, start grooming more, and it's important to pay attention to exactly which spot they're grooming. Loss of appetite is also common. The pet may exhibit signs of decreased activity or may become more hesitant to climb stairs. 

Other behavioral changes include a change in sleep patterns or unexpected accidents around the house. They may also become more anti-social or aggressive. (Dogs in pain are also more likely to bite.) The pet may also experience panting or heavier breathing, as well as increased heart rate. 

Cats are especially good at hiding when they don’t feel their best, even more-so than dogs. Often the biggest indicator for cats is they will hide in dark places. It's important to keep an eye on your beloved feline and know their habits so you can spot when something is amiss.

If you think your pet may be in pain, it’s important to bring them to the veterinarian so they can examine your pet. For chronic pain, there are pain-reducing treatments , including nutraceuticals (food with nutritional health benefits), NSAIDS, opioids, steroids, and even holistic alternatives, such as CBD.

But one thing you should never do is give your pet medicine without discussing it with the veterinarian - especially human pain pills. Animals metabolize medicine differently and a regular dosage for humans can poison your pet.

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