September is Animal Pain Awareness Month. Animals are very good at hiding pain, and they can’t tell us what’s wrong. It’s important to be aware of the most common signs of pain so we can identify and treat any problems early. Here are some changes to look for in your pet:
- A slowdown in activities like not going up or downstairs and difficulty standing after lying down can be signs of osteoarthritis. Less play time—not playing as much as usual can signal pain in joints, neck, or back. Less jumping/a reluctance to jump onto surfaces. This especially applies to cats who, when feeling well, love to explore high places. If they are not doing this, it is likely because of hip or back pain.
- Decreased eating and drinking can signal mouth or abdominal pain or a much more serious medical issue.
- Changes in grooming behavior like increased grooming or licking of an area on the body may indicate pain in that area or referred pain. Decreased grooming, especially in cats, may indicate it is too painful to twist around.
- Changes in urine or bowel movements could be related to pain and may indicate an inability to maintain the position to eliminate. Cats also may have trouble climbing in and out of the litter box.
- Increases in respiration may be caused by pain.
- Changes in routine, different sleeping patterns and not resting in the usual places also may indicate the animal is in pain.