Are You Missing These Signs That Your Pet Is In Pain?

Recognizing signs of pain in pets

It can be very easy to miss the signs that your pet is in pain or sick. Dogs and cats have a tendency to hide their pain, making it difficult to properly care for them when they need it the most. But if you know the signs to look for, you can recognize symptoms of pain early and get your pet the help they need.

Why Do Pets Hide Pain?

The tendency for dogs and cats to disguise their discomfort is believed to be an evolutionary trait that carried over from their wild ancestors. Wild animals who show weakness are more likely to be targeted by predators as well as more likely to be abandoned by their pack. Although today’s domestic pets who are well cared for by their humans do not have these worries, their instincts to hide their pain are still ingrained.

Why Is It Important To Recognize Pain?

Recognizing pain in your pet early will enable you to seek veterinary help before many diseases become difficult to treat. Whether the pain is due to an injury, arthritis, infection, or a systemic illness, diagnosing the problem as early as possible gives your pet the best chance for a better outcome.

What Are Signs of Pain in Dogs and Cats? Signs of pain

Dogs and cats will often have subtle behavioral changes that indicate pain.


Signs of Pain in Dogs:

-Vocalizing including yelping, whining, and groaning
-Decreased appetite or changes in thirst
-Withdrawals from social interaction or hiding
-Sleeping more or decreased activity
-Having accidents in the house or urinating more frequently
-Excessive licking, grooming, or chewing
-Restlessness or unable to get comfortable
-Difficulty getting up
-Trembling in one or more legs
-Seeking more affection than normal
-Excessive panting
-Limping or not using one or more limbs
-Reluctance to being touched or picked up
-Growling or unusual aggression
-A “hunched” back appearance
-Weight loss

Signs of Pain in Cats:Signs of pain

-Vocalizing including hissing or growling
-Decreased appetite or changes in thirst
-Withdrawals from social interaction or hiding more
-Sleeping more or decreased activity
-Not using the litter box properly or vocalizing when using the litter box
-Excessive grooming or a lack or proper grooming
-Sleeping more
-Seeking more affection than normal
-Limping or not using one or more limbs
-Reluctant to being touched or picked up
-Not jumping as high onto objects
-Unusual aggression
-Weight loss

What to Do if Your Pet is in Pain

It is important to have your pet examined by a veterinarian to determine what is causing pain. Determining the underlying cause is important so that the primary problem can be addressed. Depending on the illness, there are many veterinary approved pain medications to control discomfort in pets. It is important to work with a veterinarian to create a specific pain management strategy that is customized to your pet’s specific needs. There are medications and supplements designed to minimize arthritis pain, which is very common in geriatric pets.

Important Do Nots:

  • Never self medicate your pet without speaking with a veterinarian! Human over-the-counter pain medications can be very deadly to pets! Animals and people metabolize medications differently and so many medications that are safe for people can be extremely toxic to pets. Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and other human medications cause severe liver and kidney damage, gastrointestinal ulcerations, and death to dogs and cats.
  • Never change your pet’s medication dose without speaking with a veterinarian.


At Spring Branch Veterinary Hospital we believe in a very proactive approach to pain management in pets. Pets are family and they deserve to be kept comfortable when they are experiencing an illness, injury, or arthritis pain. There are joint medications and supplements, as well as anti-inflammatory pain medications, that are specifically designed to reduce arthritis pain. We use a multi-modular approach to our surgical protocols that is designed to significantly reduce post-operative pain in pets. Pets who no not experience pain will also heal faster. Pain management is also an imperative aspect of illness and disease treatment as well as geriatric and hospice care for pets. Our pets give us unconditional love and it is our mission to help them live a healthier and happier life. Call us today if you would like to discuss how we can help your furry family member! 830-438-7800

Signs of pain