For any pet parent, it is a nightmare to see your fur baby in pain. It is further compounded by the fact that pets cannot verbally communicate their concerns to us. As a result, pets suffer in silence until the pain begins to manifest itself in other, more apparent ways. Pain not only increases the body’s stress response, but can also interfere with healing and recovery while also causing more damage to the endocrine and metabolic functions of the body.
Physical pain can be categorized into acute and chronic pain. Acute pain lasts for a short period of time and usually abates after healing. Chronic pain on the other hand can last for a much longer duration, even for a lifetime. Pain can be caused by some kind of traumatic injury or by an underlying medical condition.
Some common signs of pain in dogs include howling, growling, whimpering, decreased appetite, social withdrawal, anxiousness, and a reluctance to move. In cats, some of the symptoms comprise reduced appetite, decreased agility, hissing or spitting, stiff gait, loss of weight, less physical activity, and a reluctance to jump.
Veterinarians use several pain grading scales to assess their furry patients for pain levels. In the case of postoperative pain, grading systems such as the Canine Acute Pain Scale, Feline Acute Pain Scale, and Acute Postsurgical Pain in Dogs and Cats are used. The Visual Analog Scale (VAS) has also found precedence in veterinary medicine in determining pain levels among animal patients.
If you suspect your pet to be in some kind of pain, you must take them to the veterinarian without fail. As established earlier, there can be several reasons behind why your pet may be experiencing pain. Depending on the cause, your veterinarian will devise treatment and palliative care plans accordingly. In the case of chronic inflammatory pain, anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs or corticosteroids may be administered. Your veterinarian will also focus on treating the specific underlying cause of the pain in your pet. Other treatment methods include analgesic medicines and weight enhancement options.
If you have any doubts, you can always consult with your veterinarian to discuss ways in which you can better support your pet throughout their recovery.