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How to Detect Signs of Pain in Dogs and Cats

How to Detect Signs of Pain in Dogs and Cats

Nobody wants to feel pain, and we definitely wouldn’t want our fur-kids to feel pain either. Therefore, it makes sense that we’d want to spot the signs of pain in our cats and dogs as early as possible, so that we can do something about it and minimise their pain.

You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that cats and dogs (especially cats) are really good at hiding their pain! Pain in cats and dogs can be hard to detect, especially in early stages. This article will describe what pain is, the types of pain and the signs of pain in cats and dogs. The article will also list examples of medication that vets can prescribe to manage pain.

What is Pain?

Pain refers to an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, which may or may not be accompanied by damage to the body. Pain varies in severity, and there are different types of pain.

What Types of Pain are there?

Many conditions fall into three broad categories of pain. These three categories are:

1) “Visceral” Pain (pain that originates from the internal organs)
2) “Somatic” Pain (pain that originates from skin, muscles, joints and bones)
3) “Neuropathic” Pain (pain that originates from the nerves and the spinal cord)

These types of pain can be acute or chronic. Acute pain has a quick onset, is usually sharp, and lasts for a relatively short period of time. Chronic pain often has a gradual onset and lasts for a long amount of time (sometimes for life).

Signs of Pain in Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs (especially cats!) are good at hiding pain. Some of these pets are so stoic that it’s easy to miss signs of their pain. Do note that some of these signs are very general and subtle, so they can be dismissed or misinterpreted by mean something else

Signs of pain in cats and dogs include (but are not limited to):

-Reluctance to be handled
-Growling/whining/hissing/snapping (especially when handled or if a certain area is touched)
-Decreased mobility (e.g. unwillingness to move, limping, reluctance to use stress, difficulties rising or lying down)
-Loss of appetite

In addition, cats may display signs that include (but are not limited to):

-Excessive grooming of a certain spot, or less grooming

You may be interested to learn that veterinarians use a pain score to assess pain in cats and dogs. The tool assesses different behavioural aspects of the pet, and then grades the pain severity (based on the findings). Consult your vet if you want to find out more about the pain scores

Pain can be due to a plethora of reasons (e.g. injury, infection, surgery, cancer). However, don’t be alarmed just because we mentioned the word “cancer”! A trained veterinarian is the best perosn to diagnose/rule out causes of pain in pets. If you notice any or all of the above signs of pain in your pets, or if you’re unsure consult

Pain Management in Cats and Dogs

All of this must sound very scary, so you’d naturally want to learn about how veterinarians manage pain in cats and dogs.

Treatment involves treatment/management of the underlying root cause.Rest is also an important part of pain management in cats and dogs. Furthermore, it goes without saying that medication is an important part of pain management in cats and dogs.

Medications for Pain Management in Cats and Dogs

There are various classes of pain medications. They include (but are not limited to):

-NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications) like meloxicam for cats and Dogs, carprofen, firocoxib, galliprant in various concentrations )
-Steroids (e.g. prednisolone)
-NMDA receptor antagonists (e.g. gabapentin, amantadine)

These medications can only be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Your veterinarian will select the right type of medication, depending on your pet’s medication.

We hope that this article has given you more insight on pain management in dogs and cats. If you have any further questions, please consult your veterinarian!

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