To protect themselves from predators, animals naturally hide their pain. Subtle changes in behavior may be the only clues that your pet is suffering.
Signs of discomfort include:
- Abnormal chewing, bad breath, or face rubbing
- Excessive head shaking
- Sudden weight change
- Lack of grooming
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in posture
- Lagging on walks
- Difficulty getting up
- Lethargy or restlessness
- Excessive licking, especially at joints
- Reluctance to be touched
If you notice these or other changes in your pet, have your pet assessed by your veterinarian.
There are many safe treatment options for managing your pet’s pain. Traditionally, steroids have been used to decrease pain caused by inflammation, but because of possible side effects, they generally aren’t used for prolonged periods.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used following surgery and to treat orthopedic-related pain with fewer side effects.
Nutritional supplements and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture may also help, depending on the type of pain your pet is experiencing.
Never try to treat your pet yourself. Some painkillers, including acetaminophen (found in Tylenol), or combinations of medications can be toxic to pets in very small doses. Do not give your pet any medication without consulting your veterinarian.
This article originally appeared in PetsMatter Volume 3 Issue 3, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. Copyright © 2009 AAHA. Find out more.