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Masters of Disguise: Our pet’s pain symptoms and management

We love our pets and want them to keep them happy and healthy! Although we are with them daily, it can be hard to tell when our pets are in pain. Cats are especially good a disguising their pain. Pain can be caused by many factors such as arthritis, urinary issues, dental problems, and following a surgical procedure. Each pet will display pain differently but it is important for us, as pet owners, to know our pet’s habits and identify when changes occur. The sooner the pet’s suffering is addressed, the quicker the issue can be treated and resolved.


Some symptoms may be displayed in the following ways:



Vocalizing:               meowing, hissing, growling, even purring

Expression:             vacant stare, enlarged pupils, flattened ears

Posture:                    arches back, lays with feet underneath, protecting limb, limping

Behavior:                  acting out of character: aggression with a typically friendly cat

Activity:                    hiding, decreased appetite, failure to use litterbox, won’t




Vocalizing:               whining, howling, yelping, groaning

Expression:              glazed eyes, panting at rest, vacant stare

Posture:                     hunched, laying on side, hiding,  protecting limb, limping

Behavior:                  acting out of character, restless, reluctant to move

Activity:                     decreased appetite, change in sleeping habits, less active



Vocalizing:               whinnying, grunting, groaning

Expression:              glazed eyes, flattened ears, wrinkled nose

Posture:                     low head, kicking at belly, “parked out”

Behavior:                  restless, reluctant to move, swishing tail

Activity:                     decreased appetite, less active, lameness



If you notice symptoms of pain, consult your veterinarian.  We use a pain scale to determine each pet’s pain level. The scale is rated 0-4 based on behavior, response to palpation, and body tension. Based on the pet’s pain level, the doctor may make recommendations for a course of action.  Treatment can vary from a prescription medication, acupuncture, or oral and injectable supplements. Different types of pain require different treatments, sometimes multiple treatments in coordination. Never administer medication or change the dosage of a current prescription unless directed by your veterinarian.




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