September is dedicated to Animal Pain Awareness Month, but pet lovers know that we need to be diligent about checking for pain in our beloved fur babies every day, every week, and every month.
By making it a habit to regularly check on your pet’s health, you can become aware of any acute or chronic pain, learn how to relieve it, and improve the quality and hopefully quantity of your pet’s life!
2023 marks the 8th annual Animal Pain Awareness Month. It was started by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, an organization that was established in 2001 (source).
Tips for Evaluating Your Pet’s Pain and Well-Being
While animals don’t have a vocabulary that we can understand, they do have behaviors that may alert you to being in discomfort. If your animal has any of the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to take them to a reputable vet that can diagnose a problem before it becomes too serious or life-threatening.
*Changes in mood or behavior. As your pet’s parent, you know your pet. If your pet is acting out of the ordinary, keeping to himself, sleeping more than usual, or not behaving as he normally does, this may be an indication your pet is in pain.
Cats can often alert their owners to pain by peeing out of their litter box, marking, or peeing in sight of their owners. Active dogs may refuse or be hesitant to go for a walk.
*Changes in diet. Pets often stop eating or decrease their diet if they are in pain. Owners of single pets will have no problem noticing a change in diet. A home with multiple pets may require special attention to make sure that all pets are eating normally.
*An increase or decrease in water intake. Dogs often change their water intake if they are experiencing pain or discomfort. Pay particular attention to the water consumption and always provide fresh water.
*Audible cries. Animals in distress and pain may whimper, cry, or scream. Depending on the source of the pain and severity, your pet may try to mask its symptoms. Some animals such as rabbits are very good at masking their pain so they are not easy prey. Be diligent in checking on your pet should it cry out in distress. A pet in severe distress should always be taken to the vet.
*Unusual licking or biting. Sometimes a pet in discomfort licks or bites itself if it has an infection, allergy, or other symptom. If your pet is showing any sign of licking or biting other than a normal itch, it’s advisable to check the spots and take your pet to the vet.
How to Handle a Pet in Distress or Pain
If you believe that your pet is in distress or in pain, it’s in the pet’s best interest for you and your pet to take it to the vet. Your vet can check on the source of your pet’s pain and prescribe sources of treatment.
Be careful when handling a hurt pet, as it can unintentionally bite or snap at you due to the pain. Even the most loving animal reacts to pain.
Try to remain calm as a pet can pick up your moods and sense trouble. Once you figure out the source of the pain, you can begin to start the healing process.