September is Animal Pain Awareness Month. All month long, pet owners are encouraged to educate themselves so that they can better recognize the signs of animal pain. Vet clinics and other animal-related organizations participate by raising awareness for pet pain management.
The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) chose September for Animal Pain Awareness Month because it also happens to be the month that human medicine recognizes Pain Awareness Month. It’s a smart choice. After all, animals feel pain just as humans do.
Without the ability to communicate how they’re feeling through words, diagnosing pet pain can be tricky. A cut, scrapes, or bumps are easily recognized as sources of pain. However, not all types of pet pain are easy to spot. It’s not just “getting old.” It could be chronic pain. That’s why pet parents need to keep their eyes open and ears ready to listen to any changes in their pets’ routine or daily behaviour. In order to be your pet’s best advocate, you need to also be a keen observer.
Could your pet be in pain? Here are some of the most common signs of pain in pets that you should be on the lookout for:
- Your once sociable pet now frequently retreats to his hiding place.
- Your usually independent pet seems to be seeking a lot more attention lately.
- Your habitual hygiene conscious pet now has frequent bathroom accidents inside the house.
- Your pet’s ravenous appetite has disappeared.
- Your pet’s friendly greetings have been replaced with hissing, growling, and other signs of aggression.
- Your spunky, rambunctious playmate has lost interest in his favourite game and may even refuse to move.
- Your pet with once perfect posture may now be moving with hesitation (e.g. limping) as if they’re trying to avoid being touched. They may also have difficulty lying down or standing up.
- Your feline’s pristine coat may be replaced with matted hair due to a loss of interest in grooming.
- Your pooch has developed a bad habit of excessively licking himself or herself in the same spot.
- Your pet that was once king or queen of the house now avoids using the stairs altogether.
Do any of the scenarios above remind you of your dog or cat? If you notice a sudden change in your pet’s behaviour, then it’s time to visit your local veterinarian for a check-up. After locating the source of the pain, your vet will prescribe the appropriate treatment. Or, the vet may determine that your pet’s strange behaviour is not tied to pain at all and could be the result of something else entirely. Be honest about the changes you’ve observed in your pet and you’ll give the vet all the information they need to make the best recommendation for your four-legged companion.
Wondering how you can help spread the word about Animal Pain Awareness Month? Share the resources you’ve read (like this one) with your fellow pet lovers on social media. You never know who you might help or the impact you’ll have with just a simple click of the share button!