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Animal Pain Awareness Month - What is your pet telling you?

Updated: Sep 3, 2021


How do I know my dog is in Pain, what are the signs, and how can we manage it?


The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management IVAPM has announced September as Animal Pain Awareness Month to coincides with human medicine’s Pain Awareness Month, as a way of highlighting how animals suffer from pain like us folks do.


Humans tend to ignore feelings of pain until they worsen or become unmanageable, and sometimes this method of dealing with pain can be placed onto our pets. But how do we know when our pets are in pain and how unbearable it is? Unfortunately, our furred friends are unable to explain their pain level or how it’s affecting their daily lives, and to add to this communication barrier our pet's natural instinct is to try to hide their pain. Therefore, pet parents ought to treat the slightest signs of pain in their pets seriously.


"Acute pain is obvious and distressing.

Chronic pain can be subtle, and masked as “getting old” or “slowing down.”

Old age is not a disease, but pain is."




What are the common signs of pain in my Dog or Pet?


How will I know my dog is in Pain? One of the hardest things about pain in dogs or animals is that it is often difficult to spot, Dogs as well as cats, tend to mask their pain because of evolutionary instincts and self-preservation step in. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult to see when they aren't feeling well.


Often our dogs suffer in silence. Because dogs can’t speak, it can sometimes be difficult to identify when they’re in pain, whether it's as a result of injury or an underlying issue. However, there are variety of signs, some more obvious than others, which may indicate pain in dogs.




  • Decreased play and activity.

  • Not going up or downstairs.

  • Reluctance to leap (especially for cats).

  • Difficulty standing after lying down.

  • Decreased appetite (mouth pain).

  • Over-grooming or licking a selected area of the body.







Accute or chronic pain not only causes discomfort in pets but it conjointly causes distress. Pets who live in pain can become more agitated and stressed, removing themselves from family and daily activities they would normally love to do. It also can cause alternative issues for his or her health together with dehydration, weight loss, and inflammatory stress responses.


What are the standard signs of pain in dogs?


General behavior: Shaking, flattened ears, low posture, aggression, grumpy temperament, panting or crying, excessive licking or scratching a selected area, reluctant to play, interact or exercise, lameness (limping), stiffness after rest, loss of appetite.


On touch or inspection: Licking lips, flinching, turning head, moving to avoid touch, crying or vocally reacting, panting, increase in respiratory or pulse , warmth of area, redness of area, swelling of area.


Signs of Pain in your Dog you might also notice:


Changes in Behaviour. Any change can mean something is wrong. If your dog is less energetic or less cheerful than usual, doesn’t engage within the activities he usually enjoys, acts restless, becomes unusually clingy, or stops socializing as much or as happily as he accustomed, he could also be experiencing discomfort.


Good and Bad Days, As we all have good and bad days, if your dog acts like his normal self some days but grummpy, aggressive or otherwise different on other days, pain may be the causse.


Unusual behavior after strenuous activity. Dogs who exhibit unexpected behavior after they have had had more exercise than usual could also be in pain. An injury or any kind of soreness may deteriorate with additional exercise, so if your dog is predictably out of sorts on such days, pain could also be the culprit.


Not wanting to play or be near other dogs. Sometimes when dogs are in pain, they don’t want other dogs near them, especially if those dogs are young, bouncy or exuberant. If it's inconsistent with a dog’s personality to keep faraway from other dogs, doing so might mean he’s protecting an alreadytender area.




How to manage your dog's Pain


Whether it’s associated with an acute injury or a more chronic one, there are several approaches to pain management in dogs. Where possible, the direct reason for the pain are addressed; however, if this is not an option, the pain management approach taken will depend upon the following:


  • The type of pain

  • How long it's been present (chronicity)

  • Any other health issues your dog may have


Lots of simple changes can help ease discomfort during a long-standing painful condition, like pacing levels of activity, or making minor changes to the house environment.


There are several choices to treat the cause of pain in our pets, and as there are several main categories that pain can fall into there are also different paths to take. Each treatment is different for every pet dependent on their reaction, other health concerns, daily life activities and what outcome we need. A combination of strategies can also be needed in order to manage pain effectively.


Forms of treatment can include:



- Old age isn't an illness however, pain is -


Paying attention to the signs of pain will mean the difference between a lifetime of suffering and a lifetime of comfort and health for your best friend. Share this info with fellow pet parents and facilitate them to become more watchful regarding pet pain awareness.


To find out more about pain management click here for the IVAPM website packed with all the information you should need. If you want to find out more about hydrotherapy, laser therapy or physiotherapy feel free to get in touch by email, or click here for our website with more information.




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