The thought of your pet in pain is probably very difficult to contemplate. We don’t want our pets to ever feel anything painful, but it does happen. Pets naturally tend to be quite skilled at hiding their pain, so it’s going to be up to you to spot that pain, and then step in to get some help for them if they need it. If you need some help in spotting that pain, here are 6 signs. The more that you notice, the stronger the chance that they are in pain. You may notice some of them are more obvious than others. Much of it depends on your pet’s personality.

Top signs that your pet is in pain

Here are some of the top signs that a pet is feeling pain. It could be something mild like a stomach ache or a harmless spider bite. Or, it could be something serious like bloat or a case of poisoning. Regardless, pain should be treated quickly for your pet’s best quality of life! But first, let’s take a look at the signs:

1 They are restless

When pets are in pain, you’ll notice them unable to simply settle down. They’ll wander the room or even the entire house and often vocalize a bit. When they do settle, they may pant excessively and shift positions as they try to reduce the pain.

You may also notice some sign that restlessness or irritation is relating to a specific body part. For example, a foot or an ear, etc. If there is an internal cause, that can be hard to figure out, of course, and those do tend to be a lot more serious because it takes a vet’s assessment to sort out what’s happening.

2 They won’t eat or drink

When pets are in pain, food and drink may be the last things they want. For a pet who is usually food-motivated, this is often one of the most significant signs that you can observe. While it’s normal to want our dogs to eat or drink, try not to pressure them. You can offer a nice bland treat (such as boiled rice) to entice them, but don’t force them if they just really don’t want to eat.

3 They are suddenly clingy 

When pets are in pain, they’ll often seek comfort from you, their favorite human. They may snuggle up or perhaps try to sneak up on the couch (if they aren’t allowed to) for comfort. They might be more lethargic, or it might be that they just want to curl right up next to you. It depends mostly on the pet and their normal cuddle habits.

4 They are suddenly distant

In contrast, some pets will simply try to avoid all contact with humans when they are in pain. They’ll seek out a place to go where no one will find them as they try to hide away and recuperate. This can be distressing to us, but it is normal and instinctive for animals. When they are injured or in pain, they hide from predators until they feel strong again.

5 They are aggressive without warning

If your pet is suddenly aggressive without any kind of warning, this can be another sign that they are struggling with pain. They may not want to be touched anywhere, or they may be focused on just one area. Whatever it is, respect your dog’s warning signs of aggression. Many animals will bite out of fear, and then feel distressed if they end up hurting you.

6 They are vocalizing a lot

While all pets vocalize a bit, you may notice your pet to be more chatty than usual. If they are suddenly “talking” a lot, then it’s up to you to notice and determine what it means. They may be directing it at you trying to let you know something’s wrong, or they might instead be focused on simply complaining as they wander around the house. If there is no other obvious reason, pain might be the most likely culprit.

What to do if your pet is in pain

When you realize that your pet is in pain, it’s normal to want to simply step in and take charge of it. If you’re hunting for a way to get involved as much as you can, here are three things that you can do immediately. These are: 

  • Stay calm
  • Offer your pet comfort however you can
  • Assess the situation 

When it comes to that last point, assessing the situation, it is helpful to know the following three focal points!

Look for an obvious injury

Your pet may be suffering from an obvious injury or problem. If you can spot what it is, take a few photos for reference, assess the problem as best you can, and then try to determine if your pet is reacting to that problem or not. Don’t forget to check their mouth (dental issues are common), paw pads, and tails. While doing this, be extra careful and aware for warning signs of your pet biting you due to fear and/or pain!

Call your vet

Whether or not you find the problem, call your vet and book an appointment to see what’s going on with your pet. Be as detailed as you can with what you do know, be prepared to send any photos you have that show the problem, as that will help guide them when you get into the clinic.

Follow vet advice carefully 

Whatever advice your veterinary doctor gives you, follow it to the best of your ability. It might be to let your pet eat and encourage them to eat or drink. It might be to administer a round of antibiotics for an ear infection. It might just be to keep them moving as normal while they stretch out a tired muscle. It is important to follow through carefully and thoroughly with recommended treatment for the best chance of recovery. Your vet is a professional, so you can rely on their advice to be professional and helpful for your pet. If you give the recommended treatment a try and stick to it, but don’t see improvement, then you can always ask for a second opinion, from the same vet or from another.

When your pet is in pain, it’s normal to feel as though your entire world is off kilter. To better protect your pet, you can assess your pet’s situation by watching for these signs. Then taking action to relieve the cause of your pet’s pain will help you get your furry friend back to normal as quickly and as comfortably as possible.

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