Dogs and cats have mastered the art of hiding their pain. It may be so that other, larger animals don’t know they’re weak, or it could be that they just don’t like to complain as much as we humans do. Whatever the reason, you have to be on the lookout for the subtle signs that they are uncomfortable and may be suffering if you are to catch problems early so they can be treated. Many conditions that are detected early in humans are found because of an ache or feeling of discomfort. Unfortunately our pets usually don’t show outward signs until the pain is unbearable.
There are ways to tell that an animal is hurting, if you are alert to their behaviors. For cats, urinating or defecating outside their litter box is the most common sign of pain. It can indicate that the feline’s urinary tract, bladder, kidneys, or even their legs may be hurting. If you find your cat displaying inappropriate bathroom behavior, don’t get upset and chastise her. As long as the litter is fairly clean (another common reason for this behavior is a dirty litter pan), the likely cause is medical. Have your veterinarian check her for problems.
Limping or a stiff gait, especially in older dogs, can be a sign of arthritis, foot problems, cancer, or other bone and joint problems. If you think, “Oh, he’s just getting older”, you may be ignoring a more serious issue. Regular checkups are most important as your buddy gets older so that his doctor can figure out why he’s slowing down. There are often medications that can ease his pain during his daily routine.
If your pet changes the way she does something, or takes a different way around than she used to, watch her carefully. Those steps may be harder for her to manage or she may not be able to squeeze around the furniture because she’s stiff. Being less playful as your pet ages is common, but he should still be somewhat active. Lethargy and disinterest in favorite activities can have underlying causes that may be resolved by your veterinarian.
Whether it’s because they don’t want to worry us with their problems or it’s a survival technique, our four-legged friends hide their symptoms of aching and soreness from us. If we are going to do right by them as their owners, we need to take note of changes and signs of pain they may be trying to hide. Keeping them healthy and comfortable should be our goal, so we have to watch for subtle indications that they need our help.