Do You Know If Your Dog Is in Pain?
For many years, pain and pain management in animals were not well understood. In fact, veterinarians used to advise against pain medication, believing that it would force the animal to rest and heal more quickly.
Today, however, we know that pain causes tremendous stress in the body, slowing the healing process and taking a toll on a dog’s mental well being. Left untreated, pain can even shorten a dog’s lifespan!
Luckily, more time and resources are being devoted to studying how we can identify and alleviate discomfort in our pets. This research is leading to new medications and therapies that can significantly improve quality of life for many dogs.
Like humans, dogs experience two different types of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain comes on suddenly as a result of injury, illness or surgery. Chronic pain develops over time and lasts for weeks, months or years. Common causes of include intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), arthritis, dental disease and cancer.
Acute pain is relatively easy to diagnose and distress. But chronic pain can be more challenging. Because it typically develops so slowly, a dog may build up a tolerance to the pain and show few obvious signs of being uncomfortable. Plus, some pets are just naturally stoic. So dog parents must be extra observant and make a trip to the vet if any of the following are noticed:
Dogs with arthritis or other joint pain will often limp, although it may not be pronounced. Observe your dog on walks and note any changes in their gait or pace.
A “hunched” posture
If your dog is suddenly bent into a hunched posture, it can indicate a number of conditions from pancreatitis to disc disease. Whatever the cause, it requires an immediate trip to the vet.
Yelping or vocalizing
If your dog suddenly cries out when touched or during an activity, this is a clear sign that something is wrong. However, also be aware of other vocalizations like whining, whimpering or soft moaning.
Withdrawal or depression
Is your dog acting “down”? Has he stopped seeking attention or chosen to lie in another room away from the family? Subtle changes in behavior can often go unnoticed, but they can be some of the best clues for how your dog is feeling.
If your normally voracious dog starts turning his nose up at his food, don’t just assume he’s being finicky. Pain can have a profound affect on an animal’s appetite.
The Voyce Health Monitor can also be an invaluable tool in assessing your dog’s comfort level by monitoring vital statistics and key wellness indicators like quality of rest, activity level, respiratory rate, heart rate and more. By tracking data-driven trends over time, you can actually see changes that may indicate underlying pain or illness.
For more information about pain and pain management in your pet, visit the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management website.
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