Promoted hand-in-paw with the human Pain Awareness Month, Animal Pain Awareness Month educates pet parents on the signs of discomfort your pets may exhibit when suffering from injuries or underlying health issues, and what steps you can take to help your furry family member.
Pain in animals can have many causes: skin, ear and toenail conditions, accidental injuries, urinary issues, surgical pain, osteoarthritis, cancer, and others. Just as with humans, pain also causes emotional distress. Because animals cannot express their pain or anxiety in words, this month we’ll join animal professionals in spreading the word on how to speak the language of animals. You can learn to recognize pain and assist your pet when they need help, and teach others to do the same.
What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?
You have certainly experienced acute pain before, even if your worst injury has been a bashed toe or a stovetop burn. Acute pain is directly related to soft tissue damage, like a bruise, sprain or cut. Acute pain gradually resolves as the injury heals, usually no longer than 3 to 6 months for more serious injuries. While acute pain can sometimes be obvious if your pet is bleeding or walking oddly, some stoic dogs and cats will hide a cut, sprain or a broken nail, failing to exhibit obvious outward signs of pain through crying out, limping, etc. This makes it tricky for pet-parents to notice when their pet is hurt. Failure to notice a problem can prolong the pet’s discomfort.
Chronic pain can be even more difficult for you to note in your dog. It is subtle and can be due to inflammation, osteoarthritis, intervertebral disk disease, cancer, diabetic neuropathy (numbness and tingling in extremities), and other often-hidden causes. Chronic pain continues long after the period of tissue healing. Sometimes pet parents are tempted to just attribute their pet’s stiffness as “getting old.” But just as in humans, pain in animals should not be dismissed. It can often be reduced or resolved with the help of your veterinarian.
Pain impacts your pet’s quality of life
Chronic pain can decrease your pet’s quality of life, just as it would in your own. It can keep your pet from enjoying the normal everyday activities they once looked forward to. Our pets have shorter lives than our own. It’s up to us to make sure their days are comfortable and as joyous as possible.
How can you tell if your dog is in pain?
Here are 6 common ways a pet shows they are physically uncomfortable:
- Changes in your dog’s eating and drinking habits, especially a decrease in appetite.
- Changes in bathroom habits and body posture. A dog in pain may find squatting and leg-lifting uncomfortable. Intestinal or urinary discomfort may cause your dog to dread bathroom breaks and have indoor accidents.
- Yelping or snapping at you when a painful area is touched
- Panting or rapid breathing
- Changes in your dog’s energy level and mobility. An unhappy dog may be less interested in activities they once enjoyed, and they may also avoid the stairs.
- Over-grooming or constantly licking a specific part of the body
The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) has made it easy to spread the word on animal pain with their library of free, eye-catching, downloadable posters. They also have website banners, and social media graphics. Check them out and give them a share!
Your veterinarian can guide you on treating your pet’s pain
There are many options to treat the various causes of pain in animals including pain medications, physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, laser therapy, supplements, and therapeutic massage.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect way for veterinarians to determine how much pain an animal may be experiencing. Veterinarians often rely on their recognition of behavioral signs of discomfort. Even when the amount of pain a pet is experiencing is correctly estimated, it’s hard to tell how much emotional stress the pet is suffering because of it.
If your dog is experiencing joint stiffness, ask your veterinarian about CBD chews. Pampered Pets USA offers HEMP grain-free soft chews with glucosamine HCL, MSM and chondroitin. Our chews are made in the USA and contain 3 mg of CBD per chew. Because there is no detectable THC in our treats, they are safe to give your dog every day. Our FAQ can answer your questions about all of our HEMP Chews.
Your sharp eye as a pet parent can help guide your veterinarian as to how well your pet is recovering. Your pet may behave differently at home than in the stressful environment of a veterinarian’s office, so your awareness is invaluable in the treatment of your pet.
Back-to-school can bring a different kind of stress
Pets also experience emotional pain, so it’s fitting that Animal Pain Awareness Month falls in September when parents and communities are wrestling with the post COVID-19 back-to-school dilemma.
- Be mindful of your pets, whether you are home-schooling or your kids are headed back to a classroom (even for just a few hours a day). Schedules will be changing, and your dog is sure to notice that something is up! Your dog may be confused as to why the endless playtime has stopped, or why their house full of family is now empty for hours each day.
- Some dogs experience separation anxiety when left alone. Just like physical pain, emotional pain can also be discerned by your pet’s behavior. Your dog might show separation distress by barking and whining, becoming destructive to property, trembling, pacing, or even showing aggression to other pets or people. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, be sure to ask your veterinarian or a behaviorist for guidance.
- Some pet parents report that CBD has helped their anxious dog with separation anxiety. At Pampered Pets USA we have HEMP Functional Soft Dog Chews for calming as well.
Take an extra lesson in how to speak “dog” and spend part of September becoming more aware of your dog’s normal happy behavior. If your dog is currently dealing with pain or anxiety, paying close attention to their behavior now will help you determine if they are improving or not in the future. And remember that every pet, whether carefree or challenged by health issues, deserves pampering. Any of our Soft Chews would be the perfect treat. Visit our Pampered Pets USA product page to learn more!