By Dr. Jeret Benson
Wellington Veterinary Hospital
Pets are extraordinarily stoic by nature.
They do very little to show symptoms of pain or discomfort and many pet owners do not realize that their pet is actually hurting. Often times, they resist overtly displaying their ailments to their owners until the pain becomes unbearable. I often hear from pet owners that their pet does not cry out and therefore is not in pain.
Very few pets actually cry out when they are in pain. The most common signs of pain are excessive sleep, hiding, loss of interest in food and physical activities (such as walks), abnormal posture, and gait changes. As pets age, it is very common to find pain typically related to arthritis in their joints. Fortunately, there are a number of things pet owners and veterinarians can do to help ease the pain. A combination of treatments is most effective to get pets back to a non-painful state. First and foremost, a lean/healthy body weight is essential. An ideal weight can be achieved with a well-balanced calorie-controlled diet and moderate frequent exercise. It is not ideal for pets to be ‘weekend warriors’ as this will only exacerbate injuries and pain. In addition to an ideal weight, there are a variety of joint supplements that are helpful to decrease inflammation, slow the onset of arthritis, and keep joints healthy. Furthermore, there are several alternative therapies such as acupuncture, laser therapy, and physical therapy exercises. Finally, there are a number of medications that can be used to help ease pain. These habit changes and treatments can increase your pet’s quality of life and potentially life expectancy. If you are concerned that your pet may be painful please bring them to Wellington Veterinary Hospital for a pain evaluation.