How to Tell If Your Beloved Pet is in Pain

As devoted pet owners, we share an unbreakable bond with our four-legged companions. Our pets bring immeasurable joy and love into our lives, becoming treasured members of our families. However, just like humans, pets can experience discomfort and pain due to various reasons. In honor of Animal Pain Awareness Month, we take a closer look at how to recognize signs of pain in your furry friends. Drawing insights from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and DVM 360, this blog will equip you with the knowledge needed to identify when your pet might be in pain.

Understanding the Signs

Pets have their unique ways of communicating pain, and your ability to interpret these subtle cues can make a significant difference in their overall well-being. This Animal Pain Awareness Month, let’s explore common signs that your pet may be in pain, as highlighted by AVMA:

  1. Changes in Behavior: Your pet might become unusually withdrawn, irritable, or aggressive. They may avoid social interactions, even with family members.
  2. Altered Appetite: A noticeable decrease or increase in your pet’s appetite could be a sign of discomfort. Watch out for significant weight loss or gain.
  3. Reduced Activity: If your once energetic pet suddenly becomes lethargic or unwilling to engage in physical activities, it could indicate pain.
  4. Vocalizations: Unexplained whining, whimpering, or excessive meowing could be their way of expressing pain or distress.
  5. Changes in Grooming Habits: Cats may groom excessively or stop grooming altogether when they’re in pain. Dogs might lick, chew, or bite at certain areas of their body.
  6. Posture and Movement: An arched back, limping, or difficulty in getting up or lying down may point to underlying pain.
  7. Facial Expressions: Pay attention to their facial expressions. For instance, a pet in pain might squint their eyes, flatten their ears, or have a tense expression.
  8. Breathing Patterns: Rapid or shallow breathing could indicate pain, especially in cats. Dogs might pant excessively.
  9. Changes in Sleep Patterns: If your pet is restless, sleeps more than usual, or has difficulty finding a comfortable position to rest, it might be due to pain.
  10. Sensitive to Touch: Flinching, growling, or snapping when touched can be clear indications of pain.

Seeking Professional Help

During Animal Pain Awareness Month, we emphasize the importance of consulting a veterinarian if you notice any signs of pain in your pet. While the aforementioned signs can provide valuable insights, they are not definitive indicators of pain. A veterinarian is trained to conduct a thorough physical examination, consider your pet’s medical history, and perform necessary tests to accurately diagnose the source of discomfort.

DVM 360 underscores the critical role of pain management in veterinary care. Your veterinarian will design a personalized treatment plan that may involve medications, physical therapy, or other interventions, depending on the underlying cause of pain.

Prevention for a Pain-Free Future

In the spirit of Animal Pain Awareness Month, let’s embrace the significance of prevention. Regular check-ups, balanced nutrition, weight management, and consistent exercise form the cornerstone of a proactive care routine. AVMA also emphasizes the importance of pet-proofing your home to mitigate the risk of accidents or injuries.

This Animal Pain Awareness Month, let us renew our commitment to our furry companions’ well-being. By remaining attentive to their communication and promptly seeking professional care, we can ensure our pets lead happy, healthy, and pain-free lives. Remember, your dedication as a pet owner plays a pivotal role in safeguarding their quality of life.


  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • DVM 360