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How Do I Know if My Pet is in Pain?

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As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to watch out for your pet at all times. Since animals can’t communicate with us the way people can with each other, we have to pay attention to their behaviors to tell when something’s wrong. This is especially true for pets that are in pain. After an injury or illness, your pet may not be feeling well, and it will usually let you know through specific behavioral patterns. Our veterinarians at Blue Lake Animal Hospital explore some signs of pain that pet owners should be aware of. If you think your pet was hurt, call our office for immediate assistance. 

Consider the Type of Pet You Have

Different animals have different reactions to pain. In dogs, they may become unusually aggressive as a defense mechanism. Cats, on the other hand, might be unusually withdrawn or more timid than usual. Symptoms can also be different depending on whether the pain has started recently or gradually over time: short-term pain may lead to more pronounced behavioral issues, while animals that have been in pain for a long time occasionally hide their discomfort. 

With these differences in mind, consider the following physical symptoms that your furry friend may present when it is in pain. 

Decreased Interest In Activities

Chronic pain can make functioning difficult, and that’s true for animals as well. A pet that is in pain may have less interest in things it usually enjoys, such as going for walks or playtime. Furthermore, animals in pain generally have lower appetites. You may notice your pet turning down a favorite treat or hardly eating anything out of its food bowl. A noticeable and prolonged lack of interest may indicate an underlying health issue. 

Becoming Withdrawn

Most pets have a routine. Your pet likely knows when it’s time for a meal or a walk and may even approach you in hopes of attention. They may even wait for family members to come home from work or school. If that’s true for you, it may be surprising if your typically friendly, outgoing pet suddenly started hiding from you. Pain can make animals become defensive and withdrawn. This is especially true for cats, who may choose remote hiding spots. Dogs tend to become less reactive to social interactions.

Changes in Behavioral Patterns

Pets often change their behaviors when in pain. Your animal may avoid doing certain things if it knows it may cause them pain. For instance, a cat may avoid jumping onto certain surfaces, knowing that it will hurt on the way down. 


Many of us wish our pets could talk to us, if only to let us know when something is wrong. In fact, some pets have increased vocalizations when in pain. Cats often hiss, which is a defensive behavior, while dogs may growl. In other cases, your animal may bark, cry, or whine more frequently in an attempt to get your attention. 

Contact a Veterinarian For a Checkup

If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms in your pet, it’s worth speaking to a veterinarian at Blue Lake Animal Hospital. We can provide an in-depth physical assessment and build a treatment plan so your pet will feel like itself again in no time. 

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Managing your pet’s medical needs is easy when you use our online pharmacy. Renew your pet’s prescription and purchase FDA-approved medication right from the comfort of your home. If you have any questions, contact us to speak with a trusted veterinarian.