Have you ever wondered if animals feel pain? Many people do because animals don’t seem to express pain like we do. They don’t talk about it to their spouse or parent, they don’t joke with their co-workers, they don’t call the doctor to make an appointment to discuss it. Rest assured they do feel pain. Think about a limping pet…they don’t cry or whine, they don’t complain, they just power through and carry on as best they can. They suffer silently.
Is pain bad? Pain most certainly can be bad and in more ways than most people think. Acute pain can serve a purpose – to warn the body there is something wrong. It brings out a protective response and should go away quickly. However, chronic pain serves no protective purpose and can be a disease in itself. There are far reaching chemical effects in the body when it is dealing with pain all the time. These effects can slow digestion, delay healing and have a psychological impact on our pets. Long term pain left untreated can actually lead to more pain. This is called Windup Pain and is a physiological response.
Long term untreated pain teaches the body to act in abnormal ways. One part of the body will over compensate for the pain present in another part of the body. From this we find compensation pain or dysfunction. We can go from one sore leg to two or three sore legs because of bad mechanics. A pet can go from slowing down to suddenly unable to rise or walk at all.
It can be hard to recognize pain in some pets because they hurt silently There are many signs we can all use that can indicate that our pet is uncomfortable. Here is a link to a great Pain Handout you can use at home. Pain is not an all or nothing phenomenon so keep in mind that just like you, our pets can have different levels of pain, and words like tender, sensitive, sore, or ouchy can come to mind. Not all pain is 10/10 pain but pain that starts out mild can grow to severe if left untreated. Check out our mobility report card CODI and see if you think your cat or dog is starting to show early indicators. The earlier we start to treat your pet’s pain the better.
By: Dr. Erin Troy