Signs Of Pain In Pets

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month. Pets can’t tell us if they don’t feel well, so it’s important for us to be able to tell if something is wrong. Here, an Ellicott City, MD veterinarian lists some warning signs to look for.


Cats often try to mask signs of illness. Your pet may withdraw, and keep to herself. She may also stop grooming herself, which can make her fur look greasy and unkempt. Uncharacteristic vocalizations and/or behavior are also warning signs.


Like cats, dogs often withdraw when they don’t feel well. Fido may pace, or seem to have trouble getting comfortable. He may also lose interest in food and playing, and may bark, whine, or growl if touched.


With reptiles, some things to look for include lesions; cuts; incomplete skin sheds; redness or irritation; discoloration; and tiny dark spots, which are indicative of mites. Discharge or swelling of the mouth is also a warning sign. Many reptiles also sit in stiff or strange positions. This is called ‘stargazing.’


If Polly doesn’t feel well, she may flap her feathers, shift her weight, or sit listlessly on the bottom of her cage. Redness or swelling around the cere is another indication that something isn’t right. You may also notice missing, broken, dirty, or discolored feathers, or swelling and/or redness of the feet and legs.

Pocket Pets/Exotics

Many smaller animals will huddle in their hides. Bunnies and Guinea pigs may scream and/or grind their teeth. You may also notice soiled fur. Exotic animals all display pain a bit differently, so do some research, and find out more about what to look for in your specific pet.

All Animals

There are a few things that apply to most if not all pets. These include lack of appetite, trembling, limping, swelling, skin issues, fever, lethargy, respiratory issues, changes in water intake, vomiting, and diarrhea. Discharge from the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth is also a concern, as is sudden, unexplained weight gain or loss. You’ll also need to watch for anything unusual in the amount, color, smell, or texture of your pet’s waste. Call your vet right away if you notice any of these indicators. It’s always best when an issue can be caught and treated early.

Please contact us, your local Ellicott City, MD animal clinic, anytime. We’re here for you!

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