It is expected that animals experience pain even if they cannot exactly perceive or communicate it in the same way people do, but recognising pain or discomfort in animals is not as easy as you think.
Acute pain may be more easily identified than chronic, but the accurate assessment of level of pain in animals remains a subjective and challenging task as characteristics displayed by individuals can vary greatly between species and sizes of each. Acute pain can be seen immediately after trauma occurs or from a surgical procedure whereas chronic pain occurring over time may see the animal developing subtle changes over a long period e.g. arthritis.
Methods to assess individuals includes both physiologic (e.g. changes in heart rate, respiratory rate, arterial blood pressure, pupil dilation) and behavioural variables.
Depending on the type of animal, some of the behavioural changes that you may recognise at home with your pet may include:
- Decrease or loss of appetite
- Quiet or submissive behaviour
- Vocalisation- Hissing, howling, whimpering or growling
- Increased and excessive grooming, licking self, biting self, etc.
- Increased aggression
- Hunching posture
- Trouble using the litter box
If you notice that something is not right with your pet, without being able to say exactly what it is, book in a check -up with our vets today.