Animal Pain Awareness Month

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) has proclaimed September to be Animal Pain Awareness Month. All animals, like all people, suffer pain at various points in their lives. The IVAPM both educates and informs pet owners about the health and well-being of their pets in terms of managing acute or chronic pain.

Like humans, animals suffer pain from both injury and illness. Sources of acute pain (pain of shorter duration that usually resolves with healing the underlying cause) include being hit by a car, falling and breaking a bone or damaging an organ, surgical recovery, poisoning, animal and insect bites, and eye trauma, among many others.

Chronic pain usually lasts longer than six months and often results from an ongoing cause like arthritis, hip dysplasia, cancer and other diseases or unresolved conditions following injury.

Animals don’t exhibit pain symptoms the way humans do. Nature has wired them to hide or mask their pain lest predators might perceive any weakness, making a sick or injured pet more attractive prey. If we see our beloved companion moving more slowly, or being more submissive and less active, we might tend to think that perhaps our furry friend is just getting older and slowing down. But sometimes those could be signs of pain. So, how can you tell if your dog or cat is in pain? According to the IVAPM, here are some symptoms to look for:

– Decreased social interaction
– Anxious expression
– Submissive behavior
– Refusal to move
– Whimpering
– Howling
– Growling
– Guarding behavior
– Aggression, biting
– Decreased appetite
– Self-mutilation (chewing)
– Changes in posture


– Reduced activity
– Loss of appetite
– Quiet/loss of curiosity
– Changes in urinary/defecation habits
– Hiding
– Hissing or spitting
– Lack of agility/jumping
– Excessive licking/grooming
– Stiff posture/gait
– Guarding behavior
– Stops grooming/matted fur
– Tail flicking
– Weight loss

Many treatment options exist for the various causes of pain in animals such as pain medications, acupuncture, physical rehabilitation, therapeutic massage, and laser therapy. At Block House Creek Animal Hospital, our staff is trained to observe the symptoms of pain, diagnose its underlying causes, and discuss with you the best treatment options to ease your pet’s pain and restore your pet to good health and well-being as soon as possible.