Injury means something different for dogs and cats in the wild.
In the wilderness, showing weakness is a death sentence, so animals hide signs of injury and pain and conceal symptoms of illness. While your dog or cat may have never experienced the wilderness first-hand, their instincts still direct them to hide discomfort from potential predators. In fact, they may even hide themselves in a location where they feel safe and protected. That can make it really difficult to determine when Mittens or Fido are feeling under the weather.
Chronic pain can be hazardous to a pet’s health.
While your pet may bear up bravely when it’s suffering, the suffering still has consequences. Chronic pain takes a toll on sleep and appetite, which further deteriorates pet health. The stress of untreated pain in dogs and cats also triggers a continual flood of stress-related hormones. While short-term stress can help animals adapt, the regular release of hormones associated with chronic stress from pain can be hazardous. As hormones wash through the body over and over, they impact every system, from neurological to cardiovascular.
Undiagnosed illnesses in pets can’t be treated.
Your pet’s natural tendency to hide pain and discomfort can also become an obstacle to life-saving treatments. While chronic pain slowly wears down the health of a dog or cat, undiagnosed illnesses can lead to more tragic results that feel sudden and unexpected.
Behavioral changes may indicate your pet is in pain.
Because masking weakness is so instinctive to pets, they may not show the same sort of pain responses you’d expect from human family members. However, they will have some “tell.” Normally excitable dogs may become less interested and quieter than usual. Cats that are usually aloof and moody may begin to stick close and demand more attention. Both dogs and cats may hide when they’re unwell to avoid detection by potential predators, and they may seem to sleep more (or less) and stop eating altogether. Other signs of distress include:
- Excessive panting
- Stiff body movements or limping
- Shallow breathing
- Irritability or whining
- Avoiding touch
Don’t hesitate if your instinct is telling you there’s something wrong.
Generally speaking, if your pet’s behavior becomes unusual, it’s a good idea to at least touch base with your family vet. At Glove Cities Veterinary Hospital, we recommend routine physical examinations to establish baselines of your pet’s wellness and to allow us to catch issues while they’re still easily manageable. Your regular visits also give you a chance to ask questions or express your concerns. Schedule your pet’s annual wellness visit today.