If your pet is in pain then they should see a veterinarian. Almost all of us have experienced some kind of pain, and we know how debilitating it can be. Our pets are no different, but they don’t have the language to convey how or what they feel.

However, you can learn to recognize the subtle and not so subtle signs that your pet is in pain. This will allow you to take steps to help them feel better more quickly – something we would all want for our beloved family members.

Natural Instincts

We all hope we’d know the moment our pet is in pain. But in reality, studies show that pet owners aren’t very good at recognizing signs of pain in their pets. It’s no easy thing, though, as evolution has protected animals who don’t exhibit signs of pain. It’s a basic instinct for our pets to hide illness or injury in order to be less vulnerable to predators when they’re weakened. So what’s a well-meaning pet owner to do?

Over the last two decades, veterinary medicine has made giant strides in anesthesia and pain management. We’re better than ever at recognizing the subtle signs of pain in animals, using pain scales to objectively measure signs of pain in animals, and then recommending pain control and management strategically for pets. And, innovative treatments like laser therapy are also now in our arsenal of tools to reduce pain in pets.

Signs That Your Pet Is In Pain

You are in the unique position to best monitor your pet’s behavior for signs of pain. Sometimes signs of pain are obvious – crying out, limping, or whining. But sometimes they are more subtle. Cats, especially, mostly show pain only through a change in behavior. Watch for any of the following signs:


  • No longer jumping up to favorite places
  • Slows down, moves tentatively
  • Eliminating outside the litter box
  • A friendly cat who is now hiding/avoiding interaction with you
  • General crabbiness
  • Excessive grooming
  • Doesn’t want to be picked up


  • Hunched back
  • Flattened ears
  • Hides, reluctant to move
  • Squinting
  • Withdraws, sleeps more
  • Pants when at rest
  • Grooming excessively
  • Acting out of character

Take Action

If you feel that your pet is in pain, don’t hesitate to seek veterinary attention. Sometimes signs that people think are “old age” are, in fact, pain – and older pets can feel much better and return to normal activity with effective pain management.

The sooner your pet’s pain is diagnosed, the sooner we can begin treatment, help her heal, and return her to a normal, happy life. Give the team at New Haven Pet Hospital  a call if you need to schedule an appointment to have your pet’s pain evaluated.