Some of these might seem obvious to some of us, but if this is your first pet or you got them fully grown, you may not have seen them any other way!

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Mobility issues. This can be obvious limping or a change in gait. Are they suddenly avoiding jumping and looking for ways to climb instead? Are they taking longer to get up and down? Taking longer to settle down? What looks like restlessness could be an inability to get comfortable.

A change in how much attention they seek. Avoiding people and other animals is common when an animal has pain…but some animals will seek more reassurance than usual. While some animals prefer more attention or more solitude than others, a change in behaviour can be a cry for help, and change is what we are looking for.

Excessive licking or chewing. Animals will often obsessively lick anywhere that hurts, even if the pain is internal. A pinched nerve or sore muscle can send spasms down a limb. This is often mistaken for allergies as the animal licks hair off or irritates the skin-and it looks like an allergic reaction.

Change in toileting habits. Knowing what is normal for your animal can help you recognise their abnormal. Pain can change the way an animal squats or lifts their leg. Pain can also cause them to suddenly be having incontinence accidents.

More vocalisation. An increase in whining, squealing, barking, hissing, yelping, grumbling, or growling can be a signal of pain. If you physically inspect your animal for painful spots yourself, be sure to do so gently.

Fear of loud noises. When we are startled we jump-just like animals. A sudden move can set off pain and cause the animal to react to that pain, but it can appear they are reacting to the noise.

Changes in posture. If your animal is suddenly tucking their tail, arching their back, not distributing weight equally across all limbs, holding their head low, sitting differently, or any other change to posture-it could be a sign of pain.

Eye issues. There may be a discharge that can be either wet and running from the eye, or dry and crusting around the eye. They may be rubbing their eye causing hair loss, swelling, redness, and squinting.

Changes to sleep. Animals with pain may sleep more in an attempt to recover, and staying still may be more comfortable. They may also start sleeping less because they cannot get comfortable, or are more comfortable moving around. Lack of sleep also causes irritability.

Breathing differently. Panting without having exercised can be a sign of stress. Shorter or slower breaths can also mean they are trying to avoid pain by not expanding their ribs to their full capacity when they breathe in.

Any of these signs require attention by a vet. Once a vet has been seen, contact me to start a treatment plan.

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Donna Monaghan

Canine Mobility Specialist

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