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Is Your Pet In Pain?

When it comes to pain, the main difference between people and their pets is how they express their sensation of it.   Humans are more likely to vocalize their pain and tell their family, friends or physician about their discomfort.   Humans can also express their pain with facial expressions.

Pets on the other hand have a variety of responses to pain.   These responses vary from being vocal and aggressive, to protecting themselves from further pain by becoming very subdued and withdrawn.

Other subtle body language includes panting, holding their ears down flat against the head, shivering, or licking at the area that is painful.   The expressions of pain from our pets is not the typical expression we may expect,  and we can easily miss recognizing that our pet may need help.

A general rule is, if your pet is acting differently in any way, they are trying to tell you something.

Some causes of pain are injuries, especially in a hyperactive puppy that may have jumped from a high place and sprained a limb or even fractured a bone.   The older dog may be prone to sprains especially if overweight, and all ages are capable of injuries if allowed to roam where they can be exposed to bites from other pets or risk injury by vehicles.

Orthopedic problems are another major cause of pain in growing dogs.   As they age, some orthopedic problems may develop into osteoarthritis which is the number one cause of pain and discomfort in adult dogs.   All ages can experience pain from having dental problems such as a tooth decay, fractured teeth or gingivitis.   Pain can be mistaken for many other conditions.   Some causes of pain require a thorough physical examination to detect the source.

As humans, when we experience pain relief is sometimes as simple as taking one of the many over-the-counter remedies.  However, with our pets we must be careful since some of those same medications can be extremely toxic or fatal.   For example, Tylenol® can be deadly to cats and aleve® is more toxic to dogs than to any other species.

Aspirin can be used with extreme care in dogs but more cautiously in cats which tolerate it even less than dogs.   You should always consult us here at Quail Roost for recommendations on which of these over-the-counter medications to use and at what dosage.   Remember, some over-the-counter medications can be toxic to your pets.    We must always keep them safely contained and out of reach of them, so they do not accidentally ingest them.

New medications for treatment of pain are becoming available.   Recently the first non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug was cleared for use in dogs to relieve pain and inflammation on a long term basis.    This medication which is manufactured b Pfizer under the name Rinadyl has been used in over two million dogs in the U.S.

We have used Rimadyl extensively at Quail Roost with excellent results.   This medication has made a great difference in how we manage cases of pain due to arthritis or known injuries.

We hope similar products will be developed for cats.   As for now, there is no approved long term pain management medication for felines.

In summary, just as there are lots of similarities between people and pets when it comes to pain, there are also some major differences.   The differences are most notable in how they express it - which sometimes is in so subtle a way that it may be difficult for us to know they are in pain.   Finally, how to treat pain is an area where there are major differences, therefore, we must be careful not to use our own remedies unless these have been cleared for use by us at Quail Roost.


Quail Roost Animal Hospital
Julio A. Ibáñez, D.V.M.
10575 S.W. 186 Street (Quail Roost Drive)
Miami, Florida   33157
(305) 235-4991 Office