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Is My Kritter In Pain?


Many pet owners ask their Veterinarians, Veterinary Techs / Nurses, and Trainors daily how they could tell if their pet(s) were in pain.  Whether this was from an injury or sickness, we as pet owners want to know, and hopefully the information and references discussed in this article will help!

Dogs and cats have different ways of showing pain, but there is some similarities in the behaviors that our pet(s) can show us when in pain or not feeling normal. Some of these shared behaviors may include:

  • Decrease or loss of appetite
  • Quiet or submissive behavior
  • Hissing, howling, whimpering or growling
  • Increased and excessive grooming, licking self, biting self, etc.

More Signs in Dogs:

These Symptoms Would Suggest Veterinarian Assessment:

  1. Increased aggression. Unlike cats, dogs can display aggression if they aren’t feeling well. Don’t take this behavior personally. Aggression when sick is known as a defense mechanism used to protect against unwanted bothering.
  2. Restlessness. A dog in pain may not be able to settle down comfortably. If your dog seems agitated and stiff, watch for a limp and lethargy – these can be important clues for recognizing hip pain or arthritis. A dog that arches their back or tends to stretch more than usual may also be indicating back pain or spinal issues.
  3. Squinting. Dogs with eye pain may react by squinting. Smaller pupils can also be an indication of pain. Corneal ulcers and other eye diseases should be treated immediately to reduce the chances of permanent damage.

More Signs in Cats:

Keep a lookout for these behaviors and symptoms that may also suggest veterinarian assessment:

  1. Hiding. Hiding is one way that cats can ensure that they won’t be bothered. Typically social creatures, a cat that’s in hiding for long periods of time may be a sign of something awry.
  2. Hunching posture. A change in posture can signal a cat in pain. Sitting with their paws underneath them, showing disinterest in their surroundings or sitting alone could indicate a number of different health ailments, including abdominal pain, constipation, urinary infections and in some cases an abscess, cancer, pancreatitis, feline panleukopenia, or gastrointestinal obstruction.
  3. Trouble using the litter box. Back or hip pain can prevent a cat from crouching in the right position to use the litter box. Feces and urine on the sides of the box may hint that your cat is having some mobility issues.


What Do I Do Next if Pet Is In Pain?

  • DO NOT immediately PANIC! Your pet may feel this energy and become upset or nervous.
  1. Make an appointment with your vet or local ER hospital
  2. Stop or Change physical activities until directed by Vet/ER to do otherwise
  3. Keep notes on signs and symptoms your seeing the pet experience
  4. Ask Questions, Explore ALL treatment options, and seek secondary opinion  if need be
  5. Finally, Be YOUR pet’s ADVOCATE – they depend on you to be their voice!



  1. PetMD; “How To Tell If A Dog Is In Pain and What You Can Do To Help”, Click Here for Link.
  2. AZ PetVet; “Common Signs of Pain in Animals”, Click Here for Link
  3.  IVAPM. “Common Signs of Pain in Dogs and Cats”, Click Here for link