Most pet parents think that they know their furry companions well enough to know if they are in pain. However, pets are very good at hiding the fact they are sore. We need to notice some very subtle changes in their habits and behavior if we are to make sure that they don’t suffer in silence, particularly in their senior years.
Changes in their energy levels
As our pets get older, we expect them to slow down; but actually, many tend to rest more and are less keen to exercise, not just because they are ageing but because they are suffering with arthritis and their joints make moving around painful. This is a particularly easy mistake to make in geriatric cats, which often sleep a great deal. Your vet will easily be able to diagnose arthritic joints by examining your pet. The doctor may prescribe some of the many safe medications that could help make them feel much better and even give them their old energy back.
Favoring softer food
I speak to many people who tell me that their older pets prefer canned food to biscuits, but they never seem to stop and ask themselves why. Sore mouths will only rarely make pets stop eating altogether, but they will cause a change in food preferences because their teeth are too sore to chew on the harder kibble.
Many pets who are in pain will limp when they walk, but won’t cry out or whimper. In fact, some pets can seem quite cheery despite their abnormal gait. Additionally, as is the case with arthritic joints, the lameness will wear off with exercise and is therefore easy to dismiss. However, your pet is fooling you! Limping of any sort or duration is a sign of pain and should trigger a visit to the vet.
Change in their personality
The kind of pain that is most common in our pets, especially when they are older is low grade, consistent, and constant, and most often comes from sore joints or toothache. This isn’t the kind of pain that causes them to cry out or whimper, but it is very depressing.
Watch out for previously sociable pets becoming withdrawn or grumpy. Sometimes they are more reluctant to play and may growl or even snap at family members or other pets to warn them to stay away.
If you are concerned about a pet, or they are showing any of the signs in this article, take them to your local veterinarian immediately for a check-up.