Animal Pain Awareness Month: Tips from our Animal Hospital in Woodbridge VA

Recognizing pain or discomfort in our pets can be so challenging, but it is also so important for keeping your pet happy and healthy. It is always better to be overcautious when it comes to your pet's health, so our Animal Hospital in Woodbridge VA has some helpful signs to help you navigate your pet's health. This Animal Pain Awareness Month, take the opportunity to recognize your pet's normal behavior so that you can be more prepared to recognize abnormalities in the future. Keep reading to learn about common signs of discomfort in pets.
 
The most common signs of pain in pets include:
 
-decreased appetite
-lethargy
-anti-social behavior
-change in gait
-change in posture
-excessive grooming
 
Animals love food, so any refusal or reluctance to take food should be seen as a sign of something gone awry. If your pet rejects their favorite treat, something may be seriously wrong. Any refusal of food could be due to an intestinal blockage, nausea, or even a dental health issue. Don't keep encouraging your pet to eat if they have made it clear that they don't want it. This could lead to vomiting or further discomfort for your pet. If you notice your pet is unwilling to take food, call our office. We can perform a full physical examination to determine if there may be a reason your pet is uncomfortable. 
 
If you notice your pet favoring one side, or if they seem to have a change in posture, your pet may be suffering from an injury or discomfort. This adjustment in the way they carry themselves may be your pet's way of trying to alleviate pain. Another example of this could be refusal to go up or down stairs. Older pets commonly experience joint pain and arthritis, and may have difficulty walking on stairs as symptoms worsen. If you notice that your pet seems to be babying a paw, favoring one side over the other, or avoiding performing certain actions, they may be in pain. Call our animal hospital in Woodbridge VA to schedule a wellness exam so that our team can get a better understanding of what may be going on with your pet. We may be able to recommend some pain management treatments to help your pet stay comfortable even while experiencing things like arthritis or pain from injury.
 
While our pets do require plenty of rest throughout the day, lethargy and antisocial behavior could be a sign that they are not feeling their best. If you notice that your pet is lying around the house, tends to stay in corners or away from guests, or even just looks a little sad, they may be sick. This type of behavior can be difficult to pick up if your pet is older, or even if you are a cat owner. Senior pets need lots of rest and we may not always notice that they are actually uncomfortable. Cats are very elusive and are more likely to hide their illness from their owner. Always take note of instances where your pet may not be as excited about something that they typically enjoy, such as playtime or getting their favorite treat. While lethargy could just be a sign that your pet is starting to slow down, it could also mean that something is wrong. Submissive behavior like lying belly-up or avoiding eye contact could be your pet's way of communicating their unhappiness. A sick pet could be acting more submissive as a way of asking for help.
 
Lethargy is more than just sleeping for several hours of the day. If you notice your pet seems particularly low-energy and tends to avoid interacting with guests, they may be experiencing pain. If it seems difficult to excite your pet, or if they ignore your attempts at playtime, they may be experiencing some pain that could be hindering their energy or physical wellness. A sick pet may act more submissive than usual, or they may spend a majority of their time lying around the house and avoiding people or activity. This can be particularly difficult to pick up on if you are a cat owner because cats tend to be very elusive with their discomfort. If you notice your cat lying around more than usual, or if they seem to avoid participating in activity, consider bringing them in for a visit at our animal hospital in Woodbridge VA. 
 
Excessive grooming can also be a sign that your pet may be uncomfortable. This can be common for pets who experience seasonal allergies. Frequent itching, licking, or rubbing on surfaces could be a sign that your pet is uncomfortable. Our team may be able to treat this discomfort with medication or adjustments to your pet's diet. Keep your pet comfortable by taking note of anything that may be causing a reaction. Check for any signs of rash or irritation, and let us know if your pet has common allergy symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, or watery eyes. 
 
Regular wellness visits can help alert you to any underlying health issues your pet may be experiencing. Bring your pet in for a physical exam at least once per year, and don't be afraid to call us with any questions or concerns you have about your pet's health. You can reach our team at (571) 285-1855. We look forward to hearing from you, so call today!
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