Pain in Cats and Dogs

posted: by: AAC Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Behavioral Characteristics Associated With Pain In Cats And Dogs
Abnormal Posture
·            Hunched up
·            Guarding/splinting of abdomen
·            "Praying" posture (forequarters on the ground, hindquarters in the air)
·            Sits or lies in an abnormal position
·            Not resting in a normal position

Abnormal Gait
·            Stiff
·            No to partial weight bearing on an injured limb
·            Slight to obvious limp

Abnormal Movement
·            Thrashing
·            Restlessness
·            No movement when not sleeping

·            Screaming
·            Whining (intermittent/constant/when touched)
·            Crying (intermittent/constant/when touched)
·            None

·            Looks, licks, or chews at the painful area
·            Hyperesthesia/hyperalgesia
·            Allodynia-ordinary, non-painful stimuli evoke pain

Behavioral characteristics associated with pain in cats & dogs but:
May also be associated with poor general health (medical problems)
·            Restlessness/agitation
·            Trembling/shaking
·            Tachypnea/panting
·            Weak tail wag
·            Low carriage of tail
·            Depressed/poor response to caregiver
·            Head hanging down
·            Not grooming
·            Appetite decreased/picky/absent
·            Dull/lies quietly and does not move for hours; does not dream
·            Stuporous
·            Urinates/defecates and makes no attempt to move
·            Recumbent and unaware of surroundings
·            Unwilling or unable to walk
·            Bites/attempts to bite caregiver

May also be associated with apprehension/anxiety
·            Restlessness/agitation
·            Trembling/shaking
·            Tachypnea/panting
·            Weak tail wag/low tail carriage
·            Slow to rise
·            Depressed (poor response to caregiver)
·            Not grooming
·            Bites/attempts to bite caregiver
·            Ears pulled back
·            Barking/growling (intermittent/constant/when approached) - dog
·            Growling/hissing (intermittent/constant/when approached) - cat
·            Sits in the back of his cage/hides under a blanket - cat

May be normal behavior
·            Reluctance to move head (eye movement only)
·            Stretching all four legs when abdomen touched
·            Penile prolapse
·            Cleaning (licking) a wound or incision

Physiological signs that can be associated with pain
·            Tachypnea/panting
·            Tachycardia (mild, moderate, severe) sped-up heart rate
·            Dilated pupils
·            Hypertension
·            Increased serum cortisol and epinephrine

Note: These signs are not consistently present in painful states and may be present in any anxious or excited animal.  Rarely, bradycardia may be present in painful conditions associated with intrathoracic structures, abdominal pathology, or post-laparotomy due to influence the parasympathetic nervous system, or decompensated shock.