By Dr Craig L. McLahan
It’s something I often hear when people talk about their senior dog. As humans we are so used to expressing pain vocally. “Ouch!” we yell when we stub our toe. We groan when we get up and our back hurts. We project that on our pet and expect them to whimper or howl when they’re in pain. But animals express pain in a different way than humans do. It is very common that people do not recognize pain in their pets because they cannot tell us and they will not usually vocalize. The signs are more subtle.
Is it taking your pet longer to get up from laying down? Do they have a stiff or rigid gait? Chances are that sluggishness and personality change are the result of pain. Your dog may have arthritis. This is a painful condition that would benefit from supplements, analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications.
Just like people pets’ bodies undergo changes related to aging. By doing a physical examination and blood work we can determine if these changes are normal or if there are more serious underlying diseases. Is your cat or dog drinking and peeing more than usual? Is their appetite increased or decreased? Are they gaining or losing weight? Do they seem confused or uneasy performing tasks that are usually very easy for them? Are they sleeping any less or more than usual? These could all be signs of something more serious.
Of course it would be much better for your pet’s wellbeing to prevent any problems or catch them at a very early stage, before you see any signs at all. Do you own a cat over eight years old? Or a dog that’s older than six (larger breeds) to ten (smaller breeds) years old? It would be good to get baseline values for your pet as they move into their ‘golden years’. This senior check is a starting point and determines any possible issues at an early stage. Once these issues have been determined we can prevent your pet from being in pain. Because they deserve the most pleasant and pain free golden years that we can offer them!