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Is Your Pet in Pain? Top Signs to Watch Out For!

No pet owner wants to see their animal suffering and in pain. Unfortunately, the obvious verbal communication barrier between us and our pets means that it isn’t always easy to tell when they are experiencing discomfort or pain. While some signs are fairly obvious, others are much more difficult to identify – even for the most experienced owner. Combined with the fact that animals have a natural tendency to try and mask their discomfort as much as possible, it’s no wonder that figuring out when a pet is in pain is so difficult.


Fortunately, there are certain behaviors that can illustrate that there is a problem that could be causing your pet discomfort. Here are some of the top signs that your pet is in pain to watch out for.

Changes in their usual habits

Most pets are creatures of routine and over time, you have probably learned a little about when your furbaby likes to sleep, how much they like to eat, and how much they drink each day. Pets that are in pain tend to try and sleep more often so that they can block out their discomfort. They may also eat and drink less, or if your pet drops their food, it can be a sign of a dental problem.

Visible changes to their body or posture

In some cases, animals experience visible changes to their body as a result of an injury or health condition that is also causing them pain. For example, swollen legs, an unusual lump or bump, or inflammation of the face or mouth. Animals can also become very rigid and develop unusual posture if they are experiencing discomfort or pain. Any concerns about either of these symptoms, speak to your veterinary team.

Antisocial or aggressive behavior

You are normally your pet’s favorite person, so if they suddenly become antisocial or aggressive it is a sure sign that something isn’t quite right with them. If you try and touch your pet and they growl, bark, hiss, yelp or exhibit any other angry behavior, it can indicate that something on their body hurts and they don’t want to be touched.

Excessive grooming

Excessive grooming is one of the most well-known signs of a pet that is unwell or in pain. This is because an animal’s first instinct is often to clean and care for areas of their body that are hurt by licking and grooming them. If your pet is licking and grooming an area over and over, it’s time to get it checked out by your vet.


All dogs pant, but if you have a canine that is panting heavily despite not having done any exercise, they could be suffering from an underlying problem or discomfort. Shallow breathing could also indicate that it is painful for your pet to breathe properly.

Limping or mobility issues

Is your pet limping or slow and cautious to move around? These are tell-tale signs of injury and could also mean that your furbaby is in pain. If they are reluctant to play or exercise, are slow to get up, or seem stiff, schedule an appointment for them with your vet.

If you would like more advice about how to tell if your pet is in pain, or to schedule an appointment with our experienced and compassionate veterinary team, please call our animal clinic today.

Experienced Emergency Vet Care in Poway

Animal Emergency Clinic of San Diego is a family-run after-hours and critical care hospital, providing veterinary emergency care since 1985. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact us to get the help your pet needs.

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