The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) celebrates Animal Pain Awareness Month every September. Today, we want to give you some signs to look out for the signals that your pet is in some sort of pain. As a rule of thumb, if something “feels off” with your pet, it’s probably a good time to get them in to see us.

Recognizing and alleviating pain in our patients is at the heart of quality, compassionate patient care. Ways this will be achieved at TCAH include: preventative supplements, oral pain control, dietary modifications, injectable control, referral for cold laser therapy, and acupuncture/massage.

Below are six things to look for that may indicate your pet is experiencing pain:

1. Overall decreased activity.

If you notice your pet less interested in playing and acting more lethargic – it could be a sign that they are dealing with a pain issue you don’t know about. Be sure to monitor their play patterns and daily schedule over time so that you know when something isn’t normal.

2. Over licking one area.

If your pet is overly focused on or licking one area frequently, it could be a sign that they’re dealing with some pain in that spot.

3. Skipping the stairs.

Does your pet usually have no issue with stairs? Is your pet reluctant to go up or down the stairs? This could be an early sign of osteoarthritis.

4. Reluctance to jump onto surfaces.

This is more aimed at cats and can signal a pain issue if they aren’t jumping up or down on surfaces they usually jump towards. Watch for any behavior changes that deviate from normal activity.

5. Difficulty standing.

If you notice your pet laying down for long periods of time and having trouble standing up, this could also be an early sign of osteoarthritis.

6. Decreased appetite.

If you pet is eating less, this could be a sign that they’re dealing with mouth pain. Be sure to check their mouth for any issues like redness, sores, or yellow/brownish teeth.