You never want your fur baby to feel bad.
Unfortunately, sometimes it can be difficult to tell when your pet is experiencing pain, especially since animals don’t communicate feelings of discomfort in the same way as humans.
Often owners don’t realize their pet is hurting until a health problem becomes serious. To help owners identify possible issues, PEOPLE reached out to veterinarian Emi Saito, a VMD, MSPH, MBA and DACVPM at Banfield Pet Hospital, to learn about the signs professional look for when they are trying to determine whether a pet is in pain.
Dr. Saito has this expert advice to share, so you have more answers the next time you are concerned that your pet might be in pain.
How are the ways pets express pain different and similar to how humans express pain?
Dogs and cats can be quite skilled at concealing pain. Unlike people, pets can’t explicitly tell us that they are in pain or experiencing discomfort. But just like people, each pet may react to pain differently – some will visibly or audibly react to only the slightest discomfort, while others might not react until they are experiencing severe pain.
Mild pain might come from something like early or mild dental disease or skin irritation. A few examples of what might cause moderate pain in pets are a broken or abscessed tooth, minor eye injury, ear infections or the repair of a knee injury. Pets may experience severe pain from things like broken bones, severe burns or even moderate eye injuries.