As people with the power of speech, we can tell each other if we are in physical pain.  In fact, that is really the only way we know for sure someone else is experiencing pain, as by definition, pain is a perception in our conscious brain stimulated by nerve receptors elsewhere in our body.  So, how do we figure out if out pets are in pain?  They can “talk” to us with crying out or whining, however, that is usually the least likely behavior they will display – especially with chronic pain.  Think about when you have a headache, do you walk around saying “ow, ow, ow, ow….”?  Sometimes your family or friends might know you have a headache because your facial expression changes, you have low energy, you don’t feel like eating because you might also be nauseous.  Guess what, these are some of the clues that you can use with your pets!  Because you know them best, you know what is normal for them and what might not be.  Here are the top 5 signs of pain in your pet to watch out for:


  • Panting
  • Dull or worried look in eyes
  • Restlessness 
  • Reluctant to come when called or avoiding placing weight on a leg 
  • Avoids interaction with family 


  • Hesitation to jump to higher places 
  • Decreased grooming 
  • Moves gingerly 
  • Having accidents outside the litter box
  • Withdraws from family interaction 

The bottom line is that any behavior outside of normal could be a reason to see your veterinarian to have your pet examined.  Just like in people, we all have different levels of pain tolerance and show discomfort in different ways.  A physical examination by your veterinarian can sometimes elicit pain behaviors that they have been trained to find and look for – and could be one of the first signs that something is amiss!