Courtesy of the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society

When pets are in pain, owners may find it challenging to determine the root of the discomfort. Unlike people, companion animals cannot verbalize where it hurts or what is wrong. Some pets may not even exhibit signs they are in distress. Cats, dogs, and other domestic pets are prone to the same types of pain humans experience. Pain may stem from illness, injury, or other causes.

1. Underlying diseases. Diabetes, cancer, and hyperthyroidism can cause pain in animals, resulting in a lack of appetite. If your pet seems unenthusiastic at mealtime, make an appointment with a veterinarian to rule out disease as the culprit.

2. Dental and oral issues. Gum disease, tooth infections, sores, and other oral issues could cause distress in a pet and compromise its ability to eat. Inadequate nutrition can also make a pet weak.

3. Arthritis and joint pain. Older dogs, and those with genetic predispositions to conditions like hip dysplasia, may have chronic pain. Difficulty getting up from seated or prone positions may be an indicator. Pets with such conditions may not partake in activities they once enjoyed.

4. Post-operative pain. Animals recuperating from surgery may experience pain. Veterinarians often prescribe pain medication to help, but some pain may persist. A pet in pain can be more lethargic or may be snippy and aggressive.

It can take some trial and error to determine if a pet is in pain. Any behavior that goes against the norm could be a sign of illness, injury, or underlying pain.

The Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society consists of 75 small animal hospitals and 200 practitioners in Erie and Niagara counties. Learn more at