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Is my pet in pain?


Our pets, like us, can suffer from pain. While most pet owners feel they would be able to tell if their pet was uncomfortable, the truth is that it can be difficult. Are you aware of the warning signs? Because our pets can’t use words to communicate, we've compiled a list of physical signs that can warn us when they're in discomfort.

Excessive Grooming

Excessive grooming often happens to help soothe a particularly painful spot. It’s an instinct to ‘clean’ the wound or area. When pets are injured, their first response is to lick the wound to clean and care for it. Even if the wound isn't obvious and the pain isn't external, pets will lick the area to try to heal it. If your pet is licking or chewing an area excessively, it’s time to see your vet.

Personality Changes

Behavioural changes can be a strong indicator of pain. You may notice this in several ways. If your pet seems normal but just doesn't seem like themselves, this type of behaviour change could be a sign of pain. Other behaviour changes can include a normally docile pet becoming unexpectedly grouchy, or a pet who typically prefers to be alone time becomes extremely needy.

While these are not always signs of pain, your pet may be trying to tell you that something isn’t right and that your help is needed.

Breathing Changes

Breathing quickly can be caused by a variety of factors (e.g., anxiety, stress, or heat), but it can also be caused by pain. When pets are in pain, their heart rate and respiration rate increase.

For dogs, watch out for excessive or odd panting patterns. If it isn’t a warm day, your dog hasn’t just exercised, or there are no stress indicators (like a visit to the vet centre), this can be another pain signal.

Unless you know it’s normal behaviour for your feline friend, panting in cats is almost always a sign of a medical issue that needs immediate attention.


Is your pet not sleeping as well as it used to? When pets are in pain, they will sleep more than usual. It could be their body's way of attempting to heal, or it could be that moving and being active is tough for them.

Pets may be restless and unable to settle. When your pet is in discomfort, they may find it difficult to sit or lie down. They may lie in an awkward position or appear to have difficulty staying in one place. For example, they may sit or lie down for a short period of time before getting up and moving again.


A decrease in appetite is a common sign of pain, especially if your pet has always eaten well. Difficulty chewing, drinking less or more water, and weight fluctuations are all symptoms that your pet should be examined by a veterinarian.

Physical Changes

There are also physical symptoms that your pet is in discomfort, this can include:

  • Arched back

  • Doesn’t want to be held or picked up

  • Holding a limb up

  • Lameness/limping

  • Shaking or tremors not previously noted

  • Unable or reluctance to move

  • Unprovoked aggression

  • Vocalising, whining, crying out

It’s never easy seeing our furbaby’s in pain. If you are worried at all, it’s always a good idea to get them checked by your vet. Better to be safe than sorry.


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Pets Health is a full service animal hospital with clinics located in Hilton and O’Halloran Hill. We are dedicated to helping you keep your best mate happy and healthy through each stage of their life with compassionate and reassuring veterinary care.

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O’Halloran Hill Vet Centre

123 Main South Road
O’Halloran Hill, SA 5158

Hilton Vet Centre

142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Hilton, SA 5033