Animal Pain Awareness Month: Pain & How to Identify it in Animals

September is Animal Pain Awareness month! Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation that causes an emotional response as a result of actual or potential tissue injury. Animals are skilled at hiding pain, so it is up to us as their caretakers and health care providers to ensure that our pets live their best pain-free lives!

As our furry friends can’t speak to us and tell us when something is wrong, their pain is communicated through changes in behavior and body language. It is important to have the ability to identify the signs of pain in your pet, so that they may be seen by a veterinarian as soon as an issue arises. Below is a list of signs to familiarize yourself with, as they could indicate your pet is experiencing pain.

Painful Behaviors in Dogs:

  • Difficulty getting up or laying down
  • Trouble walking on slippery surfaces
  • Reluctance to jump on and off furniture or into a car
  • Slowing down on walks, resistant to going for walks
  • Difficulty finding a comfortable position
  • Vocalizing when touched or being picked up
  • Less social, not interested in normal play
  • Decreased appetite
  • Excessive licking, biting, or scratching of a specific body part
  • Panting or trembling when resting
  • Stiff walk or gait
  • Observable lameness
  • Sleeping more often


Painful Behaviors in Cats

  • Over-grooming a specific area or under-grooming
  • Hiding, less social, or less playful
  • Sleeping more often
  • Difficulty finding a comfortable position
  • Vocalizing (hissing) when touched
  • Decreased appetite
  • Unusual aggression when approached
  • Difficulty getting in or out of litter box
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation (eliminating outside the box, or on furniture)
  • Stiff walk or gait


If you feel that your pet may be experiencing signs of pain or discomfort and you live in the Boca Raton, Delray Beach, or Boynton Beach area(s), please feel free to call West Delray Veterinary at 561-777-7173 or email us at We offer multimodal pain management, rehabilitation, and acupuncture to help keep your pets happy and comfortable!