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All senior pet’s will encounter chronic pain. Would you know if your senior dog had chronic pain?

Well. It’s easier to miss than most pet parents think. I see it often during my exams of pets.

The two places I commonly see chronic pain are: dental disease and arthritis.

Why do we easily miss chronic pain? For several reasons. First, signs of chronic pain exhibited by our pets are often subtle. And therefore easy to miss.

The second, is that the many misconceptions regarding chronic pain in pets. They don’t experience pain the same way we do. Well actually, studies indicate that animals have similar pain thresholds to people.

Another misconception is that since a pet does not ‘cry out’ or ‘tell me’ it hurts, it does not hurt. But the truth is that the majority of pet’s with arthritis or dental pain will rarely ‘cry out’ in pain due to a bad tooth or sore joints.

Why is this?

One reason is adaptation out of necessity. In the natural world, survival can depend on an animal’s ability to adapt and hide pain as best as possible. Open expression of pain leads to vulnerability and weakness which is not good for long term survival in the natural kingdom. So, dogs with chronic pain will do their best to hide and adapt to chronic pain by chewing on teeth on one side of their mouth that is not as painful or showing pain in more subtle forms like being ‘slower to rise’ than they were in their younger years.

Now that pet’s are living longer than ever, being vigilant as an owner of our senior pet’s for subtle changes in their routines are more important than ever. In my next post, I will cover what signs of mild, moderate and severe arthritis look like. Following that, I will discuss dental disease and implications of it in our senior pets.


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