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How to Know If a Pet Is Hurt

Generally, animals are good at hiding signs of pain or discomfort. Since they cannot talk, it is up to you to recognize the signs that your pet is hurting. The signs may present themselves in behavioral changes, physical symptoms, or mobility issues. Things to look out for include:

More or Less Vocalization

If your usually subtle pet starts whining without any visual signs, it may be suffering. However, some pets become less vocal when in pain. Some dogs may groan, moan, or whimper.

Lack of Appetite

Like humans, pets in distress may be less likely to eat or drink normally. It may be a sign of illness or pain. A cat or dog with dental pain may drop food when eating. Dental pain can be a result of loose teeth, sore gums, or oral infections.


A pet trying to stay clean is acceptable. But if your pet is overdoing it, something may be wrong. Obsessively chewing, scratching, or licking a particular spot can be your pet’s way of trying to soothe a sore joint.

A common cause of pain is acral lick dermatitis. Most common in dogs, this disease affects their hip bones and wrists. Over-grooming can cause your pet’s fur to stand up around the sensitive area or dull the shine of its coat.


The common reasons pets tremble can be out of fright or being cold. If not, they may be in pain or sickness. Shaking can also stem from muscle spasms or tightness.

Difficulty Standing

Just like humans, animals can also suffer from arthritis. One sign of osteoarthritis in pets is limping or difficulty standing up after resting for some time.  An animal with the disease may struggle to walk up or down a flight of stairs.


If a previously friendly pet begins acting out of character, something may be wrong. Some animals can pin back their ears, hiss, growl, or bite when in pain. However, a typically aggressive pet may become docile or quiet when ill or uncomfortable.

Change in Posture

An unusual change in posture may indicate that your pet may be suffering. The way your pet holds its tail or head shows that they need more attention. They may also spend long hours lying on their side. Swelling on the face, paws, or legs can be a sign of infection or inflammation from a wound.


An animal in pain may have an increase in its rate of respiration or pant heavily. It is particularly questionable when this happens in cool weather.

Changes in the Eyes

Your pet’s eyes can say a lot about how they are feeling. When they have irritation in the eyes, you may see some cloudiness, redness, or discharge. Dilating and squinting the eyes can also mean they are hurting elsewhere in the body.

If you suspect your pet is hurt, call El Paso Animal Urgent Care West at our office in El Paso, Texas at (915) 301-0065 to book an appointment today. For round-the-clock emergency care, you can call (915) 545-1148.

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