We can easily tell when our pets are feeling playful, or even a little under the weather, but how good are owners at spotting when their dog is actually in pain?
According to vet Catriona Shaw of Hillcrest Animal Hospital, even highly experienced dog owners can be fooled into thinking their dog is pain-free when, really, they are struggling.
It’s a particular issue when dogs have no visible signs of injury, such as when they’re suffering from joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. And it can mean that pets suffer silently for longer than they need to before receiving treatment.
“Quite often we’ll see owners who say they don’t think their dog is in pain because they’re not ‘crying’,” she points out.
“But there can be many other signs.”
She warns that older pets are particularly at risk of ‘suffering in silence’ just because their behaviour can be confused with ‘old age’. Yet it’s those very older animals which are likely to be most at risk from age-related conditions.
Look out for:
Lazy dogs who lose interest in going for a walk or no longer jump on the couch or bed.
A pet that sleeps more than usual – that’s often a way to escape nagging pain.
A dog that becomes detached from family members or which clings to one person in particular.
Generally grumpy behaviour, lack of playfulness.
Licking a particular area. Look out for staining on their fur from constant licking.
Ms Shaw warns that because veterinary care has improved the health of our pets so they live much longer, owners may put certain behaviour down to them simply getting older.
“Just like humans, dogs are affected by ‘old age’ diseases. They might be a bit heavier than they should be, perhaps they don’t get enough exercise, and their joints can be affected.”
Osteoarthritis can be a particular problem. The good news is that treatments are advancing all the time.
And a ground-breaking treatment now available at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Water Street, Chorley, is helping dogs overcome what can be a challenging condition.
Until now, many pets have been treated using non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs which, while they help with pain, they don’t stop the condition. However, new ACP treatment, which uses the animal’s own stem cells, has been shown to actually stimulate growth around the affected joint.
The highly specialised new ACP treatment – only a handful of veterinary surgeries in the UK have access to it - can be used for other conditions too, including tendon tears, juvenile arthritis and auto immune arthritis.
Hillcrest Animal Hospital also offers a variety of other treatments, including herbal based remedies, acupuncture and swim therapy.
“We’re very passionate about ACP,” adds Ms Shaw. “It can really make a huge difference to a pet’s life.”
For more information visit https://www.hillcrestanimalhospital.co.uk/