Have you noticed your older—or not-so-old!—pet slowing down? If your walks are shorter, her jumps are lower, and overall you’ve seen a decrease in activity, you may have a pet in pain.

Unfortunately, you can’t ask your dog or cat, “Does something hurt?” (Wouldn’t the world be wonderful if we could talk to our best friends this way?!). Not to mention, dogs and cats are masters of disguise when it comes to pain, and very rarely show you obvious symptoms like crying or favoring a leg. By comparison, they make us look like total wusses!

Cats and dogs are hunters, but are also prey species – when left feral, they are often harmed by other predators –so they have evolved to hide pain. This means that even excruciating pain will rarely result in loss of appetite or not walking.

Luckily, providing pain relief for your dog or cat is easy, safe, and can be pretty cheap! Depending on what’s causing the pain, there are supplements, medications, and therapies that can get him back to full speed in just a few weeks.

The first step is taking note of what exactly has changed at home – even small behavior and preference changes can mean a lot. Once you’ve noticed the change, bring her in for a checkup. With a careful hands-on exam, we can feel for signs of arthritis and check each area of the body to see if something is uncomfortable.

If we find an area that is painful, we can help you pick which treatment options will suit your pet’s lifestyle best. Sometimes is as simple as a small change in routine. About 1/3 of arthritic pets improve on a safe joint supplement (that comes in treat form, no less!).

Most often, pets experiencing chronic pain can be described as a dimmed-down version of themselves, or as “slowing down”. For dogs, this might mean shorter walks or less enthusiasm for games and toys. For cats, this might mean spending time in easier-to-reach parts of the house, or even problems with the litter box.

My own cat acts completely like himself when his arthritis is flaring up. He still jumps up onto the counter, pesters the dogs, and tries to sneak water from my bedside glass at night. The only way I know he’s out of sorts is watching him go up and down the stairs more slowly than normal.

This month is Animal Pain Awareness Month, and we are geared up to help any pets that need it, with a variety of supplements, medications, and special packages for laser pain treatments (we really love any excuse to say, “Bring out the LAAAAAZER!”).

If your pet is “slowing down” or you’ve seen a change in behavior, bring him in! We’ll help you get him back to full speed in no time!

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