What is your pet trying to tell you?


Wouldn't it be nice if our pets could have a conversation with us about how they're feeling and what they need?  The thing is, they do - it's just a non-verbal conversation that requires us to listen to their cues in a different way.

Dogs will tell us they're stressed with various behaviors. This can include pacing, shaking, whining or barking either to alert us or to self-sooth. Yawning, licking, panting, drooling and shedding are visual cues we can easily pick up on. There may be changes in their eyes and ears, for example, they may open their eyes wide and their pupils may dilate. Rapid blinking is also an indicator your dog is in stress. Watch their posture and body stance too. A scared dog may tuck their tail, or become rigid, or will shift their weight to their rear legs. Our pets often share some of our own stress relief behaviors such as hiding or escaping the immediate situation. Their nerves can suddenly trigger the urge to go to the bathroom.


To help relieve your dog's stress, remove them from the situation by finding a quiet place for them to self-soothe.  Exercise and activity are great stress reducers. Go for a walk or toss a ball around. 


Some of the same signs your dog is in stress can indicate he is also in pain. If your dog howls, growls, snarls or yelps for no visible reason, it could be an indication that something is wrong.


Indicators of an underlying health issue could include loss of appetite, drinking less water, sleeping more than usual, displaying uncharacteristically aggressive behaviors, trembling, or shaking. If your pet is showing any of these signs, it would be a good idea to have them checked by your veterinarian.


Cats talk to us differently when they're stressed or in pain. Licking themselves raw or bald or displaying excessive scratching, can be signs of distress and you should have them examined by your veterinarian. Does your cat suddenly hide from you in a dark, isolated place or display a panicked meow? Is he suddenly aggressive toward you or other people, or even other animals? These can all be signs that something isn't right and your veterinarian can help pinpoint the cause.

Here's a list of 25 signs that your cat may be in pain. Don't attempt over the counter medications. Instead, get them into your veterinarian as quickly as possible for expert help.

  • Lameness (limping)

  • Difficulty jumping

  • Abnormal gait

  • Reluctance to move

  • Reaction to palpation (touching)

  • Being withdrawn or hiding

  • Lack of self-grooming

  • Playing less

  • Appetite decrease

  • Overall activity decrease

  • Rubbing themselves on people less

  • General mood change

  • Temperament change

  • Hunched-up posture

  • Shifting weight when standing, lying down or walking

  • Licking a particular body region

  • Lower head posture

  • Squinting

  • Change in feeding behavior

  • Avoiding bright areas

  • Growling

  • Groaning

  • Eyes closed

  • Straining to urinate

  • Tail flicking 



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