Is My Dog in Pain? Is My Cat in Pain? Simple Answers to an Important Question

Mar 3, 2020

This Grumpy Cat might be exhibiting signs of pain with partially closed eyes. Her ears and whisker position tell a different story. Erect ears and a relaxed whisker position show that instead of pain, this kitty might just be ready for a nap.

How can you tell if your cat is in pain? Good question!

There is a new Feline Grimace Scale that helps pet owners find ways to indicate their pets are in pain. This pain scale is simple for anyone to use! Researchers at the University of Montreal found a few facial expressions that indicate pain levels that ranged from zero pain to pain levels that needed emergency analgesia. Here’s a look at the Feline Grimace Scale in action:

The cat on the left shows zero pain. The cat featured in the center photo shows moderate or uncertain levels of pain. The cat on the right is in dire need of pain management.

The Feline Grimace scale is super easy to use and something you might consider keeping on your fridge to gauge whether or not you’re worried about your kitty.

Colorado State University’s Feline Acute Pain Scale has long been the gold standard of pain indication in veterinary medicine. Some hints of pain included on this scale are: cat crying, hissing, growling, playing less, unsettled pet, hiding, hunching, lameness, inability or lack of desire for grooming themselves resulting in an unkempt coat. These are all indications that something isn’t right and your cat should see a veterinarian at Riverside Animal Clinic & Holistic Center. “If you notice any of those symptoms, it’s possible your cat has been ill for a longer time than you think. Cats have a way of hiding their pain from their owners and cues they give you in the start are subtle, not always outright or loud,” said Jim D. Carlson, DVM CVA CVTP, holistic veterinarian and owner of Riverside Animal Clinic & Holistic Center in McHenry, Illinois. Be watching for early changes in behavior such as a cat who routinely greets you at the door but suddenly doesn’t show up anymore. Or, a cat with a previously beautiful coat that’s going neglected. That’s a reason to visit the vet.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is In Pain?

Again the gold standard of canine pain indication is contained in the Colorado State University Canine Acute Pain Scale. This incredibly handy chart is important to any veterinarian or pet owner. Do you have a senior pet? This could help you tremendously if you’re worried about your pet. Some of the noted behavior changes in dogs experiencing pain include: a general change in expression, whimpering, droopy ears, or being slightly unsettled or restless. While those apply to the beginning stages of a pain issue, the later stages are very obvious with crying out, groaning and difficulty distracting your pet from pain.

“If you can learn to recognize the symptoms of pain early on, you may find a way to work with your veterinarian to help pinpoint a problem before it gets out of control,” said Dr. Carlson. “Many cases can be like that and we all want to prevent our beloved pets from feeling pain.”

If you’re worried about your pet or just concerned about a behavior change, lack of energy or vitality, you should have your pet examined. We have some simple booking methods on live chat now at Thanks for looking and let’s keep your pet pain free! Dr. Carlson

McHenry-9/010/12, Mon./Riverside Animal Clinic Joe Shuman/For MM
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