This is a question that I get asked a lot as a vet. Most people believe that if their pet is in pain it will cry out and make it very obvious. In some cases this will occur, but in most they will not.
Now I like to think that I am a pretty good mountain biker with a few podium finishes to my name. Many of you may disagree, citing the number of times I have crashed and either broken my bike or ended up in hospital with broken bones. This is a fair point, and I must admit I can't remember a time when I woke in the morning and something didn't hurt, ranging from a mild ache through to debilitating pain.
But, do I cry out and complain about the pain? Well, to my wife, yes, but by the time I get to work I simply do things very slowly or avoid doing things altogether that cause pain. Now I know what you are thinking. Didn't he start off talking about animals in pain, not middle-aged men on mountain bikes who should have grown up by now?
Stick with me.
You see our pets do exactly the same when they are in pain. They do things like standing up much slower than they used to, or avoid jumping up on the bed anymore. If your pet limps, then the most likely reason for this is pain.
I have had knee surgery myself (I told you I was accident prone) and some days I develop a limp. Why do I limp? Because it hurts. If your cat jumps on the chair then onto the table, rather than one leap like she used to, or waits at the bottom of the stairs for you to carry her up, she could be in pain. Likewise, if you just about have to pull your dog along for a walk, rather than him dragging you along, it may be a sign he is uncomfortable.
Pets are very good at masking pain, so even your vet may be unsure if they are uncomfortable. Often I will try a pet on anti-inflammatory/pain relief medication. If the pet is happier and more active on the medication it tells us the reason for its inactivity was pain.
Now many of you will know my dog, Breeze. You will have either seen her at the vet clinic, or with me getting Sushi in the Bay. (It is so hard now, with two great Sushi shops in the Bay, to know which one to choose!) She has had both knees operated on and has an arthritic elbow. She is now on permanent medication. On it, she still enjoys chasing her ball and swimming at Piha. Without medication she will limp and not run as much.
She will, however, never complain.
My name is Lance Eastman and I am the local vet here in Blockhouse Bay.
I first started working in the Bay in 1997 and tried to escape overseas for awhile but eventually ended up back where I started.
I did return with a Scottish wife, Jacqueline who is also a vet and my business partner at the clinic.
I have been writing articles on matters related to pets for over ten years now. Sometimes I run out of ideas and get my dog "Breeze" or my cat "Radish" to write something for me. Most people prefer to read these articles over what I write but it can be hard to motivate your pets to write sometimes.