Animals are amazing. They seem to live by the popular cliche “keep calm and carry on”. So many of them go through life with issues that would have us, humans, complaining to anyone who will listen to us. Why is that? Humans are altruistic (help each other), work in groups and use language to ask for help. We don’t expect our fellow humans to eat us.
Pets evolved in a different world. Cats may be hunters, but other animals also hunt them…and eat them. The weakest dog in the pack isn’t allowed the prime food sources or resting places and may be attacked by others in the pack. Our pets are not programmed to show signs of pain unless they just can’t cope anymore. Showing signs of weakness is a sure ticket to a shortened lifespan.
Dental disease and arthritis are the most common things I see that tend to be missed by owners. Both of these conditions are subtle and painful in both dogs and cats. Addressing them properly can completely change the life of a pet. It is not uncommon for me to hear reports of “he is playing like a puppy again” or “she isn’t hiding under the bed anymore”. This is usually followed by “gee, I had no idea how bad he must have felt”.
So when your veterinarian sees signs of pain in your pet, they know it’s real.
Dogs don’t limp for attention, cats don’t leave their food because they are finicky and “getting old” is not a disease. There really is something wrong. Many times they will just change their behavior slightly such as sleeping more or eating less and you won’t realize that there is anything bothering them until the problem is resolved.
Listen to your veterinarian, (s)he is often the only advocate for our “silent sufferers”.