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Pets don’t complain about pain

It’s a strange thing, but whereas some people will winge and fuss about having a problem or pain, pets very often do not. This can be very confusing for their owner carers. How can you know when a pet needs help if they don’t tell you?

I see examples of this regularly. A loving cat owner had arranged a routine claw clip with one of my nurses. Amber was in her later years, and the owner had noticed that she was making more of a clacking noise as she crossed the lino flooring, so brought her in.

The nurse was horrified to find blood on the first paw. Looking closer she discovered poor Amber had been walking, without so much as a limp, with one of her own claws curved round and embedded into her own pad! A more thorough inspection revealed three claws on different paws were actually affected, and I was called in to perform the task of very carefully trimming these back to the correct length and treating the resulting infected wounds in the pads.

We often comment how good rabbits are at concealing any pain they may be experiencing. There is a great deal of evolutionary pressure not to seem the weak one in a group, so I can understand why they are such great actors, but it does not help them get brisk veterinary attention.

But perhaps my own dog Jasmine was the best example. One day she woke me with hot pants of foul breath on my face. I was horrified to find that the stink was coming from a broken tooth, which had gone rotten. It must have taken two months or so to go from being just a broken tooth to being such an infected rotten tooth, and yet, at no point during that time had I got an inkling that she had a problem.

Luckily, it was a simple task to remove the tooth root and remnants and cure her problem, but I cannot help feeling sad for the pain she must have felt until she found a way to communicate her issues to me!

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