I’m frequently asked this question from the owners of orthopedic patients. Generally, these pets don’t vocalize (i.e. whine, whimper, groan, cry out). Pain is shown in more subtle ways: panting, hiding, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, a lack of grooming, and purring or hissing for cats. I try to help clients empathize with their pet’s lameness. Limping on a limb is sign of pain. If the limb was normal and nonpainful, there would be no lameness or discomfort.
At VRSP, we assess every patient preoperative and postoperatively using a numerical rating scale (NRS) ranging from 0-10. Zero is our nonpainful patient that’s eating, grooming, and eager to greet. Ten is a pet that is spontaneously crying out, aggressive, biting at the incision/wound; a pet in unrelenting pain. For owners, we recommend VAS- Visual Analog Scale. It relies on behavioral changes, body position, and is similar to what most people have used when rating their own pain. Simple and effective, exactly what owners are looking for. I didn’t finish the initial quote…”I don’t want him to be in any pain.” Helping our clients identify pain in their pets, it’s our first step in resolving that pain.