Keep an Eye on Your Pet's Behavior to Monitor His Health

Article excerpt

I hit my toe on the kitchen table leg last night. I don't know if I broke it or not but it sure did hurt.I put some ice on it, which helped, and limped around for the rest of the evening.

It didn't hurt as much in the morning but walking on it reminded me of my contact with the furniture.

Sometimes it's not so easy to know whenmy dogs are in pain.Cocoa, our rescue German shepherd, taught me a lot about being aware of a dog's physical state.

She had several physical conditions that were genetically based and needed to be monitored. While dealing with Cocoa's hip and spine problems, I met a veterinarian who gave my dog chiropractic and acupuncture treatments.

When Cocoa started to "bunny hop," running with her hind legs moving together, it was time for a chiropractic treatment.I had been taught how to read her body language.

According to, our dogs naturally hide their pain to protect themselves from predators, so they may be in distress without showing any obvious signs.We need to observe their behavior to help us manage their pain.The American Animal Hospital Association provides five clues to help us read our dogs' body language.

The first is abnormal chewing habits.If our pets are showing abnormal chewing habits,for example, dropping food or chewing food on one side of his mouth, he may have a mouth tumor or dental disorder. Additional clues may be excessive face rubbing, bad breath or weight loss.Routine dental checkups are important to treat and prevent dental disorders and related pain.

The second clue is drastic weight gain or loss.The AAHA notes pain directly influences your pet's weight and eating habits.Overweight animals have an increased chance of tearing ligaments and damaging joints.Pets with muscle soreness or arthritis may not want to access food because bending over is uncomfortable.

Arthritis pain may cause our pets to gain weight because their eating habits remain the same, but their exercise level is reduced.Pain can also cause our pets' to lose their appetite, leading to a weight loss.

Third is avoiding affection or handling.According to the AAHA, avoiding affection or handling may be a sign of a progressive disease such as osteoarthritis or intervertebral disc disease.Your dog may appear to be normal before handling or petting him, but the added pressure applied to his body may expose sensitive and painful areas. …