Dogs may hide their pain
It’s helpful to use an assessment tool when implementing a pain management protocol. Below is an example of a scale you could use to help guide your patient assessment.1
Canine Acute Pain Scale1
Not bothered by touch to wound or surgical site
Interested in surroundings
May whimper when wound is touched
Content to slightly unsettled
May whimper or cry; might lick or rub surgical site when unattended
Not eager to interact with people or surroundings
May appear worried (droopy ears, arched eyebrows, darting eyes)
Reluctant to respond when called
Appears uncomfortable when resting
May bite or chew at surgical site
May be unwilling to move
May growl, cry or threaten to bite
Restless, crying, groaning
Reacts aggressively to any touch; pulls away
May bite or chew at surgical site, but unlikely to move
May react aggressively to touch to surgical site
Constant groaning or screaming
May cry at non-painful touch
Difficult to distract from pain
Adapted from reference
*Reassess analgesic plan
Help dog owners recognize the signs of postsurgical pain
Let your clients know the signs of pain they should watch for once they get home. Advise them to contact you if they answer yes to any of the following questions.
- Does your dog whimper, growl, cry or moan when left alone, petted or moved?
- Does the surgical incision look red or inflamed?
- Is your dog protecting, licking or biting the surgical site?
- Does your dog seem unwilling to move?
- Is your dog less interested in playing?
- Is your dog eating less than usual?