Cedar Pet Clinic Blog

Pain Awareness Month: What Do You Need to Know?

Wouldn’t life be easier if our pets could tell us about their aches and pains? Unfortunately, until they master our language, our ability to identify an animal in pain relies on observation alone. Yet we find many pet parents aren’t sure what signs to look for to determine if their pets are suffering from illness or injury.

September has been proclaimed Pain Awareness Month, dedicated to identifying, diagnosing, and treating pain in pets and people. As veterinary professionals, we’re committed to helping pet owners interpret the actions and behaviors that may communicate their companion is experiencing pain. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about pain in your furry family members.

The Pain Our Pets Experience

In the animal world, vulnerability can be the difference between life and death. Because pain can be a sign of weakness, pets are hardwired to disguise their discomfort. While cats are characterized as aloof and unbothered, dogs can be just as stoic. This leaves humans at a disadvantage when recognizing our pets aren’t feeling their best.

Pain is Categorized into Acute Pain or Chronic Pain

Acute pain is often sharp and short-lived. It is a response from the nerves to the brain that something is wrong and to stop further damage to the body. When experiencing acute pain, an animal usually can’t focus on anything else.

Chronic or long-term pain is typically duller than acute pain. Still, the constant aches and soreness can drain the fun out of day-to-day activities for many pets.

While both forms of pain are very serious, often chronic pain is more challenging to recognize. People may overlook signs of chronic pain or mislabel symptoms as the natural progression of aging. And the cause and symptoms of long-term pain can develop gradually, making them harder to spot.

Why Does Recognizing and Treating Pain Matter?

Effective treatment of pain is vital for the wellbeing of your pet. Acute pain can signal a serious injury like a ligament sprain, broken bone, or severe internal damage. As for chronic pain, when your pet is always feeling aches and soreness, they cannot enjoy all the fun, love, and happiness you provide. As a pet owner, you’re the only chance your pet has to find relief from pain.

What Are the Signs of Pain in Pets?

We will ask you questions about your pet’s day-to-day experiences with pain during your pet’s annual exam, especially as they grow older. But don't wait until a yearly appointment if your pet is exhibiting symptoms of pain now.

Do Not Ignore These Signs of Pain

Acute Pain:

  • Yelping
  • Crying
  • Whining
  • Whimpering
  • Limping
  • Drooling
  • Hunching
  • Difficulty getting around
  • Squinting or winking
  • Panting
  • Aggression

Chronic Pain:

  • Withdrawing from social interaction
  • Hiding
  • Difficulty participating in activities 
  • Hesitating when walking or climbing steps
  • Limping
  • Reduced appetite
  • Eating slower
  • Changes in bathroom behavior
  • Vocalizing
  • Increased sleeping and lethargy

If you suspect your pet may be in pain, we encourage you to make an appointment right away. The sooner we can diagnose your pet, the sooner they can feel better. Additionally, early diagnosis often means a shorter recovery period and more effective treatments.

Find the Right Pain Relief for Your Pet

Pain does not have to be permanent. With medication, physical therapy, supplements, and changes to diet and habits, your pet can feel better, no matter the cause of their pain.

We offer a wide array of treatments to restore your pet’s mobility, comfort, and joy. From surgery to pain medications, we’ll partner with you through the process and provide our knowledge and expertise on your pet’s condition so you can make an informed decision. Give your pet relief from pain and make an appointment today.

Photo Credit: Helena Lopes / Pexels

7 Must-Dos for a Happy Healthy Cat

Those of us with pet cats know that our feline friends are the unsung heroes of our homes. They keep our laps warm, make sure we remember to pet and feed them, greet us when we arrive home, and provide us with hours and hours of companionship.

To return the favor and provide your little kitty hero with as much joy as they give you, we have some simple tips. These are sure to extend your kitty’s purr, provide them with a healthy life, and keep them happy for years to come.

How Can You Pamper Your Cat with Good Health?

1. Provide Your Cat with the Purrfect Diet and Keep Them Hydrated

Your cat’s health depends on a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight. When choosing your cat’s food, be sure you choose a high-quality formula and read the ingredients list. Dry and canned food with higher levels of animal protein are better for your feline friend.

Wild cats receive most of their hydration from consuming live prey, and they naturally have a low thirst drive. In domestic cats, this can lead to a higher risk of urinary problems if they don’t drink enough water. Canned foods provide a higher level of hydration and can make a huge impact on your cat’s health. Leaving out extra water bowls or investing in a water fountain can encourage your cat to drink more frequently.

Feed your cat a diet tailored to their needs. If you need help deciding what food is best for your cat, we are here to help. From diets designed for urinary health to those made to fit the needs of a senior feline, we can help you find the perfect regimen for your cat.

2. Playtime is the Secret Ingredient for a Happy Cat

While cats seem aloof and independent, they still need fun and games to enrich their lives. Engaging in play and exercise allows your cat to maintain muscle tone, use their brain, and form a stronger bond with you. Elevating your cat’s heart rate and keeping them active helps burn excess calories, as well. All of these benefits create a recipe for a longer life, less anxiety, and can delay or lessen signs of dementia.

3. Provide Your Cat with Parasite Prevention

It’s hard to enjoy life when you’re scratching at fleas. While the fleas and ticks you find in their fur create a world of mental and physical discomfort for your cat, prevention for internal parasites, like heartworm, is equally as important to their health and happiness.

All of these problematic pests can be deadly when left unchecked, and frighteningly, there is no cure or treatment for heartworms in cats. Luckily, prevention is easy and effective. Not sure if an oral, topical, or injectable preventative is right for your furry friend? Call us with your questions and we’ll be happy to help you find the right solution for your cat.

4. Keep the Litter Box Clean

Cats are naturally clean animals with sensitive noses, so most prefer a sparkling clean litter box. Scooping your cat’s waste daily and periodically washing the box can improve your cat’s relationship with their toilet. Daily maintenance also helps keep you aware of any issues with their urinary and digestive systems.

If you notice signs of blood in your cat’s urine or stool, make an appointment right away. We also want to know if your cat suddenly begins boycotting their box and having accidents around your house. Both of these can be signs of serious internal issues, like infections.

5. Have Your Cat Spayed or Neutered

Having your cat altered improves their life significantly. Spaying female cats reduces the occurrence of breast tumors and uterine infections. Neutering a male cat prevents testicular cancer and reduces the likelihood of prostate problems. Furthermore, when your cat is fixed, they lose the drive to escape outdoors to mate. And male cats are much less likely to develop destructive spraying tendencies.

6. Put Away Potential Poisons

Protect your cat’s health by staying vigilant about potential poisons. These include herbicides, rodenticides, medications, and house plants. When it comes to these common household items, your cat is always safer when you keep them out of paw’s reach.

7. Comb Your Cat

Your cat probably spends hours grooming themselves. This doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate your help by combing and stroking them, too. Cats groom one another as a means of socializing and bonding and most love when humans get in on the fun. Regularly brushing your cat reduces hairballs, untangles knots in long-haired cats, and keeps you mindful of any lumps, bumps, or dermatological issues that may pop up.

Don’t Skip Your Cat’s Annual Exam This Year

August 22nd is a great day to be a cat. Why? It’s Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, a day dedicated to reminding cat parents that their kitties need annual exams to ensure long, healthy lives. We hope you’ll celebrate your cat by making an appointment. Nothing beats celebrating a good bill of health and knowing that your cat has everything they need to continue to enjoy life with you.

Photo Credit: Nitiphonphat / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Tips to Beat the Heat and Keep Your Pet Safe This Summer

You’ll see plenty of hot dogs on the grill this time of year, but you don’t want a hot canine or cat. As summer comes into full swing, rising temperatures pose a serious risk to pets. Heat makes it easier for your pet to become injured, ill, or worse.

As you’re planning your summer fun, keep in mind that your pets don’t experience the heat the same way we do. Here are our top hot tips to keep your pet safe all summer long.

Keep Their Core Temperature Down

Heatstroke is a serious concern during the summer. Owners may accidentally put their pets in danger, believing that dogs and cats are built to tolerate outdoor heat. This is simply not the case for many breeds, and a shift in only two degrees can send a dog to the ER.

Also known as heat stress, heatstroke occurs when a pet’s temperature gets too high, and their body can’t bring it back down on its own. This can result in issues with their nervous system, cause seizures, and potentially put them in a coma.

To prevent your dog or cat from suffering heat stroke:

  • Always provide access to ample cool, clean water
  • Don’t leave your dog or cat outside during the middle of the day
  • Alter your walk schedule to mornings and evenings to avoid the midday sun
  • Provide your pet with a shady place to escape the heat 
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended in the car

If you think your pet’s suffering from heatstroke, cool them off with a damp towel or in a lukewarm shower, as cold water can send your pet into shock. Provide them with plenty of cool water and seek medical help immediately.

The Floor is Made of Lava--Or It At Least Feels Like It

Our pets’ paws are vulnerable. They don’t wear shoes, and their paw pads are a vital component for regulating their body temperature. Walking on a hot sidewalk or road can feel like torture to a dog or cat. And if their pads get burned, you can bet the pain is multiplied.

Check your dog’s or cat’s paws every few days for cracks or blisters. If you see any visible signs of damage, take it easy while they heal and limit outdoor activity.

To avoid burnt paws

  • Try to walk your dog on the grass and in the shade
  • Test the surface with your hand. If it’s too hot to hold your hand there for five to ten seconds, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on. 
  • Watch for signs of discomfort. If your dog keeps switching paws as you stand, it’s too hot.

We’re always happy to look at your pet’s paws if you think they’re hurting from the heat. If you suspect your dog or cat scorched their feet, immediately bring them home and soak their paws in water, then give us a call.

Give Your Pet Plenty of Opportunities to Cool Off

Whether you’re on a walk or just enjoying some sunshine in the backyard, take breaks in the shade and offer them a drink. Even if it’s just a quick stroll, bring water and a travel bowl and let your dog set the pace. One of the best things about summer is the heat gives you an excuse not to rush.

If you’re looking for fun summer activities, try making fun, frozen recipes for your furry friend. Frozen fish pops may not sound tasty to you, but we bet your cat would love them. Cold treats like these help your pet cool off from the inside out.

Some pets may not let you know that they need to cool off. Bring your dog or cat into the house to enjoy a bit of air conditioning if you notice yourself sweating. If you’re hot, your pet probably is too.

Even if they’re shorthaired, brush your cat or dog regularly to remove excess fur that may keep them overly insulated. Some breeds depend on their coat to keep them cool, so check with your veterinarian first before bringing them to the groomer for a shave.

Don’t Risk Your Pet’s Life and Health

We hope these tips help keep your summer filled with fun and joy. Treat your pet to good health during these hot months by protecting them from heatstroke and scalding sidewalks. We may love hot dogs, but keep your pets cool.

Photo Credit: danaibe12 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)