Animals Talk: Why it is important to listenby Debbie Jones on 10/03/17
If you have pets, you have probably said to yourself, If only they could only tell me what they are thinking! This desire to communicate with our pets can be strong, especially when our pets are not feeling well. Animals are continuously communicating with us and by tuning in more with their subtle, and sometimes not so subtle communication styles, we can gain a greater understanding of what they are trying to share with us.
Our pets have very diverse ways of communicating. Our cats, dogs, birds and other animals have learned how to communicate with us by their physical mannerisms, eye contact, body movements and even their voices. Anyone who owns a dog knows the distinct difference between the, It is dinner time bark, and the, there is a strange car in our driveway!, bark. Beyond giving us a cue that they are hungry or warning us that there is a visitor, our pets also give us subtle cues when they are not feeling well, or they are experiencing physical or emotional discomfort.
In order to better understand what are pets are communicating, we should be mindful of mannerisms that are different from their normal day to day behavior. One of the first things that I notice when my pet is not feeling well is that they become restless - they pace, or just have an inability to get comfortable. They also may become irritable. Their irritability could be them reacting poorly when you try to show them affection, or they growl or hiss when you try to pick them up.
Changes in social behavior are also indications of discomfort. My dogs love their morning walks so when they are not interested in walking I watch their behavior more closely to see if this is just a one-time event of if they are showing other signs that they may not be feeling well. Also, losing interest in their favorite playtime activity losing interest in other animals in the house can be indications that something else is going on. The less subtle indications of illness or discomfort are changes in their eating or elimination habits. There is nothing worse than having a cat or dog use the living room carpet as their bathroom. Instead of scolding them, there may be a bigger message they are trying to tell us.
As always, if your pet starts showing behaviors that are uncharacteristic for them it is important to seek the advice of your veterinarian.