What A Pain!

Magic in flowers

I’m injured! Because I get to work at home, there are certain perks I enjoy–such as going barefoot to work. But on Monday afternoon I happened to move too fast and kicked the whey outta my “pointer” toe (next to the big toe). This wasn’t just a stubbed toe, either–it lifted and peeled the nail back to the quick, bled everywhere and hurt like the devil! Yes, I said a few choice words as I hobbled down the stairs from my office (trying not to leave a bloody trail) to get bandage material. Ooooooh, that puppy throbbed and made me whimper and howl, let me tell you. And NO, I won’t show you a picture. I’m a-skairt to look at the injury myself.

Suddenly I understand how the Magical-Dawg felt a couple of year’s ago. After a run in the field playing fetch, Magic started shivering when he came inside. The ninety-degree weather argued that he was not chilled. I checked him head-to-tail, and found nothing wrong. But later in the week, he again started shivering, and even growled at me when I asked him to move—very uncharacteristic!

Finally, after several days and two vet visits, we figured out his problem. He’d torn a dewclaw back to the quick (it hadn’t come off so the injury remained hidden). Seren-kitty had this happen once, too, when her claw caught on bedding as she leaped from the pillow. She hid. But Magic’s short temper, shivers, and hyper-alert behavior resulted from being in pain.


Dogs in pain typically whimper, whine, cry, or yelp when touched. They may hold up an injured leg or limp and beg for attention. Feline pain symptoms look like fearful behavior, with the cat staying very still and quiet, or trembling. Cats often hide; when you touch them they nail you.

Some painful pets pace, become agitated and can’t get comfortable, pant or drool, or refuse to eat. Pets with a painful abdomen or back often assume a hunched posture, and painful eyes squint or water. I knew Magic’s symptoms indicated discomfort, but just couldn’t find the reason—and even the emergency veterinarian missed finding it, because the dog didn’t want to be examined. After all, dogs and cats can’t tell us what’s wrong, so we must be pet detectives to figure it out.

Pain tolerances vary from pet to pet just as in people. A one-size-fits-all program won’t work. Experts say there is a five-fold variation in pain tolerance for the same surgical procedure in humans. So if a condition would be painful in a person, you should assume it’s also painful in your pet.

Dang, I had no idea! My toe-throb injury kept me awake the first night despite multiple doses of Advil, and only now (three days later) has it subsided to a dull roar. I’m afraid to look under the BandAid. No more sparkly sandals for me this year–although the red nail polish sort of blends with the blood.

But pets require specific dosages and metabolize drugs differently than people—human pain medicines may be dangerous to pets. For example, dogs can develop ulcers from human-type aspirin products. Cats can DIE if given people- or dog-specific pain medicines. Pain control options from your veterinarian are always the best and safest choice for cats and dogs.

We took Magic to get his boo-boo fixed, and he was sedated, the torn nail clipped off, and antibiotics with pain meds prescribed. Pain is recognized as an important health issue for our furry family members. Providing proper pain medicine helps pets recover more quickly and completely.

It’s also the right thing to do.

Have your dogs ever needed pain medication–after surgery or an injury? How do you know when our pet hurts? And have you ever had an injury similar to your pets, like me? Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty have been quite attentive the past couple of days as I hobble around the house.


I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!


What A Pain! — 12 Comments

  1. Ouch! I feel for you. I broke my pinky toe and even though it’s healed I still have issues with it.

    And poor Magic! I hate when I see animals mutilated for what seems vanity but I have to say I’m always worried about the dew claws. Knock on wood, so far none of my fur babies have suffered such an injury.

    Hope your toe heals smoothy and quickly!

    • Thanks Raelyn. I agree with you on all counts. Some dog breeds are supposed to have dew claws intact, others removed–the GSD gets to keep them but with a rough-neck pet like Magic probably it would have been better to get rid of ’em when he was a baby.

      I plan to check under my toe-bandage later today. *shudder*

  2. Ouch!!! I hope you feel better soon! Thank you for talking about cat pain- so often it’s hard for owners to recognize. So any change in normal habits is cause for concern and reason to alert your veterinarian. And if there’s any pain, there are some approved and safe medications they can prescribe! And please, Please, PLEASE never give a cat or dog pain medications for people- so many are toxic and can cause more harm than the hurt.

    • Thanks for emphasizing the issue of CATS and people meds. Meee-ouch! Since this is “Woof Weds” I focused more on dog issues but the kitties have very special needs.

      Cats are NOT small dogs. Not only would they be insulted (harrumph!) they could be injured by well-meaning treatment based on dog-centric methods.

  3. OH NO!! You poor thing! i hope you are on the mend! Thankfully (knock on wood) I haven’t had to experience any pain issues with Dakota. I will definitely refer to this informative post in the event that I do! Feel better!

  4. Oh OUCH! I literally feel your pain: as I read your first paragraph, the pointer toe (never heard it called that before) on my right foot began to throb! Lucky for me it didn’t last, but sorry you can’t say the same. Hope you heal soon. I know it takes a while to regrow a toenail.

    I also loved your summation of pain in your forth paragraph and plan to quote you soon on my blog. I think your description of what to be on the alert for will help a lot of old and new pet people. Thanks so much!

    • I’m glad the summary was helpful. Thanks for the well wishes on my toe-jam problems. It’s actually better today. I took off the bandage (shudder!) and the end of the toe looks bruised/red but not black and blue like I feared. I can’t tell about the nail because the polish still hides any damage and I’m a-feared to use nail polish remover on what may be a raw wound. Leaving it open to the air today.

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