Originally Posted by yann
I was under the impression that if an organism is a vertebrate, it would feel pain. Or are we discussing the combination of emotional suffering with physical pain?
Also animals do not have the various kinds of stigma that we humans have with pain. For example, when we see a needle or think of a needle we instinctively imagine that stabbing sensation and the pain that courses through our arm. But animals do not have that stigma attached to the sight of a needle, so while they may feel a poke, they probably don't "feel" it as much as we do. I base this upon observation working at an animal hospital for the past year and a half. Most don't even bat an eye when I poke em with needles for blood draws or vaccines.
The vets I work with also said that animals are a lot tougher than us. I think this is true too..obviously this is a more subjective opinion rather than an objective one so you can disregard this if you like. But while us humans know how to communicate by language and know exactly the right things to say or do to gain attention when we are in physical stress, animals do not. I'm not very knowledgeable about the science of animal behavior, but my understanding thus far is that animals endure physical pain better than humans. We might just as well be experiencing the exact same pain, but our reaction would be different simply because of the different nature of us humans as opposed to say, a dog or cat. We want to be nurtured and we want the attention and we feel it best to show the people around us the pain we are feeling so we can get better; animals on the other hand don't exactly work that way.
Feel free to oppose this opinion though, since I just wrote this off the top of my head and I know there are a lot of ambiguity and generalizations and lack of scientific facts/data.
Gotta say though, I am loving this topic.
I don't have the dog and cat experience you do, so I can't speak to that, but I will add my equine perspective.
Have you ever seen a horse rear up when the needle comes out on their 3rd day of daily iv or im shots? I've seen all sorts of variations of reactions horses have with seeing the cap come off a needle, from nothing (hopefully), to a "I'm going to kill you if I need to to get out of here" reaction. I absolutely believe horses have the ability to associate a needle with the pain of the stick. What you can see is the first time you do something, they don't react until the pain is actually occuring. We can't speak to them and say, "this is going to hurt a bit", so I wouldn't assume an animal is going to scared before it first experiences something. The reasons humans can be afraid before we acutally experience something, is because we've told something will (or even might) hurt and it makes us emotional
I do think it is too easy to generalize that an animal (and I'm specifically refering to domesticated animals/pets) doesn't feel pain the way we do, just because we don't have the ability to understand what they are telling us. And many animals will put up with a lot (just like stoic human patients; if you didn't ask, "what is your pain level?" You may assume they don't feel pain like you or "I' do)
I think this specific topic (my first paragraph) is more of a debate of animal intelligence than their ability to feel pain.