Signs That an Animal Might Be Abused

Recognizing cruelty is simple, right? Not quite. Aggressive, timid or fearful behavior doesn’t always tell the whole story. Animals may appear to be timid or frightened for many reasons other than abuse.

Physical Signs

  • Collar so tight that it has caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck
  • Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn’t being treated
  • Untreated skin conditions that have caused loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes
  • Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible
  • Fur infested with fleas, ticks or other parasites
  • Patches of bumpy, scaly skin rashes
  • Signs of inadequate grooming, such as extreme matting of fur, overgrown nails and dirty coat
  • Weakness, limping or the inability to stand or walk normally
  • Heavy discharge from eyes or nose
  • An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
  • Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness

Environmental Signs

  • Pets are tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water, or with food or water that is unsanitary
  • Pets are kept outside in inclement weather without access to adequate shelter
  • Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them
  • Animals are housed in kennels or cages (very often crowded in with other animals) that are too small to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements possibly with too many other animals


If you see signs of animal abuse, don’t keep it to yourself. Report it.

  • Calgary Police Service, 403-266-1234
  • Humane Society, 403-205-4455
  • City of Calgary Animal Services, 311
  • Alberta SPCA, 1-800-455-9003 (rural Alberta)

Information reprinted with permission of ASPCA website