It seems that there is an intuitive sense that our pets have some sense of awareness of pain. Dogs do not want to be hit, and when they are in trouble they are reluctant to come to that punishment (which I have seen in my dogs in the past). However, there is the significant theological/philosophical problem of animal suffering, so it’s understandable why many would question if animals other than humans or higher primates can actually suffer rather than be, like the philosopher Rene Descartes thought, they are only responsive like machines are.
Some time ago the famous apologist William Lane Craig argued in a debate (video here) that non-primates do not suffer, in particular saying that those creatures do not have a prefrontal cortex. Which, as was pointed out by everyone that knows about brains, is utter bollocks. One of the best presentation on this and the scientific consensus that animals are aware of pain and do suffer was in this video.
Very thorough and referenced including talking to the scientists that study this. Also, the video was viewed by the neuroscientists in question for accuracy to make sure it represented the stance of the field correctly. Apparently Bill Craig responded to this video and run in contradiction to what he said before on the subject as well as the science. And so the same producers of the above video beautifully responded.
The take-away message: Craig is wrong, animals do appear to actually suffer, and Craig doesn’t want this to be true and won’t fess up to being wrong about every substantial point. But another reason I don’t trust apologists when it comes to facts.