How To Tell If Your Dog Is In Pain And What To Do To Help

Is your dog in pain? (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Some dogs will let you know when they’re in pain, but others act more stoic. Dogs are generally thought to have a higher tolerance for pain than humans, and some dogs will try to hide their pain as a natural survival instinct.

Many of the signs that a dog is in pain are subtle, so it’s easier to recognize them if you know what’s normal with your pet. Being aware of your dog’s normal activities and behavior will help you recognize changes that might indicate pain.

Here are some things to look for when your furry baby isn’t acting like himself:

Limping

One of the most straightforward symptoms of pain is limping. This can be a sign of injury, sore paw, or even a reaction to the pain associated with arthritis. If the dog is reluctant to go up stairs, is slow to get up in the morning, or walks stiffly, it may be arthritis pain (especially if your dog is older). Many dogs suffer from arthritis, but there are ways to help ease the pain. Ask your vet about medications and other treatments.

Mobility issues and changes in posture are also indicators of a problem that needs medical attention.

Vocalization

The closest thing to speaking for a dog is whining and whimpering and a dog that cries out in pain is trying to tell you that something hurts bad. Carefully examining your dog’s body may help you discover where the pain is.

A dog that is usually vocal may become quiet when it is in pain which is why it’s important to be familiar with your dog’s normal behavior.


Stomach Ache Or Loss of Appetite

It’s not always easy to recognize tummy troubles in a dog but here are some signs: excessive drooling can indicate nausea, an animal with stomach problems may vomit, suffer from constipation, or have diarrhea.

If a dog is hurting they are less likely to eat normally. Watch for loss of appetite that might indicate pain from a stomach ailment, oral discomfort, or other conditions. If it lasts more than a day, a visit to the vet is in order.

Panting

Excessive panting, especially when accompanied by trembling, can be a signal that your dog is in pain. While panting is fairly normal for dogs, if they are panting at odd times or for no reason. If you notice your dog panting in the middle of the night or in an airconditioned room, check for other indications of pain. Pain can cause changes in breathing, including an irregular respiratory rate.

Restlessness Or Change In Sleep Habit

A dog with pain can be restless and exhibit an inability to get comfortable and lay still. Pacing, repeatedly readjusting position or getting up and down frequently are all good cause for concern. Sleep patterns can be affected as well. A dog in pain might sleep more than usual or could have difficulty sleeping.


Behavior And Temperament

Pain can change a dog’s behavior and just like a human, a dog can be grouchy when in pain. Some dogs become more aggressive and may even bite, especially when touched in an area that hurts. It’s the animal’s natural instinct to protect themselves to prevent further pain.

Avoidance behaviors, like shying away from contact with people and other pets are common when a dog is in pain. If your dog normally enjoys being touched and is suddenly making moves to avoid your touch, pain may be the culprit. This is sometimes coupled with depression, lethargy, and mental dullness.

Other dogs may seek more attention and act needy when in pain. Any radical or sudden behavior changes are a clear indication that your dog needs medical attention from a vet.

It’s so important to keep your dog from suffering and to keep minor problems from becoming major ones. Be gentle, and don’t make the pain worse while you’re attempting to locate the cause.

Do not medicate your dog yourself. Human medications for pain and inflammation are dangerous and can be toxic for an animal, especially in the wrong dosage or when combined with other medications.

There are many reasons the animal could be in pain, and some of them might indicate a more serious issue. Chronic pain triggers like arthritis can be managed well with medical help.

If you suspect that your dog is in pain, don’t hesitate to get professional help from your veterinarian right away.

Related Articles:

Pain Management With Dogs

Pain In Animals: What They Aren’t Telling You

Dog Arthritis Treatments