Seven signs that your dog is in pain

For many people, their dog is their best friend. You share your home with them and know your faithful companion from head to toe.

But it doesn’t matter how in sync you are with your pet, it may sometimes be challenging to understand whether they are feeling under the weather.

Depending on their character, some dogs will let you know that they are in pain in a blatant way, whereas others will act stoic and manifest fewer signs of suffering. In fact, not only do dogs arguably cope better with pain than humans, but they may also try to conceal their discomfort as a natural survival instinct.   

Trethowans
Trethowans

However, with your dog’s normal attitude in mind, you may be able to spot changes in their attitude which indicate that something is wrong. Here are seven key signs and symptoms that suggest your pet may be in pain.

1) They are more vocal

You may sometimes find yourself chatting to your dog and, more often than not, they will answer back with a bark or a yelp. But persistent barking and whining should raise alarm bells. If they make them at random, in response to being touched or to a certain movement, they may be trying to tell you that something hurts. Gently examine their body and try to figure out where the pain is coming from.  

Equally, if your dog is generally quite vocal and suddenly turns quiet, they may be experiencing some discomfort. Ultimately, you know what your dog is like – a change in behaviour may suggest that they are feeling unwell.

2) They are panting

Panting is fairly standard in dogs, but could be a cause for concern if it happens repeatedly and for no apparent reason. 

If your pet starts panting in a cool room or during the night, it could be a clear pain pointer, especially if accompanied by trembling. Indeed, pain can affect your dog’s breathing and accelerate their respiratory rate.

3) They are refusing to take the stairs

Moving up or down the stairs puts weight on a dog’s front or back legs, depending on the direction your companion is going. If in pain, your dog may downright refuse to take the stairs. They may stand on the landing and look up and down the stairs, possibly barking in frustration.

As they get older, some dogs will start suffering from arthritis. From medications such as Metacam to alternative treatments, your vet will be able to advise on the best cure plan for your faithful friend.

4) They are standing up with front legs first

Most pooches stand up with the help of their rear legs first. But if your dog is having problems with their hindquarters, it will make this simple action tricky and painful. 

To avoid this, they will try to pull themselves up with their front legs, which fundamentally is not normal. This behaviour may indicate pain-causing issues such as arthritis or even hip dysplasia.

5) They have lost their appetite

We know how much dogs love their food; they are always in search of treats and snacks. So if your dog is experiencing a decrease in appetite, it may be because they are in some sort of pain. 

In fact, a loss of appetite may point to issues such as oral discomfort or stomach ailment. In this respect, there are several symptoms that may reveal whether your dog is suffering from an upset tummy. Some of the signs are nausea, vomiting, excessive drooling, diarrhoea, and constipation.

6) They are grooming excessively

Dogs like a good wash from time to time. However, if you notice that your loyal friend keeps licking or chewing a specific area with some insistence, then it could be due to a cut or a painful irritation. The latter may actually be caused by discomfort in their joints.

Moreover, intense biting or licking could be a sign that your pet is suffering from painfully infected or blocked anal glands. Therefore, it is worth taking a trip to the vet if your dog has the habit of grooming excessively.

7) You notice changes in their temperament

Nobody knows your dog better than you do. If they usually like to cuddle and snuggle up, sudden avoidance behaviours should ring alarm bells, for they are a common trait in dogs that are in pain. Similarly, dogs that generally tend to shy away from contact may instead seek more attention when feeling unwell. 

Furthermore, aching pets could become a bit aggressive. They may even bite if touched in an area that hurts. In fact, it is an animal’s natural instinct to protect themselves from increased discomfort.

Make sure you get the help your dog needs

Ultimately, there are several subtle symptoms from which a dog owner can deduce whether their pet is in pain. If you suspect your faithful friend is in discomfort, be sure to get professional advice from your vet.

With an accurate diagnosis, they will be able to prescribe the correct treatment, and your dog will hopefully be back to their normal self soon.

Photo by fatty corgi