How Do I Know If My Dog Is In Pain?

by | Jul 27, 2021 | Dog Health

Just like humans, dogs also feel pain. Pain alerts the body of possible harm or injury. But due to their stoic nature, dogs tend to mask their pain. Silently bearing the pain isn’t always a good thing, though. After all, pain that goes by undetected or untreated could lead to a more serious health condition.

As such, dog owners need to keep a close eye on their pets to see if they’re in pain. This blog will explore all the things you need to know about dog pain, including its signs, causes, and treatment options.

What Causes Pain in Dogs?

Your dog can feel pain due to several reasons. It can depend on the type of pain and its severity. Some dogs experience acute pain, which stems from an injury or illness and only lasts for a short period. Other dogs, however, may suffer from chronic pain that could arise from an underlying condition.

The pain can also be mild or severe. As mentioned earlier, pain can stem from injuries such as sprains, strains, or damages in the bones, joints, or soft tissues. It can also come from underlying health conditions, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Back problems
  • Cancer
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Dental diseases
  • Ear, skin, and urinary tract infections
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Intervertebral disk disease
  • Neurological illnesses
  • Nonmalignant neuropathies or myopathies 

The pain could also arise from a previous injury or after surgery. Regardless of the cause, it’s always best to reach out to your vet if your dog is in pain.

How Can I Tell If My Dog is in Pain?

Since most dogs tend to suffer in silence because they’re unable to tell you how they feel, you’ll need to pay attention to their body language and behavior. Take note of any noticeable changes in your dog’s body and behavior to help your vet determine your dog’s condition.

Below, we’ve listed the most common signs a dog is in pain

Physical Signs of Pain in Dogs

One of the most common indicators of pain in dogs is their physical appearance. When your dog is in pain, you’ll notice visible changes in its body and posture. You may notice the following symptoms:

  • Arched back
  • Heavy panting
  • Hunched stance
  • Labored breathing
  • Rigid or twitching muscles
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Swelling in any body part (i.e., face, legs, paws)

Always pay attention to body language. For instance, if your dog takes shallow breaths, it could mean that breathing is painful. Trembling, on the other hand, could be a sign of a serious condition like poisoning, kidney disease, or pancreatitis.

Behavioral Signs of Pain in Dogs

You may also notice changes in your dog’s behavior if they’re experiencing pain symptoms. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Aggression
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Aversion to touch
  • Difficulty eating
  • Excessive licking
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Excessive barking
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness

Some of these signs could just be normal dog behavior so it could be somewhat difficult to spot. But keep in mind that signs of pain usually deviate from your pet’s usual behavior. 

Mobility Signs of Pain in Dogs

If your dog is in pain, it will struggle to move and may even choose not to move at all. Sometimes, the inactivity could be caused by an injury or underlying condition like arthritis. Other signs of pain related to mobility include:

  • Lameness or limping
  • Slowness or difficulty walking
  • Difficulty lying down and getting up
  • Inability to jump or exercise
  • Trouble climbing up and down the stairs

What Can I Give My Dog For Pain Relief?

For mild and temporary pain, you may give your dog pain relief medication to ease the symptoms. Your veterinarian may recommend over-the-counter medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). You can also opt for joint supplements and natural oils.

However, for severe or chronic pain, these pain relief solutions may not be enough. Aside from the meds, your dog may also need other treatment options such as physical therapy and surgery. It’s best to consult your vet about what treatment option will work best for your dog’s condition.

Discussing Treatment Options with Your Vet

Once you notice signs that your dog is in pain, seek help from your veterinarian. To ensure the best treatment for your dog, you can ask your vet the following questions:

  • How will the treatment help with my dog’s pain?
  • What supplements can help to reduce pain?
  • If my dog needs to undergo surgery, what can I do to help with the pain management?
  • What home adjustments can help create a safe environment for my dog?
  • What other things can I do to ease my dog’s pain?

After your dog’s condition has been diagnosed, your vet may recommend the following treatment options:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage
  • Natural pain relievers (i.e., herbal supplements)
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Hot and cold therapy

Help Soothe Your Furry Friend’s Pain

A dog owner knows their pet best. So if something’s wrong with your dog, you’ll be the first to notice. By informing yourself about the signs, causes, and solutions for pain relief for dogs, you can help ease the pain and ensure a better quality of life. And if the pain is too severe, you can always reach out to your vet for help.

For more dog health advice and tips, visit our blog.


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