No pet owner wants their dog to be in pain. It can be challenging to know if your dog is experiencing pain because dogs can’t talk and instinctively try to hide their pain. That is why it is up to pet owners to recognize the subtle indications that their furry friend needs help.
There are several physical and behavioral changes you need to be aware of in your dog that may indicate it is in pain. Learning to recognize the signs of dog pain, identify where the pain is coming from, and know what to do to help are critical parts of being a dog owner.
Most dogs are social animals. When you come home after being away for a long time, your dog might run up and greet you. If this behavior changes or if you notice your dog is avoiding contact when you reach out, it could indicate they are experiencing some pain. Dogs behave in a consistent manner. Noticeable changes in their behavior are a cause for concern.
When a dog is in pain, it will sleep more as its body tries to heal. Pain may inhibit its ability to move around or be active. If your dog is food-motivated and out of nowhere it is are no longer interested in food or water, this is a sign that they are hurting. Dental pain can make chewing dry or firm food challenging for dogs.
If your dog has become more vocal, it may be their way of handling pain. Excessive snarling, yelping, howling, or growling indicates that something is off with them.
It is normal for your dog to lick their paws from time to time. If your dog is constantly licking its feet, it is trying to calm or soothe itself. A dog’s first instinct is to care for and clean a wound by licking it. If your dog has a cut, it is going to be easy for you to identify. However, if it is licking its stomach or another part of its body, this could indicate internal pain.
Limping and stiffness are clear signs that your dog is in pain. They may have injured their paw or their joints. In older dogs, licking could be a sign of arthritis. If your dog used to run upstairs and now they are reluctant to take the stairs or slow when going up, they are experiencing some pain. Dogs that are in pain often show a reduced interest in playing or exercising. They might not be as active as they usually are.
Just because your dog is shaking or trembling doesn’t mean it is cold. It is not an automatic indication of age. In dogs, shaking and trembling can be a sign of pain or symptoms that they are dealing with a severe illness, including kidney disease, poisoning, or pancreatic issues. If your dog has eaten a lot of chocolate or certain sweeteners, it may experience severe muscle tremors.
Inflammation might be seen in your dog’s legs, face, or paws. Swelling might mean an infection or even cancer. When your dog is in pain, it might have a hunched and rigid stance. Or your dog might take on the prayer posture. This is where their front legs are on the ground and the hind end is in the air. Dogs will take on the prayer position if they have abdominal pain. This position allows them to stretch their midsection.
Even though dogs process and sense pain in the same way that humans do, their internal programming tells them to hide the pain. This is a protection measure to not draw the attention of predators that prey on the sick and injured.
Even though dogs have been domesticated for a millennium, this adaptive advantage is hardwired in them down to this day. Additionally, dogs love to make their masters happy. There are accounts of dogs that have shattered their pelvis and still hop up to greet their owner affectionately. This makes it difficult to tell if a dog is truly in pain or not.
When you realize that your pet is in pain, it is essential to manage or treat the pain quickly. In the same way, being in pain stresses you out, it puts a lot of stress on your pet, impacting their well-being and quality of life.
While your dog is recovering from its illness or injury, limited physical activity is recommended. A soft and comfortable padded bed and a quiet sleeping environment can aid in your dog’s recovery.
Your vet may recommend a back brace for dogs to help limit your dog’s movement, stabilize their spine, and prevent pinched nerves. Mild support from a back brace can help your dog heal quicker and allow them to enjoy playing and walking without reinjuring themselves.
If your veterinarian recommends medication, it is up to you to see to it that your dog gets the correct dose of medicine at the right time. Continually monitor your dog’s response to any pain medication. Contact your vet if you have concerns.
It would help if you remembered that each dog is unique. Different breeds have varied personalities, and each dog’s way of expressing its pain cannot be compared to others. The best way to know if your dog is in pain is to pay close attention to its behavior.
Write down any changes that you see. If you believe that your pet is acting differently because it is experiencing pain, contact your vet right away to discuss your concerns.
Although your pet cannot talk, when it comes to pain, it will communicate with you in various ways. As a pet owner, it is up to you to be attentive and aware of changes in your pet’s actions and behavior that indicate they are in pain.