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How Do I Know if My Dog is in Pain?

We all wish our dogs could explain when something is wrong. As pet owners, we do our best to interpret our pets’ signals. Continue reading below to learn more about signs that your dog might be in pain. 

 

  1. Limping

    While a limp is one of the clearest ways to see that your dog may be in pain, it is not always straight forward. Many dogs will mask their lameness when they are excited, stressed, or focused on something else. Try to pay attention to when your dog might off-weight a certain limb while standing, or if he struggles to move from lying down to a standing position. Your veterinarian will also be able to help you determine the source of your dog’s lameness.

 

  1. Vocalizations

    Some dogs are more vocal than others; therefore, this sign of pain needs to be interpreted on an individual basis. Whining, barking, or even unusual growling when you touch a certain area of your dog’s body can be a sign that he or she is uncomfortable. 


  1. Reactive to other dogs
    If your dog is usually very friendly with other dogs, then suddenly appears to become reactive, this could suggest that your dog is in pain. Many dogs will react by barking or growling around other dogs if they are trying to protect themselves. If your dog has a sudden temperament change, it is always a good idea to have him or her evaluated by your veterinarian. 

  2. Panting

    Many dogs will have elevated heart and respiration rates when they are in pain. Unusual panting at rest could be a sign of discomfort. If your dog seem to pant at times when he/she would normally rest comfortably, we suggest checking in with your veterinarian. 



  3. Change in appetite

    Some dogs may be more or less likely to stop eating when they are in pain. Of course, there is a long list of reasons your dog may have a change in appetite. Combining some of the signs on this list may help to determine if this is actually a sign of pain. Either way, if your dog suddenly stops eating, it is always a good idea to check with your veterinarian. 



  4. Restlessness

    If your dog is pacing, seems restless, and appears unable to make him/herself comfortable, he/she may be in pain. A dog in pain may not want to lie on a certain part of his body or may choose to stand for long periods of time. 



  5. Avoidance

A dog who is normally very friendly and outgoing, then suddenly chooses to stay on his/her bed when you return home may be in pain. Overall, your dog may seem mentally dull and withdrawn. He or she may also move away from you when you try to touch certain areas of his or her body. Alternatively, some dogs may seek extra attention when they are in pain and seem clingy. As always, these signs need to be interpreted on an individual basis. 

 

As you can see, interpreting signs of pain in your dog is not always easy. By combining some of the signals on this list, you will have a better chance of identifying what may be bothering your dog. If you are questioning how your dog is feeling, it is always a good idea to check with your veterinarian. He or she can perform a thorough examination and identify any possible sources of pain.