How to Tell If a Dog Is in Pain: 10 Signs

Dogs can’t cry out loud in pain that its owner can quickly understand. They tend to suffer in silence. Most of the time they show a few signs which can make it easy to spot their pain. While few signs are obvious, the rest can be difficult to spot. No matter what you feel and understand, never treat your dog yourself. Any medication without the vet’s recommendation can be dangerous and should be avoided.

We are listing out a few warning signs that indicate your dog is in pain.

10 Warning Signs That Your Dog Is in Pain

  1. Change in behavior: Depending on the age and kind of dog, dogs may either become antisocial or show aggression. Where once your dog would run to see you at the door, they will stop looking at you. They will avoid everyone, become aggressive at the slightest thing. The reason for hiding or becoming antisocial is a sign of being in pain silently. If you see that your dog has a changed behavior that should be a cause of concern. 
  2. Change in habits: Just like humans, the dogs in pain like to rest. Sick dogs sleep a lot; this is because their body is trying to heal itself. Sometimes the pain might be in their leg which causes difficulty in moving around. Appetite loss is also common along with the difference in water consumption. If you see them trying to eat with difficulty, it may indicate a dental problem.
  3. Being loud: Dogs tend to growl, bark, whine or howl when in pain. If you notice your dog making noises louder than usual, then it might be because they are trying to tell you something. In this case, you can try to check the dog’s body for pain. Do this gently so that you do not hurt them any further. 
  4. Excessive licking: Every pet licks itself when hurt; few of them love to do this constantly while soothing themselves. If your dog has hurt itself or has an open wound, they will start licking themselves clean. It is a natural instinct to take care of themselves. Cuts and abrasions may lead to internal injury. Carefully examine your dog if the licking goes on for a long time.
  5. Alterations in breathing: Shallow breathing or heavy panting both are warning signs that something is wrong with their body. If while resting your dog shows these alterations in breathing, they may be going through something painful. 
  6. Mobility problems: If any part of your dog’s body is unusually stiff or you see your dog limping, then they are obviously due to some injury or pain. Soreness in paws, arthritis are common problems that can make them immobile. Unable to take stairs, slow walking or not being able to get up all indicate serious issues. They may also show sudden disinterest in exercising and not being active like they used to be. 
  7. Restlessness: Any signs of agitation indicate that your dog is in pain. Constant pacing, unable to get comfortable in the usual places, sleeping lesser than before indicate some underlying issue. It means they are experiencing something unusual and needs immediate attention. 
  8. Bodily and posture changes: Any kind of swelling in the body caused by inflammation or infection is a warning sign. Dogs tend to have a rigid stance or a hunched back when they are in pain. If they have pain in the abdomen, then sitting with their bottoms in the air allows them to stretch the area. If you see your dog sitting in an unusual position, they need some help. 
  9. Shivering or trembling: Do not mistake into thinking that dogs tremble due to their old age or if they are feeling cold. Shivering, shaking, trembling may indicate serious issues like poisoning, kidney diseases. Eating chocolates in large quantities or swallowing too many sugary products can lead to muscle tremors that can get too serious. 
  10. Accidents in the house: If your dog is well-trained, but if they start urinating or defecating inside, it is because they cannot move around. Unable to walk, getting up or climbing stairs may result in lying in a corner and accidents happening inside the house. 

How Can You Help?

  • Patience and care can help your dog recover from any illness. Comfort your dog to reduce the stress and anxiety caused due to the pain.
  • Stay calm and have lots of patience when they are in pain. If you are calm, the dog will stay at ease and feel secure.
  • Make the dog stay in a comfortable resting place. At times when their pain doesn’t let them stay at their favorite place, create an alternative resting place with a soft bed and blanket as required.
  • Depending on the kind of pain, you can massage the dog, give them a warm bath, or a warm blanket to ease their discomfort.
  • Nobody likes to stay alone when in pain, not even dogs. Stay by his side and be his companion in this tough time. Talk to the dog and give him a comforting touch.
  • Do not let your dog lick or bite their wound as it may worsen the situation.
  • For acute situations, comfort him and give him time to heal at home. If you think the situation is serious and your dog doesn’t heal within a day or two, take him to the vet immediately.
  • Explain all the symptoms to the vet accurately so that the treatment can happen aptly.
  • Follow all the advice and directions from the vet. 
  • Medications given by the vet need to be given on time and regular follow-up with the vet.
  • If you are unsure about what your dog is going through, see the vet immediately. Also, a vet can closely examine your dog and quickly do an analysis of the issue. In serious cases, it is advisable to rush to the vet at once without wasting time.
  • You can use natural supplements like fish oil or coconut oil. These can ease out pains from arthritis, food poisoning, and allergies.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. Will my dog eat when in pain?

A. While it is not necessary for dogs to give up food in every situation. There might be noticeable changes in your dog’s appetite. If the dog gives up food totally, then it is a concern and you should quickly seek the vet’s advice. Giving up food can be a symptom of a serious disease.

Q. How can I treat my dog when in pain?

A.  Many medications are available over the counter for common pain-related issues. These pain relief medications should be given to the dog only if your vet has prescribed it to you. There may be underlying pain not visible to the eye and may need surgery. Dog’s cannot describe their pain precisely. So it is always advisable to seek a piece of expert advice before proceeding with any self-treatment. 

Q. What can owners do to help ease the pain in their dogs?

A. A dog in pain may be limited in movement, but it is advisable to keep some physical activity going. Provide him a soft and comfortable environment that enables his speedy recovery. Give him the medications on time and in correct doses as prescribed by the vet. The medications may have side effects or your dog may react differently to it. Monitor any changes during the medication and inform the vet if you notice something inappropriate. 

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