Can I Tell If Your Pet Is In Pain?

“Very important Information”

Dogs are one of the most stoic of animals.  This means that we often take for granted that everything is normal with them and they are fine.  We may not realize that something is wrong or that they are in pain until there is a serious problem.  You may find yourself wondering how you can tell if your dog is in pain?  It’s not always easy but there are a few things you can look for.

First and foremost, you should always observe your dog, see if he’s acting normal.  Is he doing something that he hasn’t done before?  Does he just seem “off” in some way?  Very often an owner may not be able to put into words what’s wrong with their dog but they know that something isn’t quite right.  If you feel this is the case with your dog it may be a good idea to take your dog to the vet, just in case.

Other signs that your dog may be experiencing pain can include:


Favouring a leg or some other part of the body

Whining or whimpering especially if you touch them somewhere

Lack of appetite

Acting listless or without energy

Seeming dull

Not playing

Slowness getting up or down

Biting their sides or stomach

Licking somewhere on their body (such as their leg)

Acting very submissive or very aggressive, especially if this is out of character for your dog

These are just a few of the possible signs that your dog could be experiencing some kind of pain.  If you believe that your dog is in pain you should remember that a dog in pain may snap or bite, due to the pain, so be careful not to do anything that could hurt him accidentally.  For instance, if your dog is limping, try not to move the leg around to see what’s wrong.  You could make the pain worse and cause your dog to snap at you as a reflex.

If you suspect that your dog is in pain for any reason you should take him to your vet as soon as possible.  He or she will be able to check your dog and make a diagnosis.  Your vet will probably need to ask you some questions about what your dog has been doing, what he’s been eating and anything else that could have led to a problem.

Some kinds of pain are acute — they may come on quickly and feel sharp to your dog.  Other kinds of pain may be chronic and dull.  These may be long-lasting and come on slowly, such as arthritis.  Your vet may need to perform different kinds of tests and lab work to determine exactly what your dog is experiencing.


Once your vet has made a diagnosis he or she will be able to prescribe a treatment for your dog.  The treatment will, of course, depend on the diagnosis.  Many kinds of pain are treated with an anti-inflammatory such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).  Chronic pain associated with arthritis can sometimes be reduced by helping your older, overweight dog lose a few pounds.  Massage can help some kinds of pain.  Too much exercise may be a bad thing for some conditions, but some forms of exercise can be helpful.  For instance, swimming is often recommended for dogs with arthritis and joint pain.

Talk to your vet about your dog’s diagnosis and find out how to handle any recurrence of pain.  You may be lucky and any pain your dog is experiencing will be a one-time occurrence that is easily treated.


Mark Mansfield

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