Anyone who owns a dog knows that keeping him safe and happy is their number one priority, that includes knowing signs a dog is in pain. This can be tricky because human beings and pets do not speak the same language, which is why it can be extremely difficult to find out when your dog is feeling pain.
There are a few signs a dog is in pain that are easily evident — like limping, strutting, constant sneezing, or wounds that are easily visible. Nevertheless, sadly there are a plethora of signs that can be virtually impossible to identify.
Reading dogs is not that easy, especially if you are new to them. However, once you spend more time with them, you will become more familiar with their body language, the way they act, and the way they respond to certain things.
This does not mean that you will instantly know whether they are feeling pain or not, but it will definitely make things remarkably easier.
Furthermore, there are a few subtle telltale signs that you can look for that will prove to be infinitely helpful in indicating if your dog is in pain. Spotting symptoms during the early stages of an illness can be extremely hard. However, if you are experienced and skilled enough to spot them, you can provide your dog remarkable relief from the pain they are suffering.
19 Signs a Dog is In Pain
Mentioned below are a few signs a dog is in pain.
1. Grooming Constantly
Grooming is actually quite common among dogs. However, if your dog start grooming themselves excessively and compulsively, it would be wise to take them to the vet in order to find out the root of the problem.
Constant grooming is an obvious indicator of pain or discomfort, which is why you should waste no time and get your dog checked out by a doctor. Licking a specific area of the body is also a telltale sign of pain that you should not ignore.
Dogs tend to lick parts of their body where they are feeling pain. This does not necessarily mean that it is feeling external pain; it could be internal as well.
Rubbing of the eyes and constantly licking paws are clear signs of localized constant grooming.
2. Being Vocally Aggressive
Increased vocalization is an obvious sign that the dog is facing some sort of irritation. A dog could be signaling you that it is in immense pain by being vocally aggressive. Increase in barking, growling, whining are a few things that you should look out for all the time to ensure that your dog gets treated for his discomforts.
It would also be wise to thoroughly check the dog’s body if there are any hidden injuries that might be causing pain to the dog. Keep in mind that dogs tend to get aggressive if you do not touch them gently, which is why you should be extremely careful when examining him for injuries.
3. Being too Aggressive
You can look for sudden changes in a dog’s mood to find out whether he is in pain or not. Aggression is one of these mood changes that you should specially look out for. If your dog has a history of being friendly and docile, but is suddenly acting really aggressive, there is a fair chance that he is in tremendous pain.
It would be wise to pay special attention to your dog when he is being extra aggressive because threatening them will only make matters worse. You should also take extra measures to protect yourself as dogs who act out aggressively due to injuries tend to lash out on their owners unexpectedly.
Pinning ears back and constant growling are a few signs you should look out for in dogs for their aggressive behavior.
4. Losing Appetite
A clear warning sign of pain is losing interest in food. It is no secret that virtually every dog loves to eat, so showing unwillingness to eat or even move close to the bowl is a sign of your dog feeling pain.
Cancer, dental disease, kidney and liver conditions are among a few serious illnesses that can make your dogs lose their appetite. Therefore, you should waste no time in rushing your dog to the veterinarian to make sure that it gets the appropriate treatment for a speedy recovery.
5. Finding it Difficult to Move
Hip pain and arthritis are a couple of conditions in which dogs, or any animal for that matter, finds it excessively difficult to move. Leg injuries can also be one of the reasons why your dog might be facing trouble moving.
It would be wise to pay close attention to your dog’s mobility. If you observe that he is finding it difficult to run, jump, or climb stairs, you should take him to the doctor to find out the underlying cause. This is one of the signs where you do not have to go through a lot of trouble to find out whether your dog is in pain or not.
Dogs are often lethargic and stiff when they find it difficult to move. Limping, and trouble getting back up after lying down are also obvious indicators of pain.
Panting is something that every dog does after physical exertion. You might have noticed your dog panting after running or playing with a toy.
However, excessive panting, especially when your dog is not getting exercise, is an obvious indicator of pain or stress. Finding out the exact cause of panting can be extremely difficult. If you notice your dog is panting unexpectedly and suddenly, it would be wise to take him to the vet as soon as possible.
7. Seeking or Withdrawing Affection
Reading a dog’s mind can be extremely difficult. Even after spending numerous years with them. There are instances where you simply do not know what they are trying to say.
There are some dogs that start seeking extra affection from their owners when they are feeling pain, while there are others that withdraw themselves from everyone and stay isolated.
You should be extremely wary of these signs and seek advice from a professional vet to make sure that your dog is in perfect health.
8. Changes in Eating, Sleeping, and Drinking
A dog tends to sleep for a longer period when it feels too much pain. The reason behind too much sleep is the fact that they find it extremely difficult to move or they are trying to heal.
Losing the will to eat and drink is also a clear sign that your dog is in discomfort and needs immediate medical attention.
9. Changing Eyes
Eye pain can be extremely difficult to locate in animals. You should always check your dog’s eyes regularly to see if they are healthy or if they are showing signs of pain.
A good way of indicating eye pain in dogs is to see if they are squinting. Doges tend to squint excessively if they are facing discomfort in their eyes. However, their pupils get bigger if there is pain in other parts of the body.
Most healthy dogs tend to be restless in general. However, restlessness can also be a sign that your dog is in pain. This can be quite confusing for dog owners. It would be ideal to get your dog checked by the doctor after every few weeks to steer clear from such suspicions. Racing back and forth constantly is a clear sign that your dog is agitated by something.
11. Body and Postural Changes
There are a few changes in a dog’s body that you should always be on the lookout for to find out if he is in pain or not. Cancer and infection are a couple of reasons for these changes in the body, and swelling of the ears, nose, or paws are a few clear indicators of pain in dogs.
You can also see postural changes as a symptom for your dog’s pain. Dogs tend to get a hunched and rigid posture when they are in pain.
Assuming the prayer position is quite common among dogs that are going through abdominal pain.
This is a cause for concern and should be immediately addressed by taking the dog to the doctor.
12. Trembling or Shaking
People often make the mistake of assuming that shaking or trembling are just a few signs of old age. Although this is true, there are some cases where dogs begin to tremble and shake due to an underlying illness.
Kidney disease, pancreatitis, and poisoning are among a few reasons why dogs tend to constantly tremble and shake. Extreme muscle tremors can also be the cause of these tremors. You should consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog gets back to good health.
Nausea is one of the biggest reasons why dogs drool so much. A dog may also foam at the mouth or drool if he has eaten something poisonous. This is a case where you should be extremely quick on your feet and take your dog to the vet to prevent them from getting severely ill.
Vomiting is an obvious sign that a dog is not feeling well. There can be a myriad of different reasons why your dog might vomit. It is important that you take your dog to the vet to find out the root cause and solve it. You should also look for blood in your dog’s vomit to find out if he has any severe issues.
15. Lethargic Behavior
Lethargic behavior is extremely rare in dogs. Toxins in the body are one of the mains causes of lethargy. These toxins can be damaging the heart muscles of your dog, making it extremely lethargic.
You can notice lethargic behavior by looking at their daily activities. If they show unwillingness to play or go out for a walk, chances are that something is wrong with them. Constant diarrhea and vomiting are also a couple of telltale signs of lethargy. You should seek a veterinarian’s help to make sure that he or she nurses your dog back to health.
16. Lack of Coordination
An ingested toxin might be the reason why your dog is showing lack of coordination. Difficulty in walking, falling down, and bumping into different objects are a few important telltale signs that should be immediate causes for concern.
You can immediately sense lack of coordination in dogs by simply looking at their eyes and their overall body language. Ingesting poisonous substances can also be an important reason why your dog is losing its coordination.
17. Light Sensitivity
Most of you might not know this, but dogs can also become sensitive to light at times. However, there might be an underlying cause for this sensitivity.
Eating something poisonous is often the key cause of light sensitivity in dogs. Sensitivity to sounds and touch are also a couple of indicators that your dog might be in pain.
18. Non-Responsive Behavior
Diagnosing and treating non-responsive behavior in dogs can be extremely tricky. Your dog might be conscious, but would fail to see or hear anything around himself. You should approach these situations extremely calmly and cautiously.
People often get scared and make the mistake of assuming that their dog is dead. It would be wise to rush your dog to the vet to bring him back to full health. Delaying treatment, especially when it comes to non-responsible behavior can have life-threatening consequences on your dog.
19. Labored Breathing
You can instantly find out if your dog is in pain by seeing how he is breathing. Difficulty in breathing is mainly caused by excessive fluids in the lungs.
The presence of this fluid causes breathing difficulty, essentially slowing down the heart of the dog. Here are a few things you should always be on the lookout for, if your dog has difficulty breathing:
- Loud breaths
- Extended head and neck
- Flared nostrils
- The cavity of your dog’s chest is moving excessively
Common Painful Conditions in Dogs
As we discussed earlier, there are a few conditions where recognizing pain can be extremely difficult in the initial stages, which is why you should visit your vet on a regular basis to diagnose them as early as possible.
These are some conditions that are difficult to recognize:
- Eye issues like glaucoma and corneal ulcers
- Tooth fractures, which are also known as periodontal diseases
- Knee injuries like crucial ligament damage
- Inflamed intestines, also known as enteritis
- Stomach inflammation, also known as gastritis
- Pancreatitis, a dogs pancreas get inflamed in this dangerous disease
- Ear infections in the inner or middle part of the ear
- Bladder inflammation in the bladder or kidney stones
- Inflammation in joints like elbows and hips, also known as arthritis
- Tumors or cancers in vital internal organs
Why Taking Your Dog To the Vet Is Important
Sometimes looking for signs a dog is in pain isn’t enough—that’s where going to the vet is important. The importance of taking your pets to the doctor cannot be stressed enough. Determining causes and underlying causes of pain is not that easy for pet owners, which is why you should book regular checkups with the vet in advance as they will be able to find any problem with your dog at an early stage.
It is also important that you limit your dog’s movements and let him rest while he recovers. Vets will also recommend you a diet plan for your dog’s recovery and some lifestyle changes to go along with it.
You should follow the instructions of your vet completely to make sure that your dog always remains healthy and lives a long life.
Although we have discussed in great detail the different types of diseases and problems that can cause pain to your dog, it is extremely important that we also discuss some preventative measures that keep your dogs away from these problems.
Here are some tips that you should follow to ensure optimum health of your dog, and to try and prevent ever seeing signs a dog is in pain.
- It is no secret that virtually every dog has ticks at some point in their lives. You should buy products that keep ticks away to make sure that your dog is always happy and does not get irritated.
- Frisking your dog on a daily basis is a simple and good idea that will be extremely helpful for you to find out if your dog is feeling discomfort in any part of his body.
- Tick borne diseases are pretty common in dogs. These diseases can cause major harm to your dog down the line. You should especially check your dog’s neck every day because that is where most ticks are commonly present.
- You should thoroughly check your house for substances that can potentially be poisonous for your dog. Make sure that you keep these items out of your dog’s reach.
- Keep your dog away from other dogs that appear to be sick or aggressive.
- Create a healthy environment for your dog where he can get peaceful sleep and eat without any disturbances.