a 11 symptoms your DOG IS IN PAIN and what to do. - The Happy Puppers (Dog care, grooming, behavior and training)

Monday, March 9, 2020

11 symptoms your DOG IS IN PAIN and what to do.

11 signs that your dog is in pain

Dogs are probably the most resilient creatures on this planet. They try to not be bothered by small cuts or bruises. Since they cannot speak, it is difficult to understand whether your dog is in pain because of an injury or any other underlying cause. As dog parents or guardians we are always worried about the well-being of our pups. 

You need to understand the causes and symptoms of pain in your dog
You need to be able to identify if your dog is in pain
I am currently taking care of an Indian pariah dog (named Guy) who lives in my colony. The first night I found Guy, he was wailing in pain (I am guessing he was in a fight with other dogs). He could barely get up. He would not have lasted beyond a few days if I did not tend to his pain immediately. He had a huge swelling on his right thigh and would cry if he had to move it even an inch. His leg is better now however, he still has a severe limp. I am hoping with regular care and massage he will be back to his former self soon. 

This is Guy, one of my foster kids
Meet Guy, one of my foster kiddos. You can see the scars on him from all the street fights he has gotten into.

A note of caution: Never attempt to treat your dog's pain yourself especially with human medications. Furthermore, medications which are prescribed for your other animals can be very dangerous to your dog. Always consult your vet in case of doubt.

Thus coming back to the topic at hand, how to identify if your beloved dog is in pain?

  • Aggressive or antisocial behaviour

If your dog does not come to greet you at the door, tries to avoid contact or becomes aggressive, he or she might be in pain. If you see your dog hiding away or your dog suddenly stops playing with you, other family members or other animals in your household, take it as an indication that he/she might not be feeling well and suffering from pain.

  • Changes in drinking eating and sleeping habits

When dogs are in pain they tend to sleep more. This is their way of healing. Another case scenario could be that it’s difficult for them to move around due to the pain. When in pain, your dog may face a loss of appetite. The water consumption may also be different than normal. If your dog is having difficulty in eating firm chews or dried food, this could be an indication of dental pain.

  • Increase in vocal behaviour

If you notice that your dog suddenly adopts a more vocal attitude like snarling, growling or even howling, this could be a sign that your dog is suffering from an incredible amount of pain. If your dog is yelping, it’s a sure-shot way of letting you know that he or she is in pain.

  • Excessive grooming tendencies

If your dog suddenly starts to lick a particular place on his or her body, It’s likely that he or she is attempting to provide some soothing effect to the region which is hurt. This behaviour is often displayed in case of external as well as internal wounds. If it is external, you can easily spot it. However, if the wound is internal then that excessive licking should be taken as a sign of discomfort and pain. 

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11 warning signs your dog might be in pain

  • Altered breathing pattern or heavy panting

Panting is considered to be normal in dogs.  However, if you notice that your dog is panting without any obvious physical exertion, you should take it as a warning sign that he or she might be in pain. Also, in case of the severe pain, it might be painful for your dog to breathe, thus the shallow breaths. 

  • Trembling or shaking

If you notice that your dog is trembling or shaking without the weather being cold, it can be taken as a sign of pain. Trembling or shaking can also be a symptom of pancreatitis, kidney disease or even poisoning. 

  • Sudden changes in the posture and movement

If you observe swelling in the face, legs or paws, It could be an indication that your dog is in pain caused by an infection, inflammation or cancer. Dogs have the tendency to go into a rigid stance while others generally assume prayer position with front legs touching the ground and bottom in the air. Your dog will most often take the prayer position in case he or she is suffering from abdominal pain. This posture generally allows them to stretch the abdominal area.

Be very careful and observe your dog closely if he/she seems to be in pain

  • Reduced mobility

This is a pretty obvious symptom. If your dog is in pain due to sore paws, injury or arthritis, he or she may exhibit signs of stiffness and limp. Your dog might be slow in getting up or show reluctance in climbing stairs. You may also notice some lethargy compared to his or her usual active self. 

  • Seeking or disregarding affection

Just like us, every dog responds to pain differently. Some may prefer to be left alone or hide while others may constantly want affection and cuddles.

  • Difficulty in resting

It is difficult for us to sit or lie down comfortably when we are in pain. Similarly, dogs find it difficult to sit or lie down when hurting. If your dog is sitting or laying down in an unusual position and is facing difficulty in maintaining one posture for a certain period of time, it may be a sign that your dog is in pain.

  • Eye changes

If your dog is suffering from an eye problem, you will observe frequent squinting. Alternatively, if your dog is suffering from pain in other parts of the body you will observe his/her pupils be expanded.


  • Tail posture

If your dog's tail, which normally stays uprights, seems to have sagged or between his/her legs, it's an indication your dog is not feeling comfortable and might be in pain.

Why is your dog in pain?

There are several reasons why your dog might be suffering from pain. The two most common types of pain are acute and chronic. 

  • If there is a sudden injury or illness which results in pain, this pain would be referred to as acute pain. 
  • However, if your dog is suffering from pain due to a long-term disease like arthritis or tooth problems, this pain would be referred to as chronic pain.


Most common reasons for pain in dogs
  • Bone or joint damage
  • Upset stomach
  • Back problems
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Surgery
  • Soft tissue injury
  • Sprain/strain due to excessive exercise or activity
  • Dental issue
  • Cancer

If your dog seems overly lethargic, it could be a sign of pain

How can you help your dog?

If your dog is displaying any symptoms of being in pain, do not panic. 

  • In case the pain is due to sudden injury, it may resolve itself with time. If you observe that your dog is behaving normally the next day then there is nothing to worry about. 
  • However, if your dog shows symptoms of pain for more than two days, immediately schedule an appointment with your vet.
  • Stop engaging your dog in play, or any other kind of physical activity until you can consult your veterinarian. You may need to get some diagnostic tests done like x-rays, blood tests or an ultrasound to get a clear picture of the underlying cause of the pain.
  • Make videos of your dog when he or she is showing signs of discomfort or pain. Make sure to note down the timings, what had your dog eaten just before and what was he or she doing when the pain occurred. You can show the videos to your vet for him or her to get a clear picture of what your dog is experiencing.

Common pain treatments

There are many treatments which can reduce or eliminate the pain your dog is suffering from. Talk to your veterinarian to find out which therapy is the best option for your dog's pain.

The most common pain treatments are

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Physiotherapy 
  • Acupuncture 
  • Laser therapy
  • Massage 
  • Chiropractic
  • Ice or heat packs
  • Supplement or herbal therapy

Be the voice of your dog

Your dog cannot tell you what he or she needs, so you have to be his or her voice and get his or her pain and difficulties understood by the vet. If you think a second opinion is needed, do not be afraid to get one. A second opinion is nothing compared to living with the guilt of what you could have done when the time was appropriate.

Even once the signs of being resolved, make sure to book an appointment and get your dog checked so that you can be sure that the pain doesn’t become a long-term problem. 

If it seems to you that your dog is in severe pain, take him or her immediately to the emergency vet clinic.

Remember, you have to be the voice of your dog. He or she relies on you for love, care and affection.

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43 comments:

  1. Aw, this would be tough to see. I don't have dogs, but I do have cats, and I always watch to make sure they are doing okay. I would hate for them to be in pain.

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    1. Seeing them in pain feels like someone is ripping out my heart. I have 9 foster kids (all dogs) besides Delta. Its hard, but I do whatever I can to help.

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  2. I'll need to remember and watch out for these. I know the symptoms in a cat can be very different and I'll need to look out for them too.

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    1. Yes, cats and dogs are very different in terms of behavior and expression.

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  3. These are some excellent tips is so hard to see our pets suffer that much they can speak they can tell us how they are feeling honey so sad

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  4. Remarkably well compiled scientific insights towards assessing pain in our fur babies.

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  5. I have cats and look out for pretty much the same things. But it is so hard to see our pets not feeling well.

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    1. Absolutely, they are our heart and soul. When Delta is sick, I feel like switching places with him. I can at least tell where I hurt

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  6. Because I work in a veterinary clinic I know A LOT about this. Unfortunately that knowledge can be scary too!

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    1. True. Knowledge is always as scary as it is powerful.

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  7. Awwww I hate the thought of puppies being in pain. I like how you say you need to be the voice for your pet. Great tips here!

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    1. Thank you. I believe being a little overprotective is ok compared to under-protective when it comes to animals

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  8. Great points! It's hard when our dogs can't just tell us what's happening or where they are hurting, however, they often are trying to connect with us and communicate in their own way. Learning to recognize and understand this communication is key.

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    1. Yes...recognizing your dog's way of communication is winning half the battle itself.

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  9. I can always tell when my dog is sick because she doesn't eat and just lays around with no energy.

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    1. That is one of the major symptoms of being in pain.

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  10. Great post. Since our furry friends don't talk it's sometimes difficult to know what's wrong with them. But there's always a sign that something is not right.

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    1. Yes. They do try to convey to us if something is wrong. We just need to know to identify

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  11. Great tips! It is important to learn about these signs so we can take care of our furry friends better!

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  12. this is a great post for inexperienced people. I am always so nervous when my dogs show any sights of discomfort, I worry so much!

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    1. I worry too. I got Delta when he was one day old. I have raised him literally. If he makes one wrong sound, I take out my laptop and start to check what it might mean. I also semi foster 9 dogs. Delta and my foster kids are the reason I started this blog. We are right to be worried. Our worry can save a dog's life

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  13. Those are a lot of symptoms to look out for. I think cats roughly have the same. I remember my cat showing those symptoms when he was in pain. These tips are really helpful as sometimes it can be hard to know.

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    1. Yes, cats do show more or less similar symptoms.Thank you :)

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  14. It was definitely heart breaking watching my one of my parent's dogs die... Ugh!

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  15. It can be hard to see a dog in pain and not know what to do. These are signs that I will start being aware of

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  16. This is a great post. My dogs have been sick a few times and each time, they are lethargic and don't want to do anything but stay in their beds. Poor babies!

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  17. I've never had a dog but i do have a cat! I am sure the same symptoms would apply right? Please let me know.

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    1. Cats do show similar symptoms to dogs like lack of appetite, hunching and hiding, over-grooming or complete neglect to grooming, excessive meowing or unequal vocalization (I have also heard cats howling when in pain). If you have any further query, let me know :)

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  18. Great post and very informative. All pet owners should definitely view this post!

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  19. Some very helpful points to look out for! I will send this post over to my mum as she has a dog

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  20. These are some good things to look out for. With my dog its usually loss of appetite, and he doesn't seem to want to cuddle as much.

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    1. Yeah..those are some sure shot signs of pain and discomfort.

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  21. It makes me sad when our dogs get sick. Usually, they don't have appetite and they hide away. Bringing them to the vet would definitely help though it could drain your budget quite a bit.

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  22. It makes me sad when our dogs get sick. They usually don't have appetite or hide away. Bringing them to the vet definitely helps but sometimes it could drain your budget quite a bit.

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  23. This is really helpful. Passing it on to my mom!

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  24. I dont have dog, but still being helpful information i would pass it to people who has.
    Thanks for sharing such a kind information.

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  25. Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. can cats eat bread

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