The thought of a helpless dog in pain is a scary one. Often times, they’re forced to suffer in silence because they can’t simply tap us on the shoulder and say, “Hey – I’m not feeling so well!” That’s why it’s important to monitor your dog’s day-to-day behavior, stay alert to any changes, and know the top warning signs of pain in dogs.
While the following symptoms can mean several different things, they shouldn’t be ignored. If you suspect your pooch is in pain, don’t self-diagnose. Rather, schedule a vet visit immediately.
1) Signs Of Agitation or Aggression
Often times when a dog is in pain, they will go into protective mode and guard their injured body part. This means, if you get too close or accidentally touch the injured area, your normally friendly pooch may show aggressive behaviors such as pinned back ears, growling, and even biting. These aggressive tendencies may even be pointed toward you! It’s important not to take this personally, as your pooch doesn’t mean to harm you. Rather, he’s trying to protect himself.
My story: About a month ago, my Chihuahua appeared to be guarding his lower back. He would even snap at me when I tried to touch the area (and he usually loves back scratches)! A trip to the vet confirmed my suspicions — he had pulled a muscle in his back. I’m happy to report that he’s feeling all better now 🙂
Has your dog stopped greeting you at the door? Does he avoid being petted? Is he shying away from play-time with other dogs in the home? Has he suddenly started hiding under furniture or in the corner of rooms? These are all signs that your dog may be in pain.
3) Heavy Panting/ Altered Breathing
Let me start by saying that, on many occasions, panting is totally normal. It’s especially common on hot days since panting is the main way a dog cools off. But excessive panting out of nowhere is also a warning sign that your pooch is stressed and something is wrong. Keep a close eye on your pooch.
4) Excessive Grooming
When a dog is injured, they instinctually clean and care for the wounded area by licking. If you notice your pooch repeatedly licking and tending to a certain area then make sure to check for open wounds that may be causing pain. If you don’t notice any cuts, scrapes, or bruises, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean your dog isn’t feeling pain in that area. He may be experiencing pain from something happening internally. Even if you don’t see any visible wounds, it’s worth a vet check.
5) Change In Appetite
Healthy dogs love to eat. They usually look forward to mealtime and get extra excited about treats. So a sudden lack of appetite is a big warning sign that your pooch is experiencing some sort of pain/discomfort. If you notice your dog ignoring his food and turning his nose up at his favorite treats then schedule a vet visit ASAP.
6) Change In Activity Level
Just think about it – if your leg hurts then chances are you aren’t going to want to lace up your running shoes and hit the treadmill. Well, it’s the same for your dog. If your pooch is experiencing pain then you may notice his activity level drop. Additionally, canines in pain tend to sleep more. If you notice your dog snoozing more than usual and/or resisting physical activities (ones that he usually loves) then it’s time to get checked.
7) Clear Physical Limitations
Some signs of pain are more obvious than others. If your dog is limping, has trouble walking, can’t jump up anymore, appears stiff, shows a change in posture, or is lying down in a different resting position then these are all clear indicators of pain.
8) Accidents In The House
Depending on the type of pain your pup is experiencing, you may notice increased accidents in the house. This can happen to even the most well-trained dog. Your pup may have been in too much pain to stand up and make it to the door in enough time. Or perhaps the physical action of squatting is just uncomfortable for your pup. If your dog is having accidents as a result of pain, remember it’s not intentional and scolding won’t solve the problem. Talk to your vet to find out what’s wrong, how you can ease your pup’s pain, and maybe consider using pee-pads.
9) A Gut Feeling
You know your dog best. If you think he seems “off” or appears as though something is bothering him then don’t ignore your gut feeling. When my Chihuahua was experiencing his back pain, I could also see it written all over his face. His eyes looked dull, his facial expression looked serious, and he wasn’t acting like his normal, energetic self.
If you suspect your canine companion isn’t feeling well then get him checked. The earlier you pinpoint the source of pain, the quicker you can start offering your pooch some relief.