Signs That Your Dog Is in Pain
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Unlike humans, who vocalize their pain, dogs instinctively mask their discomfort. Because of this, it can be hard to know when your pet has a toothache or other condition that is causing them pain. While our pets cannot tell us when something is wrong, there are still ways to know when they hurt. Identifying telltale signs of pain, finding the underlying cause, and seeking veterinary help to get your dog feeling better is essential.
What Signs Do Dogs Show When They Are In Pain?
The signs of pain in dogs depend on the cause. Like people, dogs are individuals and may react to pain differently. That said, there are some physical, behavioral, and mobility changes to look out for:
Abnormal gait - your dog may lose their balance and stumble if they experience ataxia, leading to gait problems. This condition is caused by a problem in the nervous system that makes the brain unable to tell the body what to do. It can also be a sign of pain.
Aggression - pain can lead to increased aggression and behaviors such as growling, snapping, and even biting. It often happens when you attempt to touch a dog experiencing extreme pain.
Difficulty standing up or lying down - arthritis or conditions such as hip dysplasia can make it difficult for your dog to get up and down. They may also have problems going up and down the stairs.
Drooling - if you notice your dog drooling, even during mealtime, it can indicate an oral cavity or abdominal pain. Your dog may also have trouble chewing hard foods when experiencing toothache.
Excessive licking - you may have heard the phrase “lick your wounds,” and that is what dogs do. If you see your dog constantly licking, they may be trying to soothe their pain, perhaps from arthritis or an injury.
Rapid heart rate and breathing - increased heart and breathing rate (panting) could indicate severe physical pain, including abdominal pain from severe pancreatitis.
Shaking and trembling - your dog may shake or tremble if they experience muscle pain, abdominal pain, or pain in their back or spine. Dogs also tend to tremble when they are in pain because of arthritis or any physical trauma.
Tense muscles and twitching - your dog may twitch or have tense muscles if injured or experiencing nerve-related pain.
Whimpering or groaning - if your dog whimpers or groans, it could be a sign of severe abdominal pain. Your dog may also express pain this way while recovering from surgery. When your dog whimpers or cries out for apparently for no reason, seek help from your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.
Restlessness - a dog experiencing pain can have difficulty getting comfortable and may become restless. They may also:
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Pain In Dogs?
Many things can cause pain in pets, and they manifest in various signs and symptoms. Some of these things can be serious. The following are the most common causes of pain in dogs.
Arthritis - like humans, dogs can be affected by arthritis (inflammation and joint stiffness). The primary sign of arthritis is the pain it causes. A veterinarian can help to relieve the pain and address the condition. Even with chronic, irreversible conditions like osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis), the earlier it is diagnosed and treating the condition begins, the better.
Common signs of arthritis in dogs include:
Other body parts it can impact include the following:
Infections - your dog could have pain because of any number of infections.
Other causes of injury-related pain include:
When Should You See A Vet About Signs Your Dog Is In Pain?
If you notice any signs of pain that last more than 24 hours, seek veterinary care. The sooner pain is addressed, the sooner your canine will feel better. If your dog is in so much pain that they yelp or pant heavily, seek immediate veterinary care.
What Can You Do When Your Dog Is In Pain?
If your dog is in pain, speak with your veterinarian. They can determine what will help your pet based on their symptoms, quality of life, and underlying condition.
Treatment for pain in dogs depends on the cause:
Ice Or Heat Therapy
Ice is good for aches related to bone and joint issues. If it has been less than 48 hours since the injury occurred, use an ice pack, frozen water bottle, or a cold towel for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Start as soon as possible after the injury. It keeps the swelling, pain, and inflammation down.
Heat can help relieve chronic pain in the hips or back or pain related to an injury over 72 hours old. Use a warm towel or a heated blanket for 15 to 20 minutes.
Pet parents can make household changes to help dogs with chronic pain caused by conditions like arthritis. Modifications may include:
Helping your pet lose extra pounds can ease pain related to aging, injury, or conditions such as hip dysplasia.
The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture may help relieve pain in dogs associated with the following:
This therapy can help decrease inflammation and pain caused by arthritis or injury. It is often used after surgery to help promote healing.
Massage Or Physical Therapy
Massage can help relieve muscle and joint soreness, especially after strenuous activities. If your dog has an injury from a fall or decreased mobility due to old age, physical therapy may:
What Medications Can You Give A Dog For Pain?
Depending on your dog’s symptoms, your vet may recommend several medications. Just remember, seek veterinary help before giving your pet any medication. Some medicines commonly used to treat pain in dogs include:
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