How To Tell If A Dog Is In Pain And What You Can Do To Help

Pet parents do not want their dogs to suffer. They can’t communicate their suffering and will try to conceal it. It’s our job to identify the signs so they get the care they need.

A dog’s behavior and changes in physical appearance can be signs that it is suffering. Find out how to identify the signs of dog pain, how you can help, and what to say to your veterinarian.

The signs of a dog in pain

Although dogs feel pain, they do not always express it the same way as humans. Physical symptoms, behavior changes, and/or mobility problems can all be signs of pain in dogs. They may be subtle symptoms, but always be alert and ask your veterinarian about any changes that you notice.

Physical symptoms

You may notice changes to the way a dog carries itself or subtle signs that they are in pain. These are some physical symptoms of dog pain:

  • Muscles that are tight or twitching
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Back arched
  • Head held below the shoulders
  • Panting

Behavior Changes

When a dog is in pain, they tend to act differently. Like us, they become more cranky when in pain. These are some behavioral signs which may indicate your pet’s pain.

  • Wanting to be touched

Mobility Issues

You may see changes in a dog’s mobility if they have been injured or are suffering from arthritis. These are some of the most common symptoms that dogs experience when they have pain.

  • Limping
  • Slowing down or refusing to walk
  • Reluctance or unwillingness to use the stairs
  • Having difficulty lying down or standing

Discuss any changes to your pet’s behavior with them.

What causes pain in dogs?

Acute pain and Chronic are both types of pain. Acute pain is caused by something that happened recently, such as an illness or injury. Chronic pain is caused by things that are older, such as arthritis and dental diseases.

Pain in dogs can be caused by:

  • Bone or joint damage
  • Injuries to soft tissue such as bruising, sprains, or strains
  • Back Problems
  • Dental disease
  • Urinary tract, skin, and ear infections
  • Severe stomach upset
  • Cancers can be classified into several types
  • Surgeries
  • There’s so much more to discover!

What to do if your dog is in pain?

You can help your dog feel better if you believe that they are suffering. You can help your dog deal with the pain by following these steps.

Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian

Schedule an appointment to see your vet first. Get your dog to the vet immediately if they are in pain, or have other frightening symptoms.

A physical examination and diagnostic tests will be required by your veterinarian. Your vet might need to perform X-rays or blood tests in order to pinpoint the issue.

Change or Stop Physical Activities with Your Pet

Avoid the activity until you speak to your vet.

You can ask your veterinarian how you can help minimize the pain of your pet by modifying or stopping this activity.

Modifications that can be made to reduce pain in common activities include:

  • Shorter walks
  • Use of a ramp, steps or stairway
  • Raising the height of food/water bowls to make them more comfortable

These changes may only be temporary for certain acute pain cases, while they could be permanent or long-lasting in the case of chronic pain.

Keep Track of Signs That You See

When we go to the vet we find that everything is fine.

It’s helpful to record a picture or video of your dog when he or she is showing signs of discomfort or pain. This will be more common at home rather than at the vet clinic, where they may become stressed. Note when the symptoms occur, and what you pet was doing.

It helps your veterinarian understand what your dog’s pain is like, as well as any symptoms or signs they may be displaying.

Video and photos of your dog will also allow your vet to modify your daily routine to minimize pain and suggest other options for treatment.

Discover All Treatment Options

Many veterinary treatment options can reduce or eliminate both chronic and acute pain. Speak to your vet about the treatment options for your dog.

The most common pain treatments include:

  • Medication includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), opioids, and others
  • The following are some of the most effective ways to reduce your risk.
  • Rehabilitation of the body
  • Laser Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic Treatment
  • Stem cell therapy and Regenerative Medicine
  • Massage
  • Herbal remedies and supplements
  • Heat or ice packs

Do not be afraid to ask questions and get a second opinion

What questions should you ask your veterinarian?

  • What will you do to manage the pain of my pet before, during and after surgery?
  • What specific treatments will help them with their pain?
  • Does a pain reliever help?
  • How can I help my child at home?
  • What can we do to help them?

For a second opinion or additional options, you can always consult another veterinarian, such as a general practitioner, integrative veterinarian, veterinary pain specialist, behaviorist, neurosurgeon, oncologist or surgeon.

Advocacy for your dog

You are the voice of your dog and she depends on you for help.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, such as changes to their routines, behaviors, or preferences, you should make an appointment as soon as possible with your veterinarian.

You should keep your appointment even if you feel better. This will ensure that the problem does not persist.

Do not hesitate to bring your animal to an urgent care clinic if they are injured or ill or shows multiple signs of severe pain.

Your dog is your best advocate for health.