Black dog at the vet
© Shutterstock

8 signs your dog is in pain

By Dawn Parrish Content Writer

Updated on the

If your dog is in pain, he will show you some signs of behaviour changes and certain symptoms of discomfort. The sooner his pain is diagnosed and treatment is given, the better.

Just like humans feel pain for various reasons, so can your pet. Serious diseases such as cancer and arthritis and other illnesses, infections and even dental problems will cause distress. As a responsible pet owner, it’s your duty of care to look out for any subtle changes in your dog. When a person is feeling pain, he will complain about it, or yell out. A dog, however, isn’t usually able to express his emotions. Signs and symptoms of his pain will be more difficult to read.

Obviously, he cannot tell you what his symptoms are. Likewise, he might whine or limp to show you he is feeling discomfort but you will need to discover the reason. There are, however, several subtle signs that you can look out for if you think your dog is in agony.

Being more vocal

When suffering any pain, your dog will express his emotions in various ways. He might howl, growl or even snarl at you. A dog in pain will probably yelp or whimper when he puts weight on the offending body part that hurts. Certainly, if his whining is paired with an obvious action it might be even easier to diagnose.

Notice some eye changes

If your dog has a pain in his eye, look out for a sign of squinting. Likewise, his pupils might appear to be smaller. However, if he has an ache in a limb or another body part, his pupils might enlarge.

Dog foot pain

Your dog may have a foot wound that causes him pain©Pixabay

Licking and grooming a wound are signs of a dog in pain

If you notice your pet licking his feet constantly, he is probably hurt. One of the first canine instincts when in discomfort is to care for and clean the wound. Your dog will do this by licking and self-grooming. This may be due to an external wound or even an internal pain.

Changes to sleeping, drinking and eating habits

It is quite probable that if your dog is in any pain, he will attempt to heal himself by sleeping more. He might lose his appetite and the quantity of water he drinks may change too. Certainly, if he is in a lot of discomfort his movements will be restricted and he will lie down more.

Dog resting in pain

Is your dog in pain when resting?©Pixabay

Uncomfortable when resting

If your dog is in a lot of agony, it’s only natural that he might be in a lot of discomfort when lying down or sitting. Check to see if he attempts to lie down, but then gets up and tries to move to a more comfortable position. There might be an obvious reason for this uneasiness.

Seeking more affection or withdrawing are other dog pain symptoms

One certain sign that your dog is unhappy and not feeling too good, is when he hides away. Likewise, he might follow you around searching for constant affection.

Changes to breathing pattern

Check out any panting and gasping as your dog breathes. If he hasn’t been for exercise and continues to breathe more quickly, this can be a sign of pain. Your pet may be in discomfort when he inhales and exhales.

A sure sign if your dog is in pain is aggressive behaviour

There is a reason behind the saying “like a wounded animal”! If any animal is in distress or pain, they will normally adopt a protection approach and keep away from anything that will hurt them. Similarly, if your dog is in pain, he might take this mode and pin his ears back, growl at you and even snarl at you.

Doctor Jason Nicholas of The Preventative Vet states When evaluating your dog for potential pain, please take great care to not get yourself (or anyone helping you) bitten. Even if your dog would never normally bite anyone, the mere fact that you’re evaluating your dog for pain indicates that this may not be a normal time.”

Please don’t try and diagnose and give treatment to your dog yourself. Medication prescribed for humans can be harmful if given to a pet. There are many different reasons for the onset of pain and likewise, many different forms of treatment. Ask for medical advice and treatment for your dog.

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