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5 Signs of Pain in Dogs

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: September 3, 2017
5 Signs of Pain in Dogs

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Watching our animal friends behave strangely and worrying that they are feeling some pain is an unpleasant experience.

Although dogs don't have the ability to speak, they have many other behaviors and gestures to express their emotions, especially pain. It is our duty as caregivers of these special animals, to learn to read these messages and detect problems and decide if it is necessary to run to the vet.

Do you have a dog and want to take care of them in the best way possible? AnimalWised want to teach you 5 signs of pain in dogs, to reinforce your knowledge about canine life.

You may also be interested in: 5 Signs and Symptoms of a Dying Rabbit

1. They pant excessively

Panting is a completely normal behavior in dogs, especially on those hot days or when your walk has been very active. Panting is a natural way for dogs to cool their bodies and cause their body temperature to decrease.

The problem is when this excessive panting comes from nowhere. If you see that your dog is panting more than normal, it may be a clear sign that they do not feel quite right, that they are going through an episode of stress or fear due to some pain. You may be experiencing heat stroke, intoxication, or having a breathing problem.

5 Signs of Pain in Dogs - 1. They pant excessively

2. They isolate themselves

Dogs look much more like humans than we think. When a person does not feel well it is normal to isolate themselves or even there are people who, on the contrary, manifest their pain through aggression. The same thing happens with dogs.

If your dog has any pain you may notice that they begin to show an antisocial dynamic, stopping to greet your arrival home and avoiding any physical contact. So much so, that they could even become aggressive. Always keep in mind that your dog is not trying to harm anyone or to be unfriendly, it is their way of saying that something hurts and that they prefer not to be touched.

5 Signs of Pain in Dogs - 2. They isolate themselves

3. Excessive licking

As with other daily routines, it is common for dogs to feel the need to clean themselves. In fact, they like to lick and groom. What is not normal is that they are doing it all day, obsessively.

Analyze your dog's behavior as they groom them-self when they are totally healthy and then stay alert to compare it. They may be experiencing some pain and to calm down they overly lick an area where they did not before. This is an action performed in the hope of cleaning and healing the wound in question, most likely internal. However, if you notice that an open wound is compulsively licked, be careful, they may develop acral dermatitis due to licking.

5 Signs of Pain in Dogs - 3. Excessive licking

4. No appetite

Who wants to eat when they are sick? This is one of the primary reactions of the organism when it is experiencing some pain or illness. It could also be the case that your dog feels like eating but walking to their dog bowl is too painful. In this case, try to bring the feed to their bed.

If in spite of this, if your dog spends a lot of time without eating, they could be suffering from an illness, which does not necessarily have to be serious, but one that must be evaluated during a visit to the vet. Some of the serious diseases that are detected through inappetence are: canine anorexia, kidney or liver problems, systemic infections, dental diseases and even cancer.

5 Signs of Pain in Dogs - 4. No appetite

5. General changes in behavior

If your pet was never a constant barker but now does so to the early hours, they may be warning you that something hurts. Likewise, if your dog was rarely quiet but remains silent for the most part, there will be an underlying issue. It is very important to know your dog, their dynamics, personality, likes and dislikes. This is the only way you can make the right comparisons to see if your best friend is going through some uncomfortable experience, has a wound or feels pain.

You could notice your dog is limping, or something much more subtle, for example, that they do not want to climb the stairs or go for the ball they like so much. Also one physical sign of pain is if they keep their torso arched or they are too tense. Often, dogs that feel bad lie on their side with their legs stretched out. This could be different than the way your pet sleeps every night. Maybe your dog is sleeping too much but still very active on walks, or your dog could move slowly and parsimoniously. There are thousands of behaviors that could be signs of pain in dogs. Each behavior is a warning.

5 Signs of Pain in Dogs - 5. General changes in behavior

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to 5 Signs of Pain in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.

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1 comment
molly kivel, dog Kathy owner
Molly has developed systs on parts of her body . She has one the size of a baseball on her paw. She has started eating it. It smells so bad. I think I will have to put her to sleep. Please help me with this.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Kathy,

You really need to take molly to the vet. This is a serious condition and it sounds like she might be in a lot of pain. The vet will have the means and tools to deal with the problem properly.

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