As an animal chiropractor, I frequently see dogs in pain. Often, an owner brings their pet in because they aren’t using stairs, aren’t jumping on or off furniture, or are not showing interest in things that they regularly do. When I examine the dog, the muscles sometimes spasm and the dog can be sensitive. The owner is often surprised to see some of these indicators of discomfort.
What are some of the signs of a dog in pain?
Just like people, some dogs are more open to showing signs of pain, but many will hide it. There are a few signs that you can look for to see if your dog is in pain.
- Excessive grooming – If you see your pet focusing on one localized area it could be a sign of discomfort, or a possible tingling sensation.
- More vocal – Dogs will sometimes be more vocal than normal when they are in pain. Think about when you are in a lot of pain and you try to change your position, you man groan or yell because of the pain.
- Loss of appetite – This is one that owners report frequently. Dogs that are in a fair amount of pain might refuse to eat. Once again, think about if you are in a lot of pain and how your appetite is affected.
- Increased aggressiveness – If you normally have a friendly dog that is all of a sudden nipping, growling and showing signs of aggression, it might be a sign of pain.
- Panting – This is a common symptom for a lot of the cases I see and can possibly be an indication of stress due to pain.
- Issues with movement – If your active dog all of a sudden won’t do stairs, has trouble getting in or out of the car, doesn’t chase squirrels/rabbits/play or jump on/off furniture any more there may be an issue.
- Hiding – Dogs know when they are hurt, and hiding is something that animals will do (especially when they are in the wild as an evolutionary survival trait) to protect themselves from being seen as injured or weak.
Some dogs are really good at hiding pain. They often won’t show signs until the pain is fairly advanced. However, if you see some of the above listed signs, there is a chance that something is bothering your dog.
It would be great if we could talk to our dogs. One obvious benefit would be to know when they are in pain and could use some help. Unfortunately, most dogs are good at hiding pain due to their evolution. I know that dogs are an integral part of your family. If you see any of these signs it could be an indicator of pain, and your dog will appreciate you for noticing and helping them!
(Treatment photo was taken pre-Covid-19, and posted with the permission of the owner)