Life with a dog is life with your best friend at your side. Considering this, it stands to reason that we might assume to understand our canine’s subtle cues and behaviors, so of course we’d know if our dog is in pain!
But, realistically, the signs of pain or discomfort in pets are often easily masked. And, there is good reason for that.
In the wild, a weak, sick, or fragile animal is easily targeted by predators. That being the case, animals have developed the ability to mask symptoms in ways that can easily dupe even the most intuitive Dr. Doolittle human among us.
So, the questions stands: how can you better understand and respond to pet pain?
7 Cues Your Dog is in Pain
There are many diseases and conditions that can evoke pain response in a canine – most of which occur as a dog ages. However, given the rowdy disposition of our roaming Rovers, unwitnessed injuries can also cause ongoing pain in a canine.
Typically, however, there are some common signs of pain that manifest.
- Vocalization or crying out – This sign is generally associated with pressure or touch to a sore spot, but sometimes generalized pain can equal more noticeable whimpering, barking, or growling/hissing when attempting to pet, pick up, or examine your dog.
- Limping or favoring a side –Noticeable limping, disruption of gait, or other forms of “favoring” a side to walk on, or other mobility issues are common signs of arthritis or injury.
- Restlessness – This symptom relates to a general anxious state or a sense that something is out of the norm for your dog. In many cases, restlessness often exhibits as panting, circling, clinginess, or an inability to rest or get comfortable.
- Excessive grooming or chewing/licking – Although it may appear an odd sign of pain, many pets will attempt to relieve pain through excess grooming or will lick or bite the site that is causing discomfort.
- Lack of appetite – One of the most common signs canine parents notice as unusual is when a dog won’t eat or is eating less. After all, many dogs won’t pass up a chance to gobble down a meal. If your dog has not eaten for more than 24 hours, or has lost weight, there is likely an underlying problem.
- Changes in sleep patterns – Being in pain often means sleeping more or less, depending on the cause and source of the pain. Whether your pet is sleeping more than usual or is exhibiting lethargy coupled with restlessness or inability to get comfortable, assume there is discomfort.
- Sudden aggression or isolation – When any one of us is in pain, chances are our demeanor will reflect this. The same is true in our pets. Pay attention to any behavioral changes, such as clinginess or isolation, growling, hissing, or other behaviors that suddenly arise.
If your canine companion is experiencing any of these signs, please don’t wait. Have him or her examined by scheduling an appointment with the West Park Animal Hospital team.
Although it would be helpful if our pets could directly communicate with us, they do in their own ways. Understanding the cues can help prevent the progression of disease or injury and keep your pet pain-free.