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


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As a pet owner, it is important to be aware of signs that could indicate your dog is in pain. Dogs are very good at hiding pain as showing vulnerability in the wild could make them more susceptible to attacks from predators. However, there are some tells an owner can look out for to assess if their furry friend needs some TLC. This article will cover common signs a dog may be in discomfort and suggest steps owners can take to provide relief.

Body Language And Facial Expressions

One way to gauge if a dog is hurting is to pay attention to its body language and facial expressions. A dog experiencing pain may tense up and hold its body very stiffly rather than moving freely. They may also flinch or pull away if touched in a certain area. Dogs in pain commonly express discomfort through whining, growling, or crying out. They also may pant heavily even if not warm or energetic. A dog could appear anxious or depressed rather than playful and energetic as usual. It may cower or hide rather than come forward for affection and treats. Their eyes may have prominent whites giving a scared or worried look. Another sign is licking, chewing, or biting at a certain area of their body. Subtle signs like these could indicate an underlying issue causing the dog discomfort that needs addressing.

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Changes In Behavior

Pain may also result in behavior changes from what is normal for that dog. Reduced appetite or not eating at all could be a sign. Dogs in pain may have difficulty getting comfortable and be unable to find a position to lie in. They may show reluctance or inability to play, walk, climb stairs, or carry out other physical activities. Increased aggression or fearfulness when touched in a certain spot or all over are signs. Withdrawing from family members and isolating could indicate discomfort. Accidents in the house when previously housetrained may also occur. At night a dog in pain may whimper or cry instead of sleeping quietly.

Vocalizations And Guarding Behavior

Dogs experiencing pain may vocalize more through whining, crying, or even growling if an area is touched. They may also guard or protect the painful area by laying on it, covering it with a paw, or snapping if approached. A dog could become defensive and snap if an owner attempts to examine or touch the area. This may cause the dog to seem stressed, anxious, or restless rather than relaxed. These behaviors are signs the dog needs medical attention.

Evaluation Of Injuries And Check For Obvious Signs

If behaviors suggest pain, carefully evaluate any injuries, wounds, or swelling the dog has sustained. Look out for cuts, puncture marks, abrasions, or open sores. Also check for bruising or discoloration of the skin, swelling, or abnormal lumps anywhere on the body. Stiffness or limping favoring one leg over others are signs. Difficulty getting up from a lying down position points to an issue needing a vet diagnosis and treatment plan.

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What To Do If You Suspect Pain

If multiple signs discussed above are present, it is best to schedule a vet visit as soon as possible. In the meantime, owners can provide pain medication recommended by the vet such as tramadol. They can apply cold or warm compress depending on the injury. Keeping the dog calm and rested in a comfortable space is important. If unable to eat on their own due to mouth pain, syringe feeding is suggested. Owners should monitor symptoms and see the vet immediately if severe. The goal is to provide relief until proper medical care can be sought. Never attempt diagnosing or treating without vet guidance as some issues could be serious. Always contact a vet if concerned.

Specific Causes Of Pain

There are many reasons a dog may be experiencing discomfort ranging from minor injuries to life-threatening conditions. Some common causes to watch out for include orthopedic issues like fractures, torn ligaments, or degenerative joint disease. Wounds, bites, cuts, and punctures from fights or accidents could also cause pain. Digestive upset from xylitol poisoning in dogs and cats which can cause low blood sugar is another potential reason. Intra-abdominal problems like bloating, volvulus, or intestinal blockage may also be to blame. Neurological problems affecting the spine or nerves are signs something is wrong. Dental issues involving infected, cracked, or abscessed teeth commonly produce pain. Ear or eye infections, abscesses, and other inflammatory conditions as well should not be overlooked. Tumors, cancerous growths, or hernias in any part of the body need prompt care. Pain could also result from exposure to toxins, allergies, immune-mediated diseases, or endocrine disorders. A thorough vet exam can uncover the root cause and guide treatment.

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To Wrap Up

As a caring pet parent, it is important to know your dog well enough to recognize subtle signs of distress. Being watchful of behavior changes, body language, vocalizations, and injuries can help determine if medical attention is warranted. Consulting a vet for evaluation and recommended management options provides the best chance of identifying the issue and getting your furry friend feeling better. With awareness and prompt veterinary care, the discomfort experienced by dogs does not have to last long.