Signs & Symptoms of a Dog Who Is in Pain

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Two dogs resting on the floor together.
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Pain can affect your dog's ability to eat, sleep and play comfortably. Your dog's body language is his way of speaking to you as well as his way of telling you that something is wrong with him. Your dog can display a number of different behaviors when he is in pain.


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Physical Signs of Pain

Common physical indicators that your dog is in pain include licking, biting and scratching a particular area of the body. You may notice he is walking or moving in a different manner. You may see him limping, hunching his back or otherwise favoring a part of his body. He may appear to be sitting or lying in a strange position. He may be reluctant to lie down or get back up or he may do both repeatedly, as if he is unable to get comfortable.


Behavioral Signs of Pain

Behavioral signs of pain can include a sudden change in personality, an unwillingness to interact and aggressive behavior. Your dog may pin his ears or vocalize his discomfort by growling, whimpering, snarling, howling, yelping, groaning or grunting. A dog in pain may not want to play with you or other pets. Watch how your dog interacts with your other pets as well as with family members and separate him if appropriate.


Treating Your Dog's Pain

Pain is almost always a secondary condition, meaning it is a symptom of a health problem rather than the actual problem. Providing a hurting animal with pain medication won't solve the problem if he has an underlying condition causing the pain. If you think your dog is in pain, seek immediate veterinary care.


Pain Management

Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat your dog's pain. In the meantime, you should make an effort to keep your dog comfortable while he heals. Move his food and water dishes and other supplies to a smaller area to minimize his movement. You may want to house your dog in an area of your home where he will not have to travel across obstacles, such as stairs. If other animals or children appear to be bothering or hurting your dog, separate him until he recovers.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.



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