Signs of Pain & Discomfort in Dogs

Seeing your dog in pain or discomfort can be concerning. In this post, our vets in Novato will explain how dogs typically handle pain or discomfort, how they demonstrate it, and how to recognize signs indicating your dog is suffering and may need urgent care.

How to Tell If Your Dog is in Pain

Before becoming domesticated pets, dogs concealed their pain as a survival tactic. Consequently, owners might not always recognize their pup experiencing physical discomfort. Not all signs of puppy pain manifest through limping legs or whimpers!

By understanding your dog's temperament and personality, you can identify pain signs by observing abnormal behavior. Recognizing these cues is crucial for promptly providing care to your dog.

How Dogs Handle Pain

Dogs often conceal their pain until symptoms emerge and their owners notice. Concealing signs of disease, injury, and pain in wild species helps them avoid appearing weak to predators, making them less vulnerable.

If your dog shows any signs of pain or discomfort, it's crucial to address and treat them promptly with veterinary care. Early detection of disease or illness results in better health outcomes, fewer long-term complications, and reduced risks during treatment.

Types of Pain a Dog Can Experience

Just like people, dogs can experience a range of health conditions causing acute or chronic pain, including dental issues or organ disorders. Pain can also stem from tumors or various types of cancer.

Acute pain may result from foreign objects getting lodged in their paws, injuries during exercise, falls, accidents, or other incidents.

Parasites can afflict dogs of any age, leading to disease or infection.

Additionally, senior dogs might endure pain due to joint or bone disorders, diabetes, or other health problems.

Signs a Dog is in Pain

Many dog parents often ask us how to recognize if their dog is in pain. You can watch for a few subtle, clear symptoms indicating your dog's discomfort or pain.

  • Significant decrease in appetite 
  • Tail tucked in or lowered
  • Spending more time sleeping
  • Yelping or whining 
  • Irritability 
  • Limping 
  • Reluctance to climb stairs or jump 
  • Reduced play or enjoyment of exercise 

If your once active, outgoing, and friendly pup now cowers away from being a pet, refuses to play, or loses its appetite, it might be experiencing pain or discomfort.

Changes in behavior could signal pain and warrant attention from your veterinarian, who can examine your dog and diagnose any underlying health issues.

Pain can tire dogs more quickly, similar to humans, so it's essential to address it promptly. If your dog's pain has become problematic recently or if they are experiencing chronic pain, you may observe increased sleeping.

How Pain in Dogs is Treated

Depending on the cause of your pet's pain and their diagnosis, we may recommend treatment options such as administering pain medication, providing wound care, offering various therapies, or conducting surgery.

Our veterinarians specialize in performing a wide variety of elective and non-elective surgical procedures, including soft tissue surgery, orthopedic surgery, dental surgery, removal of foreign bodies or masses, and more.

Do you suspect your dog is experiencing some pain or discomfort? Contact our Novato veterinarians today to book your dog a physical examination.