dog in pain
Dog health

Is your dog in pain? Some ways to tell.

dog in pain

Is your dog in pain? How do you know? They can’t tell you like your child or another human being since dogs aren’t built to speak words. Sometimes you can catch them saying what sounds like a word, but anything more than that has absolutely no chance of passing through their lips.

Since they can’t tell you in words, does that mean they don’t hurt? Of course not. Here are some clues to watch for.

What are the clues when your dog is in pain?

You can’t feel when your dog hurts, but you probably have a pretty good idea of what causes it for you. The chances are that if something caused you discomfort, it would cause your dog to hurt also. That’s the first thing to consider.

Another clue could show itself in the way your dog reacts to things. When they react as if it hurts, pay attention. When your dog yelps or pulls away from you, especially if you have reason to expect that they hurt, they probably are actually in pain.

Dogs can be pretty stoic, so they may not show that they hurt. And if you didn’t see anything happen to make you suspect pain, it’s not as obvious. But that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt. Things like arthritis or an ear infection can hurt, even though you can’t see the cause.

To gather more clues, you have to watch what else your dog is doing. This is where you have to do a little detective work. If your dog is in pain, you might see

  • Limping
  • Shaking of the head
  • Licking a part of their body repeatedly
  • Refusing to go outside or do other activities they normally like
  • Hiding or otherwise isolating
  • Cranky or irritable behavior
  • Restlessness
dog in pain

What else do you notice?

When you look at your dog, what do you see? Are those eyes bright and happy? A dog in pain will often show it in their eyes. Instead of looking bright and happy, they might look droopy, a bit more closed than normal.

Is their tail wagging enthusiastically? Is their body position relaxed, excited, or something else? Their tail might wag a little, but more out of a willingness to please you than out of enthusiasm. Dogs wag their tails for lots of reasons other than just being happy. Which wag do you see?

Then look at the way they stand, lie down, or sit. An uncomfortable dog might look tense or hold a part of the body oddly. Sometimes, to relieve the discomfort, your dog will position themselves in a way that seems off.

Is your dog in pain from chronic issues?

If your dog has an ongoing issue, you have to watch for other clues. If their previously shiny, healthy-looking fur gets dull or looks different, that can be a sign of pain. Losing weight or having a poor appetite can also be a clue since dogs in pain don’t tend to eat well.

Even with a pain management plan in place, sometimes it isn’t enough. On bad days, you may need to have some other options ready. The main thing to do is be familiar with your dog and recognize when they’re having trouble.

dog in pain

Know if you have a dog in pain

That’s the most important part. If you don’t recognize the clues, you might miss opportunities to make life better for your dog. Sometimes, there is nothing else to try, and you have to address that situation when it comes. But until then, being ready with options can help you both feel better.

For more information, read this helpful post from I also have several posts that can help give you options.

How do you know if your dog is in pain

Nonverbal dog communication

Alternative dog health

Massage for dogs

Using CBD oil for dogs

How have you addressed issues with your dog? Let me know in the comments below.

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