Dog pain can manifest itself in extremely different ways. I have experienced this myself with my dogs. Sometimes pain leads to sudden whining, listlessness, loss of appetite and maybe even aggression. Another time the dog shows pain due to violent and uncontrolled movements So that you can determine pain in your dog as quickly and well as possible, I will show you my 3-point plan and 14 specific signs of pain in the dog. Because for your dog you have to be the professional to quickly recognize pain in your dog and act quickly!
1. Dog pain – the facts
Unfortunately dogs cannot speak. You cannot tell where it hurts and tweakes and what movements hurt. Unfortunately. The most important thing you need to know about dog pain is three facts.
- Every dog expresses pain differently.
- Dogs don’t simulate pain.
- You are required to take your dog’s pain seriously.
Some dogs are real professionals in not showing pain so clearly. Others whine at the slightest feeling of pain. Pain is as different as there are dogs on our planet. There are hardly any differences between humans and dogs. For you, this means: just because your dog shows hardly any pain does not mean that he does not have enormous pain. Therefore, you have to look very closely and observe and take every painful expression of your dog seriously and have it examined and treated by the veterinarian and / or veterinary practitioner. Because if dogs can’t do one thing, it’s simulation. What differentiates them from humans Menschen.
2. The 3-point pain check for your dog
There is a kind of timetable that I always go through when I notice changes in my dogs that may indicate pain. It looks like this:
2.1 YOUR gut feeling – something is wrong
Pain in dogs is often not so clear. Sure, if your dog limps or squeals from pain, it’s clearly a sign of pain. I have had the experience that recognizing pain in your own dog very often begins with a first gut feeling. There is a moment when you sense that something is wrong. These can be tiny changes in behavior that you don’t even notice. But you notice: something is different. Somehow the dog behaves differently. It works differently. Is different or behaves differently when eating, playing or sleeping. This gut feeling usually means that you take a closer look at the dog and its behavior, observe it almost continuously to see what exactly is different.
2.2 Sign check – what exactly is wrong?
There are so many different ways that pain manifests itself in the dog.
Not only for your clarity, but also for the diagnosis at the veterinarian, it is important to clearly perceive and collect signs.
If you can’t clearly pinpoint where your dog’s problem is, see what’s going on.
Does your dog smack and salivate more, for example? If so, in which situations and with which movements? Is the expression on his face different? If so, does it move as smoothly as usual? Or does he avoid certain movements? Does he feel like playing and meeting other dogs? Is he more nervous, aggressive, restless or a lot calmer than usual? Is he, as always, licking more frequently on certain parts of the body?
Before dogs express pain really violently, many of them have already gone through an unnoticed path of suffering.
You can find out what signs of pain can bring you under the point “Pain signs in the dog” below.
2.3 Observation – how bad is it?
If the signs are not clear, I usually watch my dogs very closely over 24 hours and then decide whether to take them to the vet.
Dogs also have bad days, are tired, sluggish, or they are too warm. Therefore, small changes in behavior do not necessarily have to be related to pain.
When I know that my dogs have had some real action in the past two days, I am not surprised that they need a lot more rest the next day and want to sleep.
That is why point 1 is important. Your gut feeling. You know your dog best and can best estimate whether your dog is simply not having the most active day or whether there is a problem.
However, it is always important: If you have an uncomfortable feeling, you cannot explain the changed behavior or if you find clear pain signs (see below) that may get worse, then please go to the vet with your dog immediately!
3. Signs of pain in the dog
Since your dog unfortunately cannot tell you if and what is hurting you, you should be fit to recognize signs of pain.
It is also important to know that there are certain signs that can indicate pain, but can also already be the sign of a certain illness.
For example, strong saliva can be a sign of pain in dogs. However, it can also occur if the dog has a foreign body in its mouth (in the mucous membrane) or occurs as a side effect of poisoning.
Another example: a dog that suddenly no longer wants to eat and / or drink. Either way an alarm signal. Now the changed eating behavior can be justified in pain. But it could also be that your dog is insanely sick.
In this example, too, you can see that the boundaries between pain signs and symptoms of illness are often not so clearly discernible. Not least because of this, you should go to the veterinarian yesterday rather than tomorrow with such abnormalities.
Here I show you the most important and common signs of pain in dogs. Please keep in mind that your dog can show pain in a completely different way.
3.1 Whine, whine, whine, squeak, scream
Whine, whine, whine, and scream are usually unmistakable signs of your dog’s pain.Some dog owners even feel that their dog is screaming in pain. Others report permanent yawning.
A dog howling is usually the case right at the moment of a great feeling of pain. For example, if your dog steps into broken glass, gets injured while romping, or is bitten by another dog.
My bitch howled heartbreakingly loudly when I accidentally stepped on her paw. This squeak is still in my ear today. Fortunately, there was nothing in the end with the paw. But she was startled and felt pain.
That would be a classic example of a howl of pain, but it is not overly dramatic.
Important: Whine, whine or whine your dog, please check immediately if you find an obvious reason for it. For example, a wound or injury.
3.2 Heavy panting, smacking and saliva
Strong and long-lasting panting, as well as frequent smacking and increased saliva production can be signs of pain in your dog.
For example, some dogs smack when they make certain movements or touches.This is often a sign that it hurts “right there”.
3.3 Pinched tail
A pinched tail between the hind legs is not only a sign of fear in dogs, but can also indicate pain.
deceased bitch had expressed her pain with tremors during her first spondylosis episodes, so I thought she was hypothermic.
3.5 Facial expression
Your dog’s facial expression is probably more of the “soft sign” of pain. But I’ve heard from many dog owners that they can already see on their dog’s face whether something is wrong. you can confirm that by experience.
After living together for a while, you just know your dog too well to rush past you, that something is wrong when you look at him.
3.6 Changes in movements and posture
Yesterday your dog strutted across the meadow with swollen chest and body tension and now gives the impression of a sip of water?
This is often the case with pain in the musculoskeletal system and organs.
Sure, we also move and hold our body differently if we pinch a nerve in the back, tear a cruciate ligament or catch an inflammation of the stomach.
You may notice that your dog walks very stiff or even limps after getting up. He may also make a kind of hump with his back.
You should definitely have it examined. Problems in the musculoskeletal system are often to blame .
3.7 Loss of appetite, food and drink
Dogs with pain often change their drinking and feeding behavior. They may be drinking extremely much or extremely little. That they refuse to eat or eat only a minimal ration.
Some dogs even go on a regular food strike.
For a dog that otherwise ate and drank normally, loss of appetite is a very clear alarm signal.
3.8 General “strange” behavior
Sometimes you notice your dog a little clear and very clear pain. Instead, you are more concerned about your dog’s strange behavior.
Perhaps he behaves differently towards fellow species and people. Maybe he reacts differently to you as a caregiver. Maybe he won’t run into the kitchen as soon as the Viennese sausage pack rustles.
All of this can feel strange and different to you. I have learned in recent years to trust my feelings more on this point.
Sure, you don’t want something “wrong with the dog” and you like to push the feeling aside.
But I firmly believe that we all know our four-legged friends very well and that we all have a good nose for strange behavior and changes in our dogs.
Instead of pushing the thought away, I take another long look today when I get the feeling that something might be wrong.
3.9 Frequent licking and nibbling
Among other things, dogs “show” pain by licking or nibbling on certain parts of the body extremely frequently.
The reasons for this can be incredibly different. So my dog ”licked” an unnoticed strain on the front leg for hours before I noticed the whole thing. You can often see this from the fact that the fur changes color or changes at the licked areas.
Licking or nibbling on parts of the body can also indicate that a painful hot spot is developing somewhere , that your dog has a wound, skin problems or problems with parasites.
3.10 Listlessness and lack of energy
Does your dog hide more often? Is he just running listlessly to the gas lane? Does he somehow seem to be unable to provide energy for play and employment?
It may well be that your four-legged friend is lugging pain around and therefore has no desire or energy to run or play with you.
In the event of sudden extreme lethargy, you should definitely go to the veterinarian immediately.
3.11 Violent, uncontrolled movements
While the previous signs mostly point in the direction that the dog becomes sluggish and calm, pain can also manifest itself through violent movements.
It was only last summer that my dog must have stepped into a wasp, which consequently stung her paw. Literally as if stung by the tarantula, my bitch ran onto the terrace and knocked out with one hind leg rather uncontrollably. Over and over again.
In the first few seconds I had no chance to calm her down because she was running back and forth so violently and uncontrollably and was constantly kicking out with her hind leg. Similar to what you know from horses.
I also briefly thought of a “neurological problem”. Fortunately, I reached our veterinarian by phone. And we were even able to “solve” the problem on the phone.The wasp was to blame. After a few minutes with a cool pack and Traumeel, my dog felt much better.
It was similar when my dog thought that she had to chew on a stick. A fairly large splinter got caught in her palate between her molars.
And even there she freaked out because she couldn’t get the thing solved with her paws herself.
It was impossible to calm her down. Which is why I had to sit completely on my dog while I spread her mouth with one hand and removed the splinter with the other hand.
You see, pain is not always associated with the dog becoming calm, listless or “different”, but can also be very clear and violent.
Pain can also show up when your dog is actually as usual, but he just doesn’t want to do certain things anymore.
It may be that he stops in front of the stairs and does not want to go up. It may also be that he no longer cuddles with you on the sofa or you have to lift him out of the car because he doesn’t want to get out of there by himself.
Avoiding certain activities also means avoiding certain movements that hurt.
If your dog abruptly exhibits such avoiding behavior, this can certainly indicate pain that your dog sensibly shy away from.
With torn ligaments on the trampoline? After all, we humans wouldn’t do either.
3.13 Scaly, shaggy and lackluster fur & changed smell
Fur changes may not be a primary signal for pain, but they can also be an indicator that something is wrong with your four-legged friend.
There are said to be dogs that suddenly lose fur even under stress and pain. That should also give you reason to observe and act.
3.14 Prayer position
The so-called prayer position in dogs is known for very, very serious pain and problems. Sometimes this position is also called the sphinx position.
What does this prayer position look like? Your dog lies flat on the floor with the front paws and the front chest area while the hind legs are extended. So he stretches his buttock upwards, but lies with his front body. Similar to a game request or an extensive yawn and stretch.
If your dog is in this position, the highest alarm level applies.
Often this prayer position is accompanied by vomiting, a bloated stomach, restlessness, heavy panting, foam on the mouth or apathy and the hump of the cat.
Dogs take up this position to relieve the abdominal area.
If you determine this position with the complaints mentioned, it can be, among other things, an intestinal obstruction, poisoning or a stomach twist.
Therefore, you should pack your dog in such a situation immediately and visit the nearest veterinarian! This is likely to be a serious emergency.
4. What you should never do when your dog is in pain!
No matter what signs your dog shows, never give him arbitrary pain relievers that are actually intended for humans.
In the worst case, you can do even more damage.
There are certainly pain relievers for people that are prescribed in a very specific dosage and in very specific cases by veterinarians for dogs. It would be fatal to arbitrarily decide that!
You should also not conduct any experiments with pain relievers for dogs if it is not at all clear what problems your dog actually has. And just because the neighbor may have a few pain tablets left over from her dog’s last treatment does not mean that these pain tablets are now suitable for your dog in this dosage and situation.
If you know your dog is suffering from osteoarthritis and you have received a pain reliever from your veterinarian that you can use if necessary, it is a completely different matter.
Identifying pain in your dog means assuming responsibility for you and you can only assume it by visiting a (familiar) veterinarian and having it clarified where the pain comes from.
Unfortunately, I read this too often in forums that “human medication” is recommended and used almost like smarties for dogs, without actually knowing why the dog feels uncomfortable, so I unfortunately think this note is very appropriate.
Love your dogs ♥