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Signs of Pain or Discomfort in Dogs

When your furry friend experiences an accident or illness, they may display some telltale symptoms that they need care. In this post, our Cumming vets share the signs of pain or discomfort in dogs, what you should know about pain and when to bring them to a veterinarian. 

Why It's Hard to Tell if Your Dog is in Pain

Before becoming domesticated pets, dogs had to conceal their pain as a survival strategy. As a result, you may not always notice when your dog is uncomfortable. Not all dog pain manifests as a limping leg or a whimper!

If you understand your dog's temperament and personality, you should be able to detect signs of pain by watching for abnormal behavior. It is critical to be able to identify this behavior so that your dog can receive timely care.

What will a dog do if they are in pain?

Dogs hide their pain for as long as possible until symptoms become apparent and humans notice. In wild species, being adept at concealing signs of disease, injury and pain can prevent animals from being perceived as weak and an easy target by predators. You may need to watch closely, but if you notice signs that your dog is in pain, you should bring them to the vet for treatment. Early detection of disease or illness leads to better health outcomes and fewer long-term complications.

Types of Pain a Dog Can Experience

Like people, dogs can suffer from various health conditions that cause acute (sudden onset) or chronic (long-term, recurring) pain, such as dental issues or organ disorders.

Tumors and different types of cancer can also lead to pain. Acute pain can be caused by a foreign object getting stuck in its paw, an injury while walking, a fall, an accident, or other mishaps. 

A dog of any age may contract parasites, leading to pain or discomfort. External parasites, like ear mites, burrow and feed on the skin, causing rashes and open wounds, which are sometimes worsened by scratching. Internal parasites, such as roundworms, can cause uncomfortable bloating, blockages or vomiting.

As your dog becomes a senior, they may begin to experience issues affecting their joints. This can cause pain and stiffness, making it difficult to get around.

Signs a Dog is in Pain

You may wonder how to know if your dog is in pain. There are a few subtle and clear symptoms that you can watch for. These include:

  • Significant decrease in appetite 
  • Tail tucked in or lowered
  • Spending more, or less, time sleeping
  • Yelping or whining 
  • Irritability (such as growling, or even biting, when touched)
  • Limping 
  • Reluctance to climb stairs or jump 
  • Reduced play or enjoyment of exercise 

If your once active, outgoing, and friendly dog now cowers when pet, refuses to play, or loses its appetite, it could be due to pain or discomfort. Changes in behavior may indicate pain and should be reported to your veterinarian, who will examine your dog and diagnose the underlying issue.

While the pain may keep them awake at night, it may also cause them to sleep much more than usual. This will depend on the type of pain and how your dog's body responds.

Treating Pain & Discomfort in Dogs

Depending on the source of your pet's pain and the diagnosis, we may recommend pain medication, wound care, various therapies, or surgery. Our veterinarians offer various elective and non-elective surgical procedures, such as soft tissue surgery, orthopedic surgery, and dental surgery.

When to Bring Your Dog to the Emergency Vet

With signs of severe pain in dogs, such as crying, whimpering, or refusing to move, it is best to immediately bring them to the emergency vet. Additionally, if your dog is experiencing discomfort from a recent injury or signs like vomiting after ingesting a toxin, it is important to seek immediate veterinary care.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog experiencing pain or discomfort? Contact our vets in Cumming to schedule an examination today. We are here to help.

New Patients Welcome

Crestview Animal Hospital & Emergency is always welcoming new patients! Our Cumming vets provide veterinary services designed to promote good health and longevity. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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