It can be concerning to see your dog suffering from pain or discomfort. In this post, our Pleasant Hill veterinarians explain how dogs tend to handle this, how to know if a dog is in pain, and when they might require urgent care.
Signs a Dog is in Pain
Dogs are exceptional at hiding symptoms of pain. While this served them well as a survival tactic before they were domesticated as pets, it's not great for owners of domesticated dogs who want to make sure their pup's quality of life and well-being is the best it can be. Thus, how to tell if your dog is in pain can be difficult.
With a good understanding of your dog's temperament and personality and by keeping an eye out for abnormal behaviors that can point to pain or discomfort, you'll be prepared to notice subtle signs of pain in your dog. You'll then need to act on them appropriately and in a timely fashion.
How Dogs Handle Pain
Dogs will hide their pain for as long as possible until symptoms appear and their humans notice. Being skilled at concealing signs of disease, injury, and pain in wild species can keep animals from being perceived as weak by predators - and thus an easy target.
Any sign of pain or discomfort in your dog should be addressed and treated by a veterinarian if necessary, as early detection of disease or illness leads to better health outcomes, fewer long-term complications, and less risk during treatment.
Types of Pain a Dog Can Experience
Just like humans, our dogs can suffer from a variety of health conditions that cause acute or chronic pain, such as dental health issues or internal conditions from heart-related and immune system disorders to gastrointestinal issues. 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 exercising, a fall, an accident, or other mishaps.
A dog of any age may contract parasites and suffer subsequent disease or infection. Senior dogs may experience pain from joint or bone disorders. diabetes or other health issues.
Signs a Dog is in Pain
Many dog parents come to us wondering how to know if their dog is in pain. There are a few subtle and clear symptoms you can watch for. Signs your dog is in pain or discomfort may include:
- Significant decrease in appetite
- Tail tucked in or lowered
- Spending more time sleeping
- Yelping or whining
- Reluctance to climb stairs or jump
- Reduced play or enjoyment of exercise
If your previously physically active, outgoing, and friendly pup now cowers away from being a 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 addressed by your veterinarian, who can examine your dog and diagnose the underlying health problem or condition. Many dogs become tired more easily because pain can exhaust them just like it does humans. If your dog's pain has recently become a problem or they are in chronic pain, you may notice them sleeping more.
If you notice your dog suffering from pain and showing symptoms, contact your vet so the underlying issue can be diagnosed. If your pup has been injured and the pain is accompanied by bleeding, loss of consciousness, vomiting, or diarrhea, this is considered a veterinary emergency that should be treated right away. Our vets in Pleasant Hill can also detect, diagnose and treat health conditions that cause chronic pain.
How Pain in Dogs is Treated
We may recommend pain medication, wound care, various therapies, or surgery depending on the cause of your pet's pain and its diagnosis. Elective and non-elective surgical procedures performed by our veterinarians include soft tissue surgery, orthopedic surgery, dental surgery, foreign body or mass removal, and more.