How do you know if your Dog is in pain?

I see a number of dogs with conditions such as arthritis or hip dysplasia  where the owners say their dogs are very stiff when rising from lying –  particularly first thing in the morning, or they limp when they’ve been for a walk but they say they don’t seem to be in pain because they don’t yelp or whimper. As people we limp if we’ve injured ourselves or struggle to get out of bed sometimes because it hurts. If it’s really sore we might shout out initially but as we get used to being that way we stop making the sounds associated with pain and just show the behaviours. Dogs are pre-programmed not to show pain as that puts them in a vulnerable position which means they might be attacked and so often not only will they not vocalise their pain but they won’t appear to have any physical problem at all.

Here is a list of behaviours to look out for which may indicate that your dog is experiencing pain

  • Limping
  • Stops interacting
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Un-groomed appearance
  • Reluctance to stretch
  • Repeated stretching
  • Hunched posture
  • Withdraws when approached
  • Salivation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Incessant licking
  • Vocalisation
  • Growls when approached
  • Attacks when approached
  • Rigid and non-responsive.

More subtle signs of pain may include licking you when you stroke them as a diversionary tactic, yawning while you stroke them, and becoming clumsy as they become less agile.

Any of these signs could be an indication of a condition which could be relieved using massage.

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