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Ask Dr. Chris

Don’t Push Them Til They Break

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It seems I’ve been seeing a trend recently with dogs and their pet parents, causing some of them to end up in the emergency hospital.

I have been noticing a common theme in the background story of quite a few patients.

The common story goes like this:

“I noticed Jinx was not acting quite as playful as usual on Wednesday. On Thursday, I noticed he didn’t want to go up stairs but he seemed to be eating ok.  I took him to the park to play ball because I thought he was depressed and when I got home, he didn’t want to jump on the bed. After coaxing him, he finally did. Now, he has been whining and can’t get comfortable and he even yelps out of the blue sometimes. What could be wrong?”

Or another one…

“Cleo woke up this morning and just didn’t eat as much as she usually does and was acting kind of depressed.  I took her for a long walk and she collapsed on the way and she couldn’t get up. I had to call my husband to bring the car and pick her up to bring her here because I couldn’t lift an 78 lb Labrador.”

What is the common theme here?  Both of these dogs were telling their pet parents that something was wrong and they didn’t want to do much. The problem is, their owners didn’t speak their language or read their cues.

There are over a dozen more of these that I have heard recently and I thought I’d share this to help you avoid the emergency room.

Dogs will rarely cry or whimper when they have mild or moderate pain. Their pain has to be severe before they will show major symptoms.  Most often, they will just change the way they move or want to be less active when they aren’t feeling well or hurt.

Be aware of these subtle changes and don’t push them to exercise when they may be hurting. In several of these cases, pet parents unknowingly pushed their fur babies to a breaking point where they needed emergency medical care.

Some of these dogs probably would have ended up needing veterinary care because of the symptoms and diseases that were developing but, some of them were pushed to exercise when what they needed was rest, time and healing.

Learn to read your dog’s cues, pay attention to subtle changes in their behavior, and don’t push them til they break.

Take good care of the puppies!

Dr. Chris
Your Dog’s Favorite Vet

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  1. Avatar Of Cary M

    Cary M


    First time I have read your page and I am very pleased at the information you have here. My husband always thinks i over react and won’t stop yacking at me when I rush the pets to the vet, but when I leave with meds, xrays and a diagnosis he is surprisingly quiet. Always listen and learn to speak their language. Honestly….we are not the superior species. Animals speak a language of love and understanding that we only have a small capacity to grasp.

  2. Avatar Of Mandy B

    Mandy B


    as an emergency veterinary technician I see this multiple times every day. Clients call because their dog hasn’t eaten since Wednesday (it’s Saturday night) or has been lethargic for three days and it’s 4am Sunday morning, or “Can’t this wait until my regular vet opens?” Their dog will be painful and lethargic and not eating and they ask me “what signs should I look for to know I should have them seen?” my response is um all the signs you just descried that have been going on for multiple days! But it’s like I called them in the middle of the night to try and convince them something was wrong with their perfectly healthy active dog!

  3. Avatar Of Donna



    I’m always amazed at how we, the human race, the “superior species” completely fail our pets by not understanding a language that is truly so simple. Seriously makes me reconsider who is actually the truer superior species.

  4. Avatar Of Lois R.

    Lois R.


    you have to pay attention to all the little details of your babies. they are trying to tell you what is going on, they are telling you, hey, mom, dad, i don’t feel so good, help me please. look in their eyes, you will notice a subtle change in them, they are in pain. start gently touching them and watch them, they will tell you where they hurt and how bad it is. my little guy could come to me and i could tell right off what was going on because from the time he was a little baby i paid attention to his eyes.

    • Avatar Of Vicki



      God bless you for being such a wonderful pet parent and sharing your knowledge and expertise.

    • Avatar Of Kathy Cumberledge

      Kathy Cumberledge


      ALWAYS look your “furry” loved members in the eyes. As in human…they will ALWAYS tell you what they are feeling, either happy or in pain through the “windows of their eyes.” That is only if you are a caring soul of loved ones, being “furry” or otherwise. PLEASE TAKE NOTICE of ANY unusual behavior with your pets….they rely on your judgement, one being of a kind, caring and loving soul. PLEASE, PLEASE BE KIND TO THE BEST OF FRIENDS THAT WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU….IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE AND IN ANY SITUATION. PLEASE SHOW THE RESPECT AND LOVE IN RETURN….THERE WILL NEVER BE ANYONE MORE FAITHFUL THAN THEM!!!!!!! PLEASE PASS ON….

    • Avatar Of Elaine Kovacs

      elaine kovacs


      their eyes speak to you.

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