Staying Healthy

6 Signs That Your Dog May Be in Pain

patientDogs generally experience pain for many of the same reasons that we do: dental issues, arthritis, physical injuries, or just not feeling well in general. But dogs cannot speak human, so having the ability to read your pooch and see when something is not right is an important to ensuring his health and quality of life. Being able to tell if your pooch is feeling pain is crucial in identifying the cause and allowing you to respond immediately to find the appropriate treatment.

You’ll know something may be wrong if…

1. Your dog cries out in pain. Vocalization is one of the closest things that dogs have to speaking.  It’s one of their most obvious ways to communicate that something hurts. If your pooch whines and whimpers for no clear reason, this can be a sign that he is in pain.

2. Your dog starts limping. This is another rather straightforward symptom that you should watch out for. Dogs maybe hobbling or walking lamely for various reasons, usually all of them associated with some sort of discomfort. Limping can be the result of a wide variety of issues ranging from arthritis or joint pain, to back or knee injury, to pain in the foot or paw pad.

3. Your dog pants excessively. Because panting is a very normal thing for pooches, this particular indicator of pain can be rather tricky. When your dog pants at unusual times, such as the middle of the night, or when he’s been resting and shouldn’t be out of breath or thirsty, especially if the panting is associated with trembling, there could be a real problem.

4. Your dog licks a localized spot too much. Most dogs lick their throbbing wounds, stinging paw pads, tender broken toe nails, and other parts of their body when they are in pain. Although it doesn’t always suggest soreness, you can tell if something is wrong when you catch your furball licking and chewing a certain spot on his body over and over again.

5. Your dog is hesitant to get up or sleeps more than usual. Dogs have a natural, instinctual tendency to hide their pain. As pet parents, it’s important to make note of even the most subtle changes in our dog’s typical behavior. Of course, if a dog is suddenly very slow getting up or hesitates to walk, it becomes clear fairly quickly that something is wrong. Other dogs, however, may only slow down slightly, or may simply appear to me sleepier than normal.

6. Your dog’s temperament and behavior suddenly changes. Like us, dogs can also get a little irritable when they aren’t feeling well. A dog that is normally pleasant and friendly could become aggressive without warning when he’s in pain. He may even try to bite, especially if the area that hurts is touched. Other pooches may all of a sudden appear more needy and may seek more attention from people than usual. Loss of appetite may also be observable.

If you think Fido is not feeling well, a trip to your veterinarian may be necessary. There are many pain relief options available for dogs nowadays, but before trying any of them, make sure that you discuss the situation with your vet. Never, ever give your pooch over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen and Tylenol as these drugs are very toxic to dogs.



  1. Joseph

    Jun 16, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    When my dog was in pain I could tell because of the limp. We brought her to the vet and it turned out to be a torn ACL. She was only 5 at the time so we decided to operate on her.. which wasn’t an easy process to go through but well worth it in the end. For her recovery we used an Ortocanis dog knee brace on the knee that was operated on in order to help support it as it healed. Wouldn’t have done anything different.

  2. Vicki

    May 9, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    My little chorkie starting yelping one night as he jumped down one step into the yard. He began limping on his back leg. I took him to the vet the next day and he was diagnosed with a luxating patella. Poor guy, he’s only a year old. He’s on pain meds as needed, and will permanently be taking a glucosamine supplement from the vet.

    • liz

      May 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Hi, don’t spend out vast sums of money on supplements from your vet. You can buy Glucosamine and Chondroitin from any health outlet far cheaper and you cannot overdose on these supplements. I use them for my little poodle X as his back leg joints had major surgery. He’s thriving and my vet is pleased.

  3. Marian

    May 9, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I lost three Yorkies to pancreatitis and it broke my heart. Each one started panting and I took them to the vet immediately. Two had expensive treatment and it helped them but pancreatitis eventually weakened their hearts. After the first two died, I recognized it in the third one from her panting. I did not want to put her through the pain of her weakened heart so I had her put to sleep. I now have a rescue Chihuahua and pray her doesn’t get pancreatitis. I miss my Yorkies so much.

    • n white

      May 10, 2014 at 12:28 am

      Pancreatitis can be caused/exacerbated by diet. Has your vet discussed this at all?

    • n white

      May 10, 2014 at 12:30 am

      What kind of diet were the Yorkies on?

  4. Carole Michael

    May 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Our Newfie is 4 and has always loved his walks. The last several wks he occasionally comes to me, sits beside me. It is obvious he has made a decision not to go walking on that day. We live in Memphis, TN. Does he not want to get hot? Does he have some achy joints that day? Any ideas? Thank you

    • Marian

      May 9, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      I would have him checked. I massage my Chihuahua nightly and he loves I. But it could be painful for your dog if he has arthritis. Being only 4 (the same age as my dog) I’d have him checked by a vet if he continues not wanting to walk.

    • Hollie

      May 9, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      How old is he? Large breeds are prone to hip dispacia and back problems. Also could be arthritis. I’d get him looked a just to be safe. It may be as simple as needing to give hima supplement for his joins.

    • Ann Tipton Clemment

      Jun 19, 2014 at 10:30 am

      Not wanting to walk can be muscle pain as well as the joints. He may have stressed some tendons or ligaments. Also, some types of abdominal pain can cause an animal to not want to move. Feeding consistently can prevent some of that. Watch for gassiness, too. Just noting these things in the spirit of providing data.

  5. Joan

    May 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Shivering is also a sign of pain. (or being cold or excited)

  6. Marian Murdoch

    Feb 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    This is an informational site, not an “ask us questions and we’ll respond” site. If you’re having issues with your pet, call your vet, don’t ask on a random website.

    This is a nice article, thanks!

    Unfortunately, dogs don’t often show signs of weakness until they are very sick. It’s a survival mechanism. It certainly doesn’t help us keep them healthy. My german shepherd had regular vet visits and we never knew he had invasive cancer until it was really far along. He never showed any signs until the end, when he started doing a strange retching action and we rushed him to the vet.

    Always remember, as nice as these articles are, they are not a substitute for a discussion with your own pet’s veterinarian.

  7. Deb Boariu

    Feb 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks good information. I noticed my 10 year old dash hound now on blood pressure medication and lasix, is very thirsty , then is up either drinking or wanting outside all thru night. its like a new born child, no rest for me, any sugestions ?

    • ReeDee

      May 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      How’s your doxie doing now?

    • Mimi

      May 9, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Lasix is a diuretic designed to rid the body of excess fluid that may accumulate with heart disease… That is the reason for the excess thirst and needing to go outside.

    • Cheryl Reese

      May 9, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      Drinking a lot of water can be a sign of Diabetes. If you haven’t had a blood test to check for this, you should look into it.

      • liz

        May 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        And onset liver disease. I just lost a JRT with theses symptoms. Turns out she had a liver tumour.

    • Ann Tipton Clemment

      Jun 19, 2014 at 10:34 am

      My beagle needed a shot of Lasix, and it took a week to get out of his system. He couldn’t control his bladder well and drank water constantly for that week. Now he’s fine, since he only needed the one shot. Diabetes also presents with these symptoms among others. Either way, whether it’s the drug or a real serious issue, I’d see the vet.

  8. Carole Whittington

    Feb 3, 2014 at 10:54 am

    what about if your pet howls all of the sudden when seeing out pooches walk into the room. ?

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