Vet's Corner

Past Arguments About Whether Dogs Feel Pain

Were you aware that there have been many heated past arguments about whether dogs feel pain? I wasn’t until some reading I did a while back that pointed out the history of these debates. I’ve had dogs all my life, and I know they do, so I never gave it a thought.

Scientists and pet experts have been debating about it for years, and there has been much research done on the subject. They have all come to the general conclusion that dogs do indeed feel pain and suffering, basically the same as we humans do.

Past Arguments About Whether Dogs Feel Pain

Because the ancestors of dogs were wolves or wolf-like, their behavior caused people to think that dogs did not feel pain. Wolves and dogs in the wild have the tendency to hide their pain because of the fact that dogs that express pain are thought of as weak. And weak dogs are usually either attacked and killed or driven off and left behind by the pack to die. Another thing is that when a dog shows pain, he appears to be easy prey to other bigger and stronger animals in the wild.

Because dogs do not have advanced thinking and reflective skills like humans, many simply think that they are not aware of pain. Some think that dogs only refrain from doing actions due to consequences, rather than the question as to whether they feel pain or not.

My answer to that line of thinking is a question: why do dogs that have been stung by a wasp or bee or whatever, run away from them in terror in the future? What was the consequence, other than pain?????  Duhhh!

The book How Dogs Think: Understanding the Canine Mind by Stanley Coren examines and studies the works and theories of V.S. Rusinov, a Russian scientist. Rusinov’s studies are about how a dog’s brain works and functions, and the ongoing study shows that there is a possibility that dogs are able to understand pain and other physical phenomena in their thoughts. The study also shows some brain functional readings, which prove that dogs really experience pain and suffering.

Common examples, hints and proofs include: when a dog has arthritis, he will whine or cry whenever he does strenuous activities. Some dental problems and injuries that manifest in a dog can also cause great pain, and eventually keep him from eating food or drinking water. Dogs infested with fleas and ticks also produce patterns in the brain that indicate pain and distress. There are many more examples proving dogs experience pain.

With all that being said, a lot of pain in dogs can be relieved in many ways. Acupuncture, reflexology and chiropractic are the most common ones, and are officially recognized by veterinarians and health experts in providing good health and pain relief for dogs. Other causes of pain may require treatment by your vet.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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