Signs of Pain in Dogs
Dogs, like humans, can experience pain, and it’s important for pet owners to be able to recognize the signs of pain in their canine companions.
Why Dogs Hide Signs Of Pain?
Dogs have an innate ability to conceal their pain, making it challenging for their owners to detect signs of discomfort or illness. This hidden suffering can be attributed to their evolutionary history as pack animals and the survival instincts they have developed over centuries.
Understanding why dogs hide pain is crucial for responsible pet owners to ensure their furry companions receive timely medical attention and care.
- Survival Instincts: In the wild, showing signs of weakness or vulnerability could attract predators or result in being ostracized from the pack. Dogs have inherited this instinct to avoid displaying pain as a means of protecting themselves from potential threats.
- Social Hierarchy: Dogs are pack animals with a hierarchical structure. Displaying pain or weakness can potentially lower their rank in the pack and impact their social standing. Hence, dogs often mask their pain to maintain their position within the group.
- Learned Behaviour: Dogs learn from their human and canine interactions. They observe and imitate the behaviour of their owners and fellow dogs. If they see humans or other dogs ignoring pain, they may suppress their own discomfort to align with what they perceive as acceptable behaviour.
- Masking Vulnerability: Dogs have a deep bond with their owners and strive to please them. They may hide their pain to prevent their owners from worrying or to avoid being a burden. This behaviour is especially true for breeds known for their loyalty and dedication to their human companions.
Here are some common signs that may indicate that a dog is in pain:
Changes in behaviour:
Dogs in pain may exhibit unusual behaviour such as increased aggression, restlessness, irritability, or withdrawal. They may also become more vocal, whining or whimpering more than usual.
Pain can cause a loss of appetite or a decreased interest in food. Conversely, some dogs may eat more due to stress or discomfort.
Limping or Lameness
If a dog is favouring a limb, limping, or showing signs of lameness, it could indicate pain in that area. They may also be hesitant to put weight on a specific leg.
Changes in posture or movement
Dogs in pain may assume an unusual posture, such as hunching their back or holding their head low. They may also exhibit stiffness or reluctance to move.
Excessive grooming or licking
Dogs may excessively lick or chew at a particular area of their body that is causing them pain. This behaviour is often an attempt to soothe or alleviate discomfort.
Dogs may whimper, yelp, growl, or howl more frequently when they are in pain. The type and intensity of vocalization can vary depending on the cause and severity of the pain.
Changes in sleep patterns
Pain can disrupt a dog’s sleep, leading to restlessness, difficulty getting comfortable, or excessive sleepiness.
Decreased activity or exercise intolerance
Dogs in pain may be less willing to engage in physical activities they once enjoyed. They may be reluctant to play, go for walks, or climb stairs.
Changes in breathing
Pain can affect a dog’s respiratory rate and pattern. They may breathe more rapidly or shallowly, or exhibit signs of laboured breathing.
Changes in facial expression
Dogs may have a tense or furrowed brow, narrowed eyes, or a vacant stare when they are experiencing pain. They may also pant excessively, even when not exerting themselves.
If you suspect your dog is in pain, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.