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How to Know if Your Dog Is in Pain: Signs of Discomfort


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Wild and domestic animals show pain in a variety of ways. Their inability to communicate does not in any way diminish their potential to experience hurtful and unpleasant stimuli.

Pain in dogs can be caused by a variety of conditions including, injury, trauma, or an underlying issue, like canine arthritis.

Be watchful for subtle queues that your dog is feeling pain.

Obvious Signs of Pain in Dogs

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Vocalization
  • Trembling
  • Restlessness
  • Increased breathing rate

Australian Shepherd giving paw outdoors.

Subtle Signs of Pain in Dogs

  • Increased heart rate
  • Reduced appetite
  • Depression
  • Reluctance to move

Signs of pain and distress can vary tremendously among individual dogs, depending on their experience, age, and environment. Some dogs have an amazing pain threshold; others are much more sensitive. But make no mistake: Dogs both experience pain and show the signs of pain.

Sadly, veterinary patients are unable to directly convey their feelings of pain. Therefore, identifying pain in canine patients is an important and sometimes difficult diagnosis. Treatment and therapy must aim to relieve the pain or at least make it tolerable.

What to Do if Your Dog Is in Pain

If you think your dog is in pain, you should consult your veterinarian. In an emergency, follow these steps for first-aid care.

For more information on reading and understanding your dog’s body language, check out our tips here.

The post How to Know if Your Dog Is in Pain: Signs of Discomfort appeared first on American Kennel Club.

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