When was the last time you got hurt and reached out for help? And walked with a limp for days after you stubbed your toe? Surely in the recent past?
Now try and think of the last time you saw your pooch ask for help when he needed it? Your answer may as well be – never. Dogs are stoic creatures and instinctively try and hide any sign of pain.
It becomes imperative as a pet-parent then, to learn to decipher signs of pain in your fur-baby, and see through that poker face that he puts up even when he’s in considerable pain. Read on to know more.
1. Favoring One Leg?
If you find your dog limping, it is most likely a sign of an injury, a painful infection of the paw, or the onset of arthritis (especially if your dog is old). Apart from favoring one paw over another, your dog may show a reluctance to take the stairs, walk slower than his usual pace or find it difficult to get up after lying down for a while.
All these are signs that your pooch is in pain and needs a visit to the vet and medications to help with the pain that he’s trying to hide.
2. Whining and Vocalizing
As pet-parents, we all understand the language that our dogs speak to us in. We are able to decipher if he’s whining to go for his walk, or demand-barking at you during mealtimes.
Some of those vocalizations might indicate that your pooch is in pain, and these are accompanied by other symptoms of pain like limping or being agitated, so aren’t difficult to decipher if you know your pooch well.
Sometimes a very vocal dog may become quiet in pain. Which is why, it’s important to know your dog’s normal behavior.
A dog in pain may display any of these behaviors – whining, whimpering, growling, snarling or howling.
3. Loss of Appetite
A sudden loss of interest in food, signals that something is wrong with your dog. Maybe it’s just an upset tummy, but it needs to be checked out by a vet. Other signs of tummy troubles may include excessive drooling, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea.
Sometimes a dog who’s in pain may find it hard to walk all the way to the food bowl. A loss of appetite that lasts for more than a day warrants a call to the vet, as sometimes it can be indicative of some serious ailments.
4. Panting Too Much
Panting enables dogs to keep their bodies cool. Sometimes even excessive breathing is normal, especially on a hot day or after lots of running about.
But sudden, heavy panting indicates that your dog is stressed out. And might be in pain. Dogs in a lot of pain may hyperventilate and pant excessively. This calls for a visit to the vet, possibly even an emergency room, if your pet is in severe distress.
5. Grooming Excessively
Some amount of grooming and licking is normal in dogs. But if you find your dog excessively licking the same spot for a long time, it might be indicative of something else.
Dogs have an instinctive need to lick parts of their body to soothe and care for a wound. They might do this even when the pain is inside and not from an external, visible wound.
But when you see them obsessively going after a spot, it may help to gently examine the area that they’ve been trying to lick and seek medical help, if you suspect pain. You must do this with caution, as any pain that you cause may lead your dog to react aggressively.
If your dog is restless, and keeps pacing about, he may be in pain or discomfort. He may also keep trying to readjust his position, if he’s in pain. He may pace about and try to sit, and then get up quickly due to the discomfort.
A dog in pain can sometimes also sleep way more than his normal routine. All of these warrant a call to his vet and possibly a visit if he deems it fit.
7. Sudden Changes In Behavior?
Your dog may start behaving very differently when in pain, just like us humans. He may even resort to biting, if you try and touch him in an area that causes pain. He doesn’t mean to harm you, but is only trying to prevent further pain.
Also, when in pain, a dog who loves cuddles may suddenly avoid being touched or move away from people. In these cases, pain may be accompanied by sluggishness and lethargy.
Some dogs may demand more attention when they’re sick. So, if an otherwise independent dog, suddenly jumps into your lap and tries to get your attention, he’s most likely in pain and is asking for help.
All these signs point to a visit to the vet.
8. Changes In His Routine?
Certain other things that seem to be very uncharacteristic of your dog, may also indicate pain and discomfort.
These may be things like a reluctance to take the stairs, an unwillingness to play fetch even with his favorite toy, moving slowly and cautiously, getting up with difficulty, sleeping more than the usual amount, or an inability to sleep, accidents in the house in an otherwise fastidious dog, etc.
Being able to identifying these signs in your pooch, can go a long way in arriving at the right diagnosis and early detection of many ailments and in ensuring that your pooch is his healthy and happy self.