Common Pain Symptoms in Dogs

Seeing our dogs in pain is no fun and can be heartbreaking. It’s important to be able to identify common symptoms of pain in dogs so the appropriate measures can be taken. Pain symptoms will look different in every dog and dependent on the actual location of the pain but the below pain symptoms are often common universal symptoms of pain in dogs.

1. Reluctance to be touched

When dogs are in pain, they will often avoid the painful part of their body being touched or even being touched in general. This can look like ducking away or pulling their limb back towards them but they can also tell you they don’t want to be touched by growling when you’re near the affected area.  Remember to respect their boundaries.

2. Vocalization 

Just like people, dogs may outwardly express their pain. They may either yelp when the painful area is touched as well as consistent whining especially during activities like trying to stand/laydown and when just laying down and trying to get comfortable.

3. Signs of agitation

Dogs may become restless when it pain and pace back and forth and not able to keep still. They will usually have trouble getting comfortable and are unable to stay in one position for too long before getting up and moving.

4. Shaking or trembling

Shaking doesn’t just indicate being cold. Shaking or trembling is also a symptom of pain in dogs. But keep in mind that this can also mean they’ve been poisoned or have any number of conditions that cause muscle tremors. If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, take them to your nearest emergency vet and call the Pet Poison Hotline at (855) 764-7661.

5. Issues with mobility

Dogs who are having pain in their limbs, joints, jips, etc. will often have mobility issues. This includes having difficulty standing, laying down, walking, running, and jumping, They may either show signs of difficulty doing these things or refuse to do them all together.

6. Heavy breathing

While panting is normal and even heavy panting is normal after a lot of activity, heavy panting and breathing in dogs while inactive is a sign of being in pain. If your dog is breathing shallowly, it might also be a sign that it is painful to breathe.

7. Excessive grooming

Dogs often excessively groom themselves when anxious or in physical pain. When in physical pain, they will often groom the area that hurts in an effort to relieve the pain. A dog’s first instinct when hurt is to try and clean the wound and soothe themselves even if the pain is coming from something beyond a flesh wound.

8. Changes in eating, sleeping, and drinking habits

Dogs who are in pain often have changes in their eating, sleeping, and drinking habits in that they do less of all of the above. Dogs often won’t eat much or drink when in pain but it can also be an indicator of dental pain as well because it’s painful to eat. They may sleep less due to not being able to get comfortable.

9. Antisocial behavior

When dogs are in pain, they will often want to be left alone. You might find them hiding in a corner, in the closet, or under the bed. Obviously if this is a regular behavior for them, it’s not necessarily an indicator or pain but it can be if combined with other symptoms of pain.

If you believe your dog is in pain, stop activities and visit a veterinary professional to diagnose the problem.

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