Pain in Your Pooch: 6 Most Common Signs
Updated: Oct 13
While September is set aside as Animal Pain Awareness Month, as pet parents we should be on the constant lookout for signs of pain in our pups. Directly connected to outward signs of altered behaviour, pain can be a source and trigger for a myriad of issues.
Generally, we notice if our pups are less playful than usual. If it's common for them to enjoy paying fetch or hide 'n' seek or other physical games, it will be evident if they stop joining in. But, if your pooch is a little older and/or less active, it's important to closely observe their activity level to help gauge their wellness.
Depending on your fur-kid, it will likely be a clear sign that something is off if they begin to avoid using the stairs. (I say depending because, due to sight issues, our one-eyed Shih-tzu cannot manoeuvre stairs well.)
Reluctance to Jump
For most of us, jumping is probably one of top behaviours we try to prevent our pups from doing from day one. Certainly we don't want them jumping up on people or other animals. But, during playtime activity, jumping may be part of the fun and games. Even your "couch potato" will have learned to jump up on the couch or bed. So, when you notice a sudden difficulty and/or avoidance to jumping, it's most likely a good possibility that some level of joint pain or weakness is present.
While constant licking can be a sign of allergies or other kinds of stress, it can also be a sign of pain. Just as we might constantly rub a stiff shoulder, our fur-kids may lick an injured or tender spot incessantly.
Difficulty Getting into a Standing Position
More common in older pups, difficulty in getting into a standing position can be a signal that they may also be experiencing pain. As we know (at least any fossils like me) pain and stiffness begins to creep into our joints after a certain age and it gets tougher to do the most common of things such as standing from a crouching or sitting position. You'll want to monitor your pooch closely once you notice this.
Often, when experiencing pain, loss of appetite will occur. If you notice that your fur-kid's zest for chowing down has diminished or they've become picky, you may want to take a closer look at their demeanour in some of the other areas noted above.
We all know how debilitating pain can be; each and every one of us has experienced some kind of episode of physical pain in our lifetime. Depending on the situation and severity, our doctors have created pain management plans and helped us to maintain a fairly normal life. Our veterinarians will take the same approach with our fur-kids by conducting an assessment and then creating a pain management plan that will be tailored to the issues our pups are experiencing.
An important word of caution: NEVER, EVER administer any kind of pain reliever to your pup without guidance from your vet! Most human-grade pain relievers (Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, etc.) are toxic to our pups can be lethal. I would also add a word of caution that Dr. Google and Nurse Facebook aren't always accurate and the Amazon Pharmacy can be deadly if the wrong product is selected.
It's critical for our pet's well-being and our own peace of mind that we try to be as observant as possible to the behaviours exhibited on a daily basis. Knowing the signs of pain and addressing them early will not only provide relief and comfort to your pup but will most likely prevent a crippling vet bill later on.