Have you noticed that something just isn’t “right” about the way your dog is acting? Maybe he always greets you with a wagging tail, but now he doesn’t even get up when you walk in the door. He may have been in a good mood in the morning and ready for a walk, but now he seems tired and listless. When your dog isn’t acting like his normal self, it could be a sign that there is an issue causing pain.
Being on the lookout for signs of pain can help you make sure that your dog stays happy and healthy. Below are seven warning signs to look out for.
Sudden limping or a noticeable change in gait can be caused by internal pain such as sprains or strains caused by activity. Arthritis could be a cause of pain in older dogs. As dogs age, their musculoskeletal naturally become weaker.
External pain can also cause limping. If the limping seems to have begun suddenly, check your dog’s legs for a wound or something caught in the paw like a thorn or sticker. Also check your dog’s toenails because an ingrown or overgrown toenail can dig into the skin, making walking uncomfortable.
Loss of Appetite
This symptom may be easy to brush off — maybe he’s bored with his food — but pay attention when your dog isn’t eating. Any internal or external pain could be distracting your dog enough for him to lose his appetite. Oral pain, like toothaches or sore gums, can make chewing so uncomfortable that your dog eats much less.
Panting is pretty normal in dogs. It’s how they cool down—especially in hot climates like Tampa’s. You should be on the lookout for panting at unusual times, like the middle of the night or while he is resting in a cool room. Unusually heavy panting accompanied by trembling or excessive salivation could be a sign that your dog is hurting.
It’s natural for your dog to groom himself, but if he’s focusing on one particular spot it may be a sign that he’s trying to alleviate pain there. Even if an open wound isn’t present, your dog may be following his instinct to clean the hurt area to help it heal. Be on the lookout for excessive grooming and inspect the area to see if there is any obvious injury or swelling.
Change in Behavior
You know your dog best, so you can tell when he’s not acting like himself. A dog who normally isn’t very needy may start seeking more attention, or a dog with a friendly and upbeat personality may suddenly become aggressive if they are touched in a certain area. Other signs of changed behavior may be that your dog is moving slower, laying or sleeping in a different position that what is normal (he’s sleeping flat on his side when usually he curls up in his bed), or that he is making accidents in the house. Personalities don’t change for unexplained reasons, so if something about your dog’s behavior seems odd, pain might be the cause.
Constant whining or whimpering lets you know that something just isn’t right with your dog. Even more obvious than a whine, a yelp or crying out in pain when you touch your dog is his way of letting you know that he hurts.
Beyond a loss of appetite, an upset tummy can also show itself as vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Excessive drooling is a common sign of nausea. Some dogs turn to eating grass as a way to make themselves vomit when their stomachs are upset.
What to do
Now that you know what to look for, you can help your dog find relief if he’s experiencing pain. Because dogs can have different reactions to medications and dosages, it’s NEVER safe to administer over the counter pain medications before seeking advice from your vet.
Examination by your vet can uncover the cause of the pain and help you get your dog on the right track for health.