It would be so nice if our dogs could tell us what was wrong with them. Unfortunately, until a time comes when they can talk to us, we have to use other methods of figuring out when they’re in pain. Here are some ways your dog may be trying to communicate their distress to you.
Change in Daily Behavior
If your dog suddenly changes eating, drinking, and sleeping habits, then there may be a good reason for that. Just like when you’re feeling under the weather, your dog might feel like they need more sleep. Watch your dog around mealtime. If they seem to be having a hard time eating, they might be having some dental problems. A loss of appetite is usually one of the more apparent signs of a problem.
Activity Level Changes
If your dog starts limping or seems to be moving stiffly, then there’s probably an issue. Sore paws, arthritis, or an injury could be the cause. Watch closely when your dog is getting up or taking stairs. This pain could also lead to a general lack of interest in playtime, walks, or other activities.
If your dog suddenly stops running to the door to greet you, avoiding contact, or worse, becomes aggressive, there’s a chance that your dog is somehow in pain. They may pace back and forth, hide entirely, or seem to have difficulty getting comfortable.
Depending on how talkative your dog already is, it might be more subtle, but pay attention to the kind of vocalizations. A sudden increase in yelping, growling, snarling, or howling is usually a cause for concern, especially if there are no other kinds of stimuli.
Body Language Changes
Your dog may assume a very rigid stance or stay in the playful bow position for longer than usual. Your pup might not be trying to play. These positions are attempts to relieve pain. Look out for a lowered or arched back or an abnormally dropped or tucked tail. You can also check their eyes. If their eyes are bloodshot or abnormally dilated or constricted, that’s often a sign of a problem. They may be squinting or trying to wipe their face with their paws or on other surfaces as well.
Harmless paw licking does not seem like it could foretell anything unpleasant, but it can indicate that your pet is upset. Paw licking is a way they soothe themselves, especially if the pain is inside (since they cannot lick that directly). If it is an external discomfort, then the licking could be showing you right where they hurt.
Breathing and Heart Rate Changes
Your dog may be showing signs of heavy activity even if they haven’t been exercising. For example, they may have an increased heart rate, faster or shallow breathing, etc.
Shaking or Trembling
Shaking may be more than just being cold! It can be a sign of pain – or it might be a sign of poisoning or internal organ failure. Think about anything your dog may have had the opportunity to get into recently, such as people’s sweets or rotten food.
So, the next time you see any of these symptoms, consider taking your dog to the vet; they have the equipment and skill to figure out the issue. More importantly, however, they will be able to find ways to reduce your dog’s suffering. Keep a record of all the symptoms you’ve seen so you’re prepared to answer the vet’s questions. Don’t hesitate to take your dog in to see the experts!