How to Tell If Your Dog is in Pain
Dogs are experts at masking pain, which can be attributed to their survival instincts inherited from their wild ancestors. While this vital skill could once have saved the life of a wild dog, it's not great for owners of domesticated dogs who want to make sure their pup's quality of life and well-being is the best it can be.
As a pet parent, it is essential to watch your dog closely for subtle changes in behavior, as these may indicate your pup is experiencing discomfort. With a good understanding of your dog's normal temperament and personality, and by keeping an eye out for abnormal behaviors, you'll be prepared to act right away at the first sign that your dog is experiencing pain.
Types of Pain In Dogs
Just like humans, our dogs can suffer from a variety of health conditions that cause acute or chronic pain, such as dental health issues or internal conditions from heart-related and immune system disorders to gastrointestinal issues. Tumors and different types of cancer can also lead to pain. Acute pain can be caused by a foreign object getting stuck in their paw, an injury while exercising, a fall, accident or other mishaps.
A dog of any age may contract parasites and suffer subsequent disease or infection. Senior dogs may experience pain from joint or bone disorders. diabetes or other health issues.
Signs a Dog is in Pain
Many dog parents come to us wondering how to know if their dog is in pain. There are a few subtle and clear symptoms you can watch for. Signs your dog is in pain or discomfort may include:
- Significant decrease in appetite
- Tail tucked in or lowered
- Spending more time sleeping
- Yelping or whining
- Limping or altered gait
- Reluctance to climb stairs or jump
- Reduced play or enjoyment of exercise
- Personality changes (unusual aggression, hiding, less playful, etc.)
If your previously physically active, outgoing and friendly pup now cowers away from being pet, doesn't want to play or loses their appetite, some type of pain or discomfort may be the culprit. Changes in behavior can indicate suffering and should be tended to by your veterinarian, who can examine your dog and diagnose the underlying health issue or condition. Since pain can exhaust dogs just as it does humans, many pooches become tired more easily. You may notice your dog sleeping more if their pain has become a problem recently or they are experiencing chronic pain.
If you notice your dog suffering from pain and showing symptoms, contact your vet so the underlying issue can be diagnosed. If your pup has been injured and the pain is accompanied by bleeding, loss of consciousness, vomiting or diarrhea, this is considered a veterinary emergency that should be treated right away. Our vets in Englewood can also detect, diagnose and treat health conditions that cause chronic pain.
How Pain in Dogs is Treated
When it comes to relieving pain and discomfort in dogs there are a few approaches that your veterinarian might recommend:
Pain in dogs can be effectively treated using a variety of approaches, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the pain. One common option is the use of pain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or opioids, which can help to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
There are several pain medications commonly used for dogs, each with their own benefits and potential side effects. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as carprofen, meloxicam, and deracoxib are often prescribed for mild to moderate pain and inflammation. These medications work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that contribute to pain and inflammation.
Opioids such as tramadol can be used for more severe pain, and work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord to reduce pain perception.
While these medications can be effective for managing pain, they can also have potential side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, decreased appetite, and liver or kidney damage with long-term use. It is important to only use pain medications prescribed by a veterinarian, and to carefully monitor dogs for any signs of adverse reactions.
In some cases, surgery may be required to address the underlying cause of your dog's pain.
Other Treatments to Reduce Pain In Dogs
Acupuncture, cold laser therapy, and physical rehabilitation are all alternative treatments that can help relieve pain in dogs.
- Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, stimulating the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals such as endorphins.
- Cold laser therapy uses low-level laser light to penetrate the skin and promote healing, reducing inflammation and pain.
- Physical rehabilitation, including exercises such as hydrotherapy and range-of-motion exercises, can improve muscle strength and flexibility, promoting healing and reducing pain.
These treatments can be used alone but are more commonly used in combination with traditional pain medications, depending on the severity and cause of the pain. It is important to consult with a veterinarian or certified practitioner when considering alternative treatments for your dog, to ensure that the treatment is appropriate and safe for your pet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.