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Signs of Pain and Discomfort in Dogs

Signs of Pain and Discomfort in Dogs

While we do everything we can to try and keep our canine companions healthy and happy, there may be times when they experience pain. Here, our Westminster vets talk about the signs your dog is in pain, what you can do if this happens and when you should bring them in for urgent care.

How Pain Affects Your Dog

All pet parents want to help their dogs live the happiest and healthiest life possible. This can be extremely difficult if we do not know what is happening with them internally. 

While dogs can be good at hiding their pain you also spend plenty of time with your pup and should be able to notice even the smallest of changes in their behavior. This will allow you to have them examined and treated as quickly as possible.

How to Tell if Your Dog is in Pain

Your dog will try their best to hide every symptom of pain until it becomes too much the handle, and this is typically the point at which most people notice that there is something wrong.

In wild species, being adept at concealing signs of disease, injury and pain can prevent animals from being perceived as weak by predators - and therefore an easy target. 

It is crucial for you to seek veterinary care for your dog at the first possible sign of discomfort, as early detection of disease or illness is key to better outcomes for your dog's health, fewer long-term complications and less risk during treatment. 

Are there different 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, an 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 That a Dog is in Pain

If you are wondering what the actual signs of pain in dogs look like, there are a few subtle symptoms to look out for. Signs your dog is in pain or discomfort may include:

    • Decrease in appetite 
    • Tail tucked in or lowered
    • Sleeping more than usual
    • Yelping or whining 
    • Irritability 
    • Limping 
    • Reluctance to climb stairs or jump 
    • Reduced play or enjoyment of exercise 

When your dog is normally playful and energetic, it can be quite confusing to see them displaying the opposite behaviors.

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. 

Just like humans experiencing pain, your dog will also display a noticeable difference in activity level while feeling discomfort. You may notice that your pup is sleeping much more than usual, especially if 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 Westminster can also detect, diagnose and treat health conditions that cause chronic pain. 

What are the treatment options for pain in dogs?

Depending on the cause of your pet's pain and their diagnosis, we may recommend treatment options such as pain medication, wound care, various therapies or surgery.

Medications That Can Be Used to Treat Pain

    • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Opioids
    • Gabapentin
    • Tramadol
    • Cortisone & Synthetic Cortisone-Like Medications

Veterinary Therapies That Can Help Manage Pain in Dogs

    • Veterinary Acupuncture
    • Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs
    • Massage
    • Neuromuscular Stimulation

What are the signs of pain in dogs that may require urgent care?

Severe pain can have a number of causes including injury or illness. This intense pain can have many signs including a change in behavior, physical change in how they carry themself and more. If you believe your dog to be experiencing severe pain, you should contact your vet right away for an examination. There are also other symptoms that are definite signs that your dog should visit the nearest urgent care facility or a veterinary emergency hospital such as:

  • Swollen Abdomen
  • Ingestion of a Toxic Substance
  • Blood in Urine, Vomit or Stool
  • Excessive Vomiting / Diarrhea
  • Difficulties Breathing
  • Signs of Shock
  • Serious Injury

If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms in your dog, please reach out to your nearest urgent care or emergency animal hospital for an examination and diagnostics. 

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.

Has your vet determined that your dog is experiencing pain due to an internal issue or dental concerns? Contact our Westminster vets to ask about a referral.

New Patients Welcome

Choice Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary specialists are passionate about improving the health of Westminster animals with complex healthcare needs. Contact us today.

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