Although dogs have shared their lives with us for over 10,000 years, they still are driven by some basic instincts. One of those instincts is not showing pain. In the wild, the animal that shows pain or distress can end up as dinner. So, our canine friends often try to their hide pain. However, if you know your dog and their habits, you should be able to pick up those subtle clues that let you know your dog is painful or not feeling well. Below is a list of behaviors to watch for that could signal problems.
While some dogs may show obvious signs of pain, like shaking, limping, or whining, many are much less demonstrative. Any type of behavior that is different from their normal behavior could be an indication that your dog is in pain or not feeling well. A dog that is usually friendly and interactive may become withdrawn or avoid interaction with people. They may even try hiding, such as going behind a chair or under the bed, to avoid people or other pets in the house. They may no longer be interested in playing with toys, even when you encourage playtime.
UNUSUAL EATING OR SLEEPING PATTERNS
You may notice a change in eating and/or sleeping habits. They may take longer to eat, or they may not want to eat at all. Treats may no longer interest them. They may sleep much more than usual and not want to be bothered while sleeping. Conversely, instead of sleeping as usual, they may be restless – lying down, then getting up within a few minutes, or pacing a lot – all signs of discomfort and stress.
AWKWARD OR SLOW MOVEMENTS
Depending on the cause of the pain, your dog may stand or walk in an odd or awkward manner. They may stand with a hunched posture. They may walk more slowly or be very hesitant to walk at all. They may avoid going up or down the stairs. Jumping up on the couch may be something they now avoid, even if encouraged to join you. They may demonstrate difficulty sitting or lying down or getting up from those positions.
EXCESSIVE CHEWING OR LICKING OF BODY
Excessive chewing or licking at an area could be a sign of pain. Dogs may not understand the pain they feel and attempt to alleviate it by excessively licking or chewing at the painful site. Your dog may flinch when you touch the area or even snap or try to bite. They may pant excessively and appear very restless.
Any or all these behaviors could indicate that your dog is experiencing pain. If you believe your dog is in pain, contact your veterinarian and have your dog seen as soon as possible. Do not administer any type of over-the-counter pain relievers as some of these can be harmful or lethal to your dog. Recognizing that your dog is in pain and responding appropriately is the first step toward helping your pet to have a healthier, happier life.