How would I know if my dog is painful?
Some signs of pain in dogs are obvious – lameness, wounds and vocalisation, but was are some of the harder to spot signs? Read on….
Like some humans, there are dogs that are very stoic. It can be hard to spot that they are painful because they are eating, drinking and still wagging their tail.
These are of course encouraging signs of health, but beware of the “secret signs”. Below are a few of the signals you may be missing. This list is for example only and is not exhaustive.
Does your dog disappear when the kids are around? Does he sleep in unusual places?
There are a number of reasons they could do this and pain is high on the list. Sometimes it is the anticipation of pain, rather than pain itself that will cause them to clear out when the rough-housing begins. Although he may have once loved the old tug of war or wrestle, when you see him disappear from these games, all may not be well.
Unusual biting or snapping.
Has your dog been growling, snapping or even biting people or other animals? If this behaviour is new, then pain may be the culprit.
Sometimes avoidance just isn’t enough or is impossible. If your dog is usually a cuddly teddy bear and suddenly turns into Cujo, she may be painful.
As distressing as it is, try to work out why this is happening. Look for other signs that you may have missed (either now or in the past). Consider what was happening at the moment to pinpoint the painful area.
Talk to your vet and remedial therapist to work out exactly what the problem is and how to treat it.
Yes, dogs can become depressed or anxious when suffering from pain.
Imagine that you’re experiencing a nagging stiffness in the neck that just won’t go away or a sharp pain every time you stood up. Even if the pain is mild, but continues over an extended period of time, it can affect your mental well-being. Same for dogs.
A subdued demeanour can easily be a sign of chronic discomfort in your dog. Some signs of this can be easier to spot than others: reluctance to go on a walk, disinterest in games; some a little harder – sleeping more, reduced engagement in daily household activity.
Changes in toileting behaviour/accidents.
How can we tell if these toileting accidents are just old age or because of pain?
We can all be forgiven in thinking that toilet accidents are just because our dog is old, or didn’t want to get wet in the rain, or even is just lazy.
To spot whether the changes in toileting behaviour is due to underlying pain, it is good to notice exactly what has changed.
Does he only poop in the house when it is raining? Can he maintain “the stance” when toileting or does he have to shuffle and readjust posture? Does she go to the toilet small amounts often or saves it all up? What are the faeces like now compared to 12 months ago – it’s not the nicest part, but it is useful information.
Armed with the answers to these questions (and more), speak to your vet and remedial therapist. There are clues in these answers to help identify a medical reason and sources of pain.
What do I do if I see any of these signs in my dog?
Speak to your vet about any medical conditions your dog may be experiencing. Also, your Canine Remedial Therapist will be able to help alleviate pain associated with these conditions and offer advice to make life a lot easier and more comfortable for your best friend.
The long term goal is to improve your dog’s quality of life – for today, and all of his tomorrows.