Our pets don't express pain the way we do, but like us, they can suffer from trauma, injury or chronic pain. Here are some tips on how to recognize the signs.
Complaints, cries, screams and moans
Depending on the temperament and size of the dog, the pain will be expressed by yelling or whining. Experience has shown that small dogs will more easily whimper when in pain, while large dogs will tend to suffer in silence and remain totally stoic in the face of pain.
Noisy complaints are also more likely to occur with severe injuries and acute pain, but less likely with chronic pain.
More common than a noise complaint, the change in behavior is more complicated to detect.
The pain may cause your dog to isolate himself, hide, and avoid contact with you or other dogs.
Do not overlook the following signs:
- A dog that refuses to get up when it is usually happy to go for a walk
- A tired dog that hides when it is usually very affectionate.
- A dog that will try to bite you when you handle it
- A dog that licks or scratches intensely
- A dog that has less appetite
- A dog with a blank stare
- A dog with a limp or unusual gait
More obvious symptoms may occur and require your attention:
- Open wound
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Difficulty urinating
A very particular position
Certain positions that are sometimes overlooked can be characteristic of pain:
- Head down, hindquarters up: may indicate abdominal pain
- Head down, frozen position: can be an indication of cervical pain
Mistakes not to make
In case of extreme pain, do not handle your pet too much, or take precautions; intense pain may cause your dog to bite you if you handle the affected area.
Your dog will sense your anxiety, so try not to panic, stay calm, and talk to your dog in a soft voice.
Do not give your dog any medication. Paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen are toxic to animals. Wait for your veterinarian's diagnosis.
Don't assume that a pet in pain is not doing something stupid. Chronic pain can lead to self-mutilation or depression. Always keep an eye on an animal that has just had surgery or is being treated.
Your veterinarian will be best able to understand the cause of the pain and treat it, most commonly with anti-inflammatories, sometimes combined with other medications depending on the diagnosis.
For more chronic pain, physiotherapy sessions as well as lifestyle changes can help fight your pet's pain.
See you next time on The Pets Ark!
The Pets Ark family