It can be concerning to see your dog suffering from pain or discomfort. In this post, our Portland vets explain how dogs tend to handle this, how they show pain or discomfort, how to know when your dog is suffering and when they might require urgent care.
How to Tell If Your Dog is in Pain
Dogs are exceptional at hiding symptoms of pain. While this served them well as a survival tactic before they were domesticated as pets, it's not great for owners of domesticated dogs who want to make sure their dog's quality of life and well-being is the best it can be.
With a good understanding of your dog's temperament and personality and by keeping an eye out for abnormal behaviors that can point to pain or discomfort, you'll be prepared to notice subtle signs of pain in your dog. You'll then need to act on them appropriately and in a timely fashion.
How Dogs Handle Pain
Dogs tend to hide their pain for as long as possible until symptoms become apparent and their humans take notice. 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.
Any sign of pain or discomfort in your dog must be addressed and treated by a veterinarian if necessary, 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.
Types of Pain a Dog Can Experience
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 its 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 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
- Reluctance to climb stairs or jump
- Reduced play or enjoyment of exercise
If your previously physically active, outgoing, and friendly dog now cowers away from being a 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 the 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 dog 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 Portland can also detect, diagnose and treat health conditions that cause chronic pain.
How Pain in Dogs is Treated
Depending on the cause of your pet's pain and its diagnosis, we may recommend treatment options such as pain medication, wound care, various therapies, or surgery. Our veterinarians perform a wide variety of elective and non-elective surgical procedures, including soft tissue surgery, orthopedic surgery, dental surgery, foreign body or mass removal, and more.
With non-invasive cold laser therapy, we can treat painful inflammatory conditions, injuries, and illnesses in dogs and cats. This type of therapy can be an effective alternative to treatments such as conventional medications or other options.