Symptoms That Your Dog Is In Pain

When people are in pain, it’s pretty hard to miss most of the time. We complain about our aching back. We yell out because we’ve stepped on something pointy. We limp because it hurts to put pressure on a leg. We lay down in the middle of the day in complete silence and darkness because we have a migraine.

Dogs, unfortunately, aren’t always quite so easy to read. First off, to start with the obvious, they can’t tell us if something hurts because of that whole not-talking thing. And while things, like limping or whining every time they put pressure on an area, are pretty sure signs of a dog in pain, symptoms aren’t always so clear — especially if your dog is of the “walk it off” type.

Heavy Panting

Symptoms That Your Dog Is In Pain

Panting is normal behavior that shouldn’t surprise any dog owner. Even when the panting is heavy, certain circumstances allow for it such as extra hot days and strenuous exercise. But if you notice heavy panting out of nowhere, it could be stress-induced. This stress could be caused by pain your pet is experiencing. For whatever reason it may be, unexplained heavy panting should result in a trip to your veterinarian.

Changes to the eyes

Dogs with eye pain frequently squint. Additionally, you might notice that his pupils are smaller. For pain in other parts of the body, the opposite is true — the pupils get bigger.

Differences in sleeping, drinking, and eating

Many dogs will sleep more when in pain because they’re trying to heal or because it’s too hard to move around. In this vein, a loss of appetite and changes in the way and amount they drink are common.



Lack of appetite is often the result of some sort of discomfort. You don’t feel like eating when you’re not well, do you? Our dogs don’t either. They simply just don’t feel like eating, especially when it’s painful to walk all the way over to the food bowl. If you notice any sort of inappetence in your pet, it’s important to seek veterinary attention right away, as this could be a symptom of many dangerous ailments.

Aggressive behaviors

Ever heard the expression, “Like a wounded animal?” Well, there’s a reason. When animals are injured or otherwise in pain, many will go into protection mode and try to get you to stay away because they’re worried you’ll hurt them. This may mean that your normally docile dog suddenly starts growling, pinning his ears back, and even biting if you do something that worries him. Typically aggressive dogs sometimes show the opposite behavior

Altered breathing

Is your dog panting even though she hasn’t been exercising? Do her breaths seem faster or shallower? These things can be signs that it hurts her to take a breath.

Excessive Grooming


It’s normal for dogs to lick and groom themselves, but it’s not normal for this to become an obsessive behavior. If you notice your pet tending to a localized area he’s never noticed before, or has just recently started spending a lot more time there, it could be a sign that he’s hurting. Pets will often groom places that are sources of pain in hopes to clean and care for the wound, even if there is no open wound present. Be sure to keep an eye on the area and inspect it gently.

Obviously, most of these symptoms can mean several different things, so you don’t just want to assume your dog is in pain. As long as your dog isn’t acting aggressively, one thing you can do to check is to poke and prod (gently but firmly) around their body — just like your vet does. This can help you to localize the source of the pain, but be careful — otherwise docile dogs will sometimes bite when hurt if you touch a sore spot.

If you find something that seems worrisome or the odd behavior continues, see a vet immediately to diagnose the problem.

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