Signs Your Dog Is In Pain And What To Do About It

We all wish we had the ability to have a two-way conversation with our dogs like Dr. Dolittle. Unfortunately, our dogs can’t tell us when they are hurting, but here are some signs to look for when checking to see if our canine companion is in pain.


The most obvious sign of pain in a dog is some sort of vocalization, such as a yelp or growling when they are touched in a painful area. If you find a painful area on your dog, do not continue to touch that area, as it may result in an aggressive reaction. Call your veterinarian’s office right away.
dog is in pain Dog Scratching Itchy Ears. Siberian husky is scratching his ear on the walk.

Lethargy and poor appetite

Many dogs that are in pain act lethargic – they just don’t feel good. Just like us when we tweak our backs, we don’t want to move or eat because it hurts. This can also be observed in dogs who are experiencing pain, and especially in a dog that has stomach pain. These dogs may be completely food motivated on a normal day and turn their nose up at their favorite treat when their stomach hurts. If your dog’s appetite is off, it is a sign something is wrong.

Hunched posture and favoring a limb

Dogs with back pain or stomach pain may exhibit a hunched posture. They also may walk like they really want to be curled up in a ball. Dogs with a hurt limb, hip or shoulder will favor that leg or not even walk on it at all.
Sad little Maltese dog with broken paw in vet infirmary
If you observe any of the signs that a dog is in pain above, or you think they may have an ear infection, itchy skin, or another ailment, here is what you need to do:

Call your veterinarian

The best way to give your dog the best care is to see a veterinarian. They can take x-rays of your dog’s body and perform blood analysis to come to a diagnosis. X-rays are especially important if your dog is exhibiting back pain, as they may have compressed disks in their back. X-rays are also a great way to tell if your dog’s hip and knee joints are healthy and free of arthritis or dysplasia and even intestinal obstructions.
Stomach pain can be caused by stomach ulcers and pancreatitis, all of which need diagnostic testing to diagnose. It can be treated with medications your veterinarian will prescribe, although depending on the severity, your veterinarian may want to hospitalize your dog.
Veterinary care. Dog suffering from Ambrosia allergy. Dog eyes infection

Do not give your dog ANY sort of human medicine without consulting your veterinarian

Dogs can’t metabolize certain medications such as ibuprofen. In fact, it can make your dog’s situation worse and can affect the medication plan your veterinarian will want to prescribe.

Try to encourage your dog to eat and drink

Poor appetite and dehydration can be observed in dogs experiencing pain – especially dogs with back and stomach pain. Try to entice your dog to keep them eating and drinking. Make them boiled chicken and white rice, a bland but yummy meal for your pup – but hold off on the spices! Offer low sodium chicken broth or Gatorade to keep them consuming fluids.
Our dogs look at us like we are heroes. Although they can’t tell us what is wrong, we can look for the signs that a dog is in pain and be their advocate. When you exhibit signs of pain in your dog, don’t wait it out to see if they get better – call your veterinarian and do what you can for them until their appointment.

About the Author

Dani Buckley is a small-town resident in Montana. She is a veterinary technician manager and mom of eight four-legged kids – 5 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 horses. When she moved back home to Montana, her horses and her dogs moved with her (Carbon and Milo). The pack grew by three when she moved in with her boyfriend, Cody. Altogether there is a German Shepard (Lupay), a Border Collie (Missy), a Blue Heeler (Taz) and her two adorable mutts.

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