Recognizing Subtle Signs of Pain in Your Dog


by Barbara Csernai



Understanding when your dog is in pain can be a challenging task, as these furry friends often communicate their discomfort through subtle behavioral changes. Ignoring these red flags may lead to prolonged suffering for your pet. Here are some crucial signs that your canine companion might be experiencing pain, according to veterinarians:

  1. Excessive Licking:
    • Continuous licking or gnawing on a specific body part can indicate pain on or beneath the skin. This behavior might also signal anxiety, itchiness, compulsion, or gastrointestinal discomfort.
  2. Excessive Drooling:
    • Excessive drooling, especially when not prompted by the sight of food, may indicate significant discomfort. Anxiety triggered by pain or discomfort is a common cause of this behavior.
  3. Appetite Changes:
    • Alterations in appetite can signal various health conditions, some of which might cause discomfort. Refusal to eat or changes in eating habits could be linked to dental problems, viruses, or even serious issues like cancer.
  4. Abnormal Sitting or Standing:
    • Your dog’s posture provides insights into its physical and psychological well-being. Changes in sitting, standing, or resting positions may indicate pain, with muscles adjusting to protect affected areas.
  5. Shaking or Trembling:
    • Joint pain or chronic back pain in older dogs may result in shaking or trembling, especially when they rise, stand for extended periods, or return from a walk. Neurological issues could also contribute to trembling.
  6. Lethargy and Disinterest:
    • If your dog becomes lethargic, loses interest in favorite toys and activities, and displays overall malaise, it could be a sign of an underlying issue such as exposure to toxins, dehydration, or a viral/bacterial infection.
  7. Random Growling:
    • Sudden changes in behavior, such as growling or snarling, especially if your dog is usually friendly, might indicate pain. This could be associated with orthopedic injuries or infections.

Remember, each dog is unique, and some may be more overt in expressing pain, while others remain stoic. Observing your dog’s behavior closely and consulting with your vet if anything seems amiss is crucial to ensuring their well-being.

Source: Julia Ries / Huffington Post