Your dogs depend on you for their care and of course you want the best for them, but it can be difficult to know when they are in pain.
Sometimes they may get into a scuffle with another dog or jump from a rock and hurt themselves. One dog we know has an odd habit of rolling over and falling out of bed at night.
Whatever the situation, dogs seem resilient but remember that they may not be able to tell you they are really hurting. Here are a few ways that you can tell your dog is in pain.
This is one is pretty obvious but limping is a good clue something is wrong. If your dog fell it could have sprained its leg. Arthritis also affects dogs and they can be sore and just very stiff. There are ways to help dogs with arthritis and the signs shouldn't just be ignored or brushed away.
Attitude and temperament
You know your dog's temperament better than anyone so if your dog seems a little more grouchy then usual it could be an indicator they just aren't feeling up to par. A dog who is normally very friendly could become aggressive and even try to bite, especially if it's an area that is sensitive due to an injury .
If your dog is licking itself more than normal, it may be a sign of trouble. Pets will often groom areas that are sources of pain and they may be trying to clean a wound. Be sure to keep an eye on it. Dogs also get "hot spots" due to seasonal allergies.
Panting is common in dogs especially when it's hot out or after they have played hard. But if you notice excessive panting -- especially if it comes out of nowhere -- it could be a sign your dog is in pain.
Not hungry and won't eat
Refusal to eat is usually a sign that something is wrong. If a dog has no appetite I am sure you will notice right away. After all their life is very treat-based. But pain can cause a dog to not want anything to do with food, so don't ignore your dog's hunger strike.
Ahh, that face -- you love it. But if your dog has a blank stare, its eyes become glazed or you notice that it is grimacing, it's a sign something is wrong.
Watch your pet's posture as well. If a dog is hunched over with its hindquarters on the ground it's not comfortable. Lying down and not wanting to walk is also a sign that there is most likely something wrong.
What to do
If you notice any of these signs, don't try to treat your pet with medicine yourself. Because dogs can't talk, it's very hard to gauge how serious the situation is. A "wait-and-see" attitude may work in some cases but that's a decision that needs to be made by a medical professional -- your vet, in other words.
Many dog owners put off going to the vet. That's understandable since veterinary care is expensive and many of us don't have any spare minutes in the day. But just changing a dog's diet or letting it take a day off from going for a walk isn't the answer -- you need to find out what's troubling your furry friend.
A visit to the vet will include measuring vital signs, checking the animal's weight and taking a blood sample. These alone may be enough to indicate whether the situation is serious. Putting off a vet visit for a few days can mean the difference between your pet bouncing back or failing to recover.