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12 Signs Your Dog Is in Pain+Tips to Help a Dog in Pain

Updated by Sheryl on Nov 4, 2021

No one wants their pet canines to suffer from pain. But it's pretty hard to guess if your pet is in pain since it can't express itself by speaking just like you.

In this post, you'll find the signs and causes of your dog's pain and recommended solutions you can help him.

sick dog
  • Dog Pain Symptoms
  • How to Help Your Dog in Pain? [7 Tips]
  • Causes of Pain in Dogs
  • Questions You May Ask

Unlike humans, the way a dog expresses its pain is different. Some exhibit behavioral changes, while others show physical signs of discomfort.

Generally, various subtle signs indicate if your dog has a hidden injury, trauma, or underlying issues. However, these symptoms can vary among dogs depending on age, the severity of the trouble, experience, and environment. Generally speaking, if you notice some following signs, then you should give them a careful check-up.

Loss of appetite

Dogs in pain may experience changes in their eating, drinking, and sleeping schedules. Loss of appetite is an evident sign that something is wrong with your canine friend. In addition, they may drink more or less water.

Changes in potty habits

Healthy male dogs raise one leg while urinating. But, if it is in pain, it won't raise the leg when peeing. The poop consistency may also change if your dog is stressed due to pain. Some canines suffer constipation since they avoid pooping due to pain.

Breathing trouble

Abnormal or heavy panting without any rough physical activity is evident that your dog is in pain. Plus, if it takes shallow or faster breathing, it means your dog is in pain while breathing. By the way, panting before and after excretion is normal in dogs.


If your dog is in constant discomfort, moving back and forth, trying to take rest but fails, it can also be a symptom of pain. They may like to sleep more since moving around can be difficult for them.

Changes in activeness

If your pet is less active than usual, reluctant to get up or lie down, jump or use the stairs, it shows that it might be in pain. Plus, limping and stiffness may be the signs of arthritis, injury, muscle sprain, inflammation, and sore paws. In short, if you notice any changes in your dog's mobility, it may be an indication of pain.

Changes in affection desire

The affection-seeking behavior of different dogs differs when they are in pain. For example, some canines suddenly become clingier and want to be petted. Contrarily, others avoid petting, prefer to stay alone, and do not like being touched. They may even bite if you try to touch the spot of pain.

unhappy dog

Increased whimper

Some dogs have more tolerance for pain. They can experience discomfort silently. At the same time, others are more sensitive and exhibit increased vocalization. They make sounds like excessive yelping, growling, howling, whimpering, or whining when you touch them.

Excessive self-grooming

Typically, dogs lick themselves for grooming. In addition, they lick their open wounds to keep them clean. But, if they excessively lick a specific body part, it means they are hurting. They lick to soothe themselves. For example, an increased licking of legs can be a sign of internal pain or injury.


An injured or wounded animal develops aggressive behavior since they are weak and vulnerable to predators' attacks. It is a natural self-defense instinct that they have evolved from their ancestors. Therefore, your dog can be more agitated or aggressive if it is suffering from pain.

Abnormal body movements

You might misinterpret your trembling or shaking dog for feeling cold or fear. Since your furry friend may experience trembling and shaking if it is in pain. These abnormal body movements such as muscle tremors can sometimes indicate serious issues like pancreatitis, poisoning, and kidney stone.

Frequent squinting

If your dog is suffering from eye pain, it will have smaller pupils and an increased redness, discharge and, squinting. Besides, dilated pupils may also be a sign of discomfort in other body parts.

Changes in body posture

To check whether your dog is in pain or not, look at its tail and head position. Normally, canines have an active tail. Oppositely, a hanging or tucked tail can be a symptom of the dog in pain. Similarly, if your furry friend is standing with an arched back, it is a sign of back pain or spinal injury.

dog and vets

If your dog has pain, you can provide it relief in various ways. Follow these tips to help your dog relieve from distress:

  1. While noticed the possible signs and trying to diagnose, don't make the pain worst by touching the painful body part.
  2. Contact your vet as early as you can to figure out the reason.
  3. Ensure to provide the correct dose of prescribed pain medication to your dog. Never give pain medicines that are effective for other canines. Instead, only use a painkiller recommended by your vet.
  4. Keep an eye on your dog's response to the medicines.
  5. Limit the movement and physical activity of your pet canine.
  6. Snowy weather can make the pain worst. So place a litter box closer to your dog in snowy weather. So, it can do its business here instead of going out in pain.
  7. Provide soft bedding and a comfortable environment to relieve him from pain.
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Sometimes your dog experiences chronic pain due to ongoing illnesses such as arthritis or dental pain. On the other hand, acute pain appears suddenly due to an injury or acute disease.

Here are some of the possible causes of pain in dogs.

  • Eye, skin, and ear infections
  • Dental infections
  • Inflammation of body parts
  • Muscle sprain
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Constipation
  • Bones and joints damage
  • Accidental injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Post-surgery pain
  • Kidney stones
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Urinary tract infections

Though these causes are not limited to this list, your main aim should be to diagnose and solve the reason behind your dog's discomfort. Consult your vet for the detailed reasons as soon as possible.

Most of the symptoms of your dog in pain may be due to some other reasons. If your dog is not aggressive, you can locate the pain spot by gentle petting. However, it is highly discouraged if you don't have experience. Make sure not to use human pain and inflammation medicines for your dog. If you notice any behavior changes in your dog, your vet will be the only person to identify the problem.
Will a dog in pain eat?
Just like humans, dogs suffer the loss of appetite when they are in pain. However, you can attract your pet to the food by offering treats and its favorite snack.
Can I give human painkillers to my dog?
No, you can't. The composition and dosage of human pain medicine are made according to the requirements of the human body. Therefore, they can be potentially harmful or even fatal for your dog. Only use the medication prescribed by your vet for your dog.
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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