How do I know if my dog is in pain?

It can be very difficult to tell if your dog is in pain and if they are, where the pain is coming from and what is causing it.  Dogs will vary in their individual responses to pain and your dog’s age, current environment, and general health will affect the way in which they respond to pain.


What will I see?

If your dog is in pain you may see:How do I know if my dog is in pain - Vets Now

  • Signs of agitation (being unsettled, trembling)
  • They may vocalise (cry out, yelp, growl)
  • They may become sensitive to touch and resent normal handling
  • They may become grumpy and snap at you or change their normal behaviour (quiet, less active, hiding)
  • They may limp or be reluctant to walk or move
  • They may become depressed
  • They may have a reduced appetite
  • They may have rapid, shallow breathing and an increased heart rate
  • If they have a sore belly they may adopt a praying position with their head and forelimbs on the ground and their hind limbs and tail up in the air

Why might my dog be in pain?

Pain can be caused by a variety of disease conditions, injury or trauma, arthritis, or following surgery or medical treatment.



There are a variety of medications that you can use to provide pain relief for your dog.  Underlying conditions will need to be treated and in some cases this will require surgery (for example, a broken bone).

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What can I do to help?

While your dog is recovering limited movement and physical activity is recommended.  Soft, padded bedding and a quiet comfortable environment will also help speed up your dog’s recovery.

Ensure your dog receives the correct dose of any medications prescribed by your vet.  Each dog will react differently to the type and dosage level of the prescribed pain medication. Monitor your dog’s response to the medication and if you have any concerns contact your vet.

What else should I do to maintain my dog’s health?

Regular worming and flea treatment are still required, along with yearly booster vaccinations. Your vet may also recommend a senior diet for your dog.

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