Signs of pain in dogs

The animal does not speak and therefore cannot complain either, or at least not with words like we would to say that we are not feeling well or that we are in pain somewhere. However, there are some behaviors that can grab our attention and reveal signs of pain. There are different signs of pain in dogs.

The vocalizations

During an acute pain caused by an accident or a fall for example, or when handling the injured painful limb, the dog may emit a brief sound, a “kai” type barking. While acute pain is easy to identify because the dog manifests it by crying suddenly, chronic or diffuse pain is more difficult to spot.

During a throbbing pain, he may moan, but sometimes in a weak and muffled manner. This is often the case with internal pain . Very often chronic pain is silent: the sound is therefore not a good indicator, because often not very present and moreover, it is not very precise because the dog while moaning does not indicate to us the origin of his pain.


Most often, the animal which suffers remains withdrawn from the ambient agitation, isolates itself to have as little contact with the outside as possible: it seeks as much as possible to stay in its bubble. An attitude to try to make yourself very small is associated with it. He won’t want to play anymore, looking sad and turning away from food and his usual interests.

Conversely, he may appear worried and fidgety more than usual, not staying still. In this case, he changes his attitudes towards us: he avoids meeting us or even runs away when we meet him or call him.

In both cases, it will refuse contact with humans and very often will stop eating. If we handle it and especially if we come out of its voluntary isolation, there is a good chance that it will rebel against us: grunts or bites are commonplace in this kind of situation.


If it is internal, abdominal or chest pain, it will avoid moving as much as possible and will stay curled up in a ball, keeping the tail between its paws. With his back arched, he will have his head down. During internal pain, his abdomen may appear tense.

A different position, called a relief position, will adopt so that the painful area will put to rest. Sometimes he will turn his head towards this painful area.

Signs of pain in dogs

The excessive licking is also a very good indicator of pain. If it cannot lick the place that bothers or hurts it, the animal then adopts evocative behaviors that must observe. For example the pain associated with an ear infection frequently gives rise to typical behaviors of a dog shaking its head strongly.

The dog may also bite the painful area, pull out the hair, or rub it against a support. All of these postures are very useful to observe in order to find pain in your pet.

Read More

Systemic lupus erythematosus in dogs

Seasonal dog allergies

Castration in dogs


More obvious, a lameness will indicate pain on a limb : if the animal associates excessive licking in a particular place, it will be necessary to look for an injury, a wound, a sting or a foreign body (thorn, spikelet, splinter …). Without going as far as lameness, a paw that drags when walking is suggestive of pain in the limbs.

An unusual gait may also indicate joint pain or more diffuse, such as back pain. A reluctance to move and move around also indicates pain of the same type, even internal.

Predictable pain

After a medical act or surgery, we sometimes wonder if our animal is in pain, and indeed there may be post-operative pain as in humans. If your animal refuses contact, eats little and seems prostrate on return home, it is probably in pain and in this case an analgesic treatment (that is to say against pain) can be prescribed by your veterinarian. The signs mentioned above should look for carefully.

Sometimes a simple increase in the respiratory rate is observed. If there is no obvious reason for this – such as a high temperature or more intense exercise than usual – this can be the first indicator of suffering from your dog. It will then be important to look for others.

Thus, the expression of pain in animals can take different forms. From the cry of pain when stepped on its paw or the tip of its tail gets stuck in a door, to more crude signs such as refusal of contact, isolation, loss of appetite, dogs know how to tell us when they are not well, it is up to us to know how to interpret their messages.

If in doubt, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian as your pet is well worth not being allowed to suffer.