How to tell if a dog is in pain
Your dog literally trusts you with his life. Even so, he may instinctually hide his pain from you. It’s not because he suddenly doesn’t think you’re in his corner. The culprit, rather, is evolutionary hard-wiring that goes back thousands of years to your dog’s ancestral beginnings as a hunter-predator. “From an evolutionary standpoint, dogs who exhibited outward signs of pain were more at risk of attack from a predator. Over time, dogs learned to mask symptoms, which showed weakness, or vulnerability. From a survival perspective, many animals tend to hide outward expressions of pain,” says veterinarian, Jeff Werber. But you can still learn what your dog actually wants without having a full conversation.
Your usually ravenous pup won’t eat
No, your dog doesn’t think she needs to go on a diet. A change in appetite can signal a number of medical conditions in dogs. It can also mean your dog is in pain. “Owners usually notice when their chowhounds aren’t living up to their usual reputation for eating anything they can get their paws on. Lack of appetite, or, inappetence, as your veterinarian may call it, can be a sign of pain, or discomfort. If your pup has never missed a meal, there is reason to be concerned about her turning up her nose to food and treats,” says veterinarian Meghann Robinson. If your dog’s only symptom is skipping a meal, make sure her food is fresh and passes the smell test before you panic. Try giving her tasty, nutritious food you know she loves, such as cooled home-cooked chicken without seasoning. If her appetite remains on-off for more than a day or two, call the vet.
Your dog is breathing heavily
It is normal for dogs to pant heavily during and after exertion. But panting after exercise can sometimes also indicate medical emergencies, including pain, heatstroke, or poisoning. It’s also one of the dog illness symptoms to watch out for. “Panting is a subtle, often overlooked sign of pain. Some dogs in pain pant more than usual, but eat, drink, and seem normal. If the temperature where the dog spends most of their time hasn’t changed much, but the amount they’re panting has, heed this warning and consult your veterinarian right away. Panting can also be a subtle sign of severe pancreatitis. It was in my own dog, and even I, as a vet, missed it for a week,” shares Dr Robinson. In the worst case, these symptoms can mean that your dog has cancer.