Health & Medical

Ask a Vet: How to Tell When My Dog Is in Pain

How to Tell When Your Dog Is in Pain | Vanillapup

Dogs cannot tell us when they are in pain. So, any change in behaviour should be a red flag. Here are some signs of pain that mean it’s time to see the vet.

Q. What are the ways to tell whether my dog is in pain?

Dogs may express pain in different ways. It depends on the individual pain tolerance levels, source, severity, and duration of pain.

Some signs of pain may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Reduced food or water intake
  • Increased licking of the lips, chewing more slowly, or unwilling to chew hard food if there is oral pain (E.g. from severe teeth decay)
  • Abnormal urination or defaecation
  • Limping or any abnormal walking gait
  • Taking longer to lie down or get up
  • Crouching of the body
  • Tensing up any part of the body more than usual, or unwilling for a specific area of the body to be touched
  • Shivering

It is very important to note that all of the above signs are non-specific and may have other causes that are not pain-related.

As dogs cannot verbally express their pain to us, any change in their normal behaviour may be significant. If you observe any of these signs or if your dog is just behaving abnormally in any way, do contact your vet immediately for further advice and assessment.


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Dr. Brian Loon
Principal Veterinary Surgeon at Amber Vet
BSc. BVMS (Hons) (Murdoch), Certificate Veterinary Acupuncture (IVAS)

Dr. Brian Loon graduated from Murdoch University, Western Australia in 2007 and has since been practising as a small animal veterinarian in Singapore. His areas of special interest include diagnostic ultrasonography, endoscopy, and minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery (laparoscopy).

He is also certified in Veterinary Acupuncture with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) and a certified and registered member of PennHIP, an internationally known modality for diagnosing hip dysplasia in cats and dogs.
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