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How do I know if my Dog is in Pain

Dog’s feel pain just like people, and they may  be hurting in silence because they can’t tell us. They try hard to conceal it because being injured is dangerous in the wild. Limping and picking up a paw are obvious signs of pain, but many others are more subtle and can go on for years without us noticing.  So, how can we tell   if they are hurting? By learning to catch these less obvious pain signs, we can provide relief sooner and save our furry friends from suffering.

So, what should we look for?

Being in pain is exhausting and many dogs will sleep more during the day because moving hurts. You may notice your dog isn’t playing with their favorite toys like they used to. They stop going up the stairs and jumping on and off the couch. They stop stretching and avoid slippery tile or hardwood floors. We may just chalk it up to old age and brush it off, but maybe they are in pain.

They may be restless at night because they have trouble getting comfortable. It may be difficult to lie down, sit or get up. They may not sit as often, sit crooked or with their legs out. You may observe them circling more when trying to lie down. When getting up, they may pull themselves up with their front legs rather than pushing off with their hind legs. All of these are signs of decreased flexibility in the spine and hips.

Are they having accidents in the house? Increased stiffness and discomfort can lead to a decreased ability to get up and get outside to go potty. In addition, hind leg weakness can lead to incontinence because their anal muscles have also gotten weaker. Are they showing increased aggression to humans or other pets? A dog in pain may growl or show their teeth when being touched  or moved.

Do they look off balance? Is their head down? Is their back curved or hunched?  When lifting their paws, are they light on their back legs and heavy on their front legs? Are they light on just one leg? They may not be putting weight on that leg because it hurts.

Are they losing muscle? If they are favoring a limb, it will get weak and lose muscle mass.   To  find out, gently place your hands around your dogs right and left hind thighs. Is one significantly thicker than the other? Are they

both very thin? Are the front legs more muscular than their back legs? These are all indicators of them shifting weight to avoid pain. Are their nails worn down or uneven? This could indicate they are dragging their feet.

We love our furry family members and we will do anything for them. If you have noticed one or more of these signs, your baby may be quietly suffering with muscle or joint pain. To learn more; contact your local Canine Rehab Provider or Vet to find drug free, non-surgical solutions for your pet’s pain.

Tod Miner, PT CCRP is the owner of Arfit Dog Rehab and Fitness. He has been treating dogs and cats for muscle and joint injuries since 2007. Arfit provides free rehabilitation services to PAWS and other rescue organizations.

Arfit Dog Rehab and Fitness 2112 N. Clybourn ave A1 Chicago, il 60614


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