Is Your Dog in Pain? 10 Signs of Dog Pain in Lansing, MI

Is Your Dog in Pain? 10 Signs of Dog Pain in Lansing, MI

As a dog owner, you may wonder how you can tell if your dog is in pain, and while some signs may be obvious, such as your dog limping and crying out in pain, other signs and symptoms may be more subtle. Sometimes, dogs who are suffering from chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis or soft-tissue injuries may not appear painful to owners at all. Also, it’s important to note that dogs, and other domestic animals, may exhibit pain in different ways, and in some cases, mask pain quite efficiently.

Do Dogs Feel Pain Like We Do?

You may have heard people say that dogs don’t feel pain like people do, but this is a myth. We all share the same nervous system channels, and perhaps the reason this myth has persisted is the fact that dogs in pain can be very stoic, and the reason for this is based on their evolutionary history. Dogs and other prey animals have inherited an instinct to hide any pain caused by injury because, in the wild, an animal that is injured is vulnerable. So, dogs can suppress signs of pain and injury to protect themselves and their social standing in the pack.

10 Signs of Pain in Dogs

Since dogs cannot talk and tell us how they’re feeling, as pet owners we have to use our powers of deduction and observation to monitor our pets and how they’re feeling. Signs of pain and distress vary from dog to dog, and some dogs have high pain thresholds, and others hardly at all. If you think that your dog is painful, contact your veterinarian in Lansing, MI and make an appointment. However, in the meantime, the following signs and symptoms indicate if your dog is in pain.

1. Crying Out and Vocalization

An obvious sign of pain in dogs involves vocalizing when jumping off of the couch or getting up from a lying down position. Vocalization also includes increased barking, yipping, howling, or yelping, or even growling. In some cases, dogs may cry out at random times, or cry out if you lift them or pet them a certain way.

2. Panting and Agitation

Sometimes dogs pant when they are experiencing pain or are stressed. Dogs who can’t see, get comfortable, or act agitated or uneasy may be experiencing pain.

3. Excessive Grooming

We all know that dogs groom themselves through licking, but if you notice your dog licking constantly at a limb or a paw, your best friend may be in pain. Excessive grooming is a common pain response to osteoarthritis and other joint issues.

4. Shaking

Dogs who are in pain may also seem to shake or tremble, although dogs can shake because they are cold or scared. However, if your dog seems to tremble, and have muscle tremors more than usual, contact your veterinarian.

5. Restlessness

Painful dogs can be restless as well and have a hard time getting comfortable, especially if they are having a hard time sitting or lying down or getting up from a sitting or lying down position. The inability to get comfortable can be a sign of injury or pain and warrants an appointment with your veterinarian.

6. Limping

This symptom of pain is obvious, but if your dog is limping, he’s probably in pain. If you don’t see any obvious signs of a foreign body such as a cactus spine or a goat-head, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Also, if you notice swelling at any area on the limb, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian can conduct an examination and do an X-ray to rule out a physical injury, osteoarthritis, canine lymphoma, or osteosarcoma.

7. No Appetite

Just as in humans, painful dogs are not interested in eating. Although a dog’s lack of appetite could be a sign of other things, such as GI issues, it can also be a sign that your dog is in pain.

8. Aggression and Hiding

Every dog is unique, and some dogs may act more aggressively due to pain or may spend more time hiding, away from members of the household. If your dog nips at you while lifting him, or avoids being around you, don’t take it personally. It may mean that your dog is in pain and doesn’t want to be petted or touched.

9. Changes in Bathroom Habits

When a dog is painful, for example, has back problems or osteoarthritis, he may have a hard time eliminating, may vocalize while trying to go to the bathroom, and it may take a while for him to finish. You may also notice that your best friend has a hard time getting out the door in time and see an increase in incontinence.

10. Additional Changes

As a dog owner, you know your dog well, and chances are you’ll notice if your dog is not acting normally, or maybe uncomfortable. For example, if your best friend is reluctant to go on long walks or is hesitant to jump on the couch next to you, he may not be feeling his best.

Other More Subtle Signs Your Dog is in Pain in Lansing, MI

In addition to the symptoms listed above, dogs in pain may exhibit the following, less obvious symptoms as well:

Increased Heart Rate

A dog in pain may also have an increase in resting heart rate, and as a dog owner, you may not readily notice this. The resting heart rate for small dogs and puppies ranges from 120-160, middle-size and larger breeds range from 6-120 beats per minute. You can take your dog’s heart rate at home by placing the four fingers of your hand along the groin area, feel for the femoral pulse, and count the beats for 15 seconds. Then multiply by four to get the heart rate.


Another subtle sign of pain in dogs includes generalized malaise and depression. Painful dogs don’t like to move around or play and may spend most of their time in one position or hiding.

Talk to a Vet About Your Dog’s Pain

If you think that your dog is in pain, please call Pennsylvania Veterinary Care in Lansing, MI at (517) 393-8010 or make an appointment with our veterinarian. Depending on the cause, your veterinarian is your best resource and can develop a treatment plan to make your best friend more comfortable.

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