Signs that Your Dog is in Pain

Being a good pet parent is important for most of us here. As much as dogs give us joy and happiness in our lives, they can often suffer in silence. Unlike humans, dogs are not able to directly communicate if they’re in any sort of pain. Knowing when your dog is feeling pain is important for their quality of life, so it sucks that humans can’t understand what dogs are saying! Still, there are still a number of ways you can tell if your dog is in any sort of pain and to better understand what they might be going through. 

  • Mobility Issues 
  • Mobility issues such as limping is one of the more obvious signs that your dog is in pain. Indications include refusing to go up or down the stairs, refusing to take long walks or slow to get up in the mornings. Arthritis is a common health issue that dogs experience as they get older, which will result in stiffness, tiredness, muscle atrophy and limping as well as other mobility issues. 

  • Changes in Temperament and Behavior 
  •  Imagine a usually friendly Golden Retriever suddenly trying to bite you in a not so friendly way. Well, that may be a sign that your dog is just not feeling up to par. A dog can become more aggressive and grouchy if it’s not feeling well. Behavior such as even trying to bite may be observed, especially if they are touched in an area that hurts. Other changes in behavior such as refusing to jump on the sofa, pacing back and forth repeatedly are clues that your dog might have some sort of injury. 

  • Shaking or Trembling 
  • While dogs can tremble and shake when they feel cold, both of them can be a sign that your dog is in pain. Muscle tremors in dogs can be caused by food poisoning, pancreatitis or kidney disease. Make sure that your dog stays away from poisonous food, such as chocolate or moldy compost. 


  • Changes in Eating, Drinking and Sleeping 
  • Oral pain and discomfort such as a toothache can reduce the amount your dog is eating and show noticeable differences in the amount of water they are drinking. Moreover, dogs that are in pain often sleep more in order to heal themselves, or it can just be a way for them to pass the time as it is difficult or maybe even painful to be active. 

  • Tummy Troubles 
  • Dogs experience tummy problems just like humans do! Easy symptoms to recognize a doggy with a bad tummy includes diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and excessive salivation.  

  • Increased Vocalization 
  • While dogs can’t communicate in and speak the language of humans, random whining and whimpering throughout the day for no apparent reason can be a way for your dog to communicate that he/she is in pain. If your dog cries out when a certain area of their body is touched, there is a high chance that area is a source of pain for your dog.

  • Heavy Panting and Altered Breathing 
  • Dogs pant to regulate their temperature. However, if your dog is panting heavily despite not having done any exercising, this can be a major red flag. Does your dog breathe faster or shallower than usual? These are signs that it could be painful for your dog to take a breath. Panting sometimes will also be accompanied by trembling. 

  • Hiding
  • Some dogs will start to withdraw and may even hide from you when they aren’t feeling well. In the wild, ill animals instinctively avoid predators by finding concealed resting places. Although your sick or injured dog is in no danger in your home, his or her instincts trigger the immediate desire to locate a safe hiding place

  • Changes in Body and Posture 
  • Pain caused by inflammation, infection or even cancer can cause changes in your dog’s body. Pay attention and look for signs of swelling in the paws, legs and face. Dogs may also have a change in posture, such as the ‘prayer’ position where their front legs are on the ground and their bottom in the air, an indication of abdominal pain as this posture helps them to stretch this area out. You may also notice that they seem to have trouble staying put. For example, they may try to sit or lie down and almost immediately get up and move around again, as it is difficult for them to sit or lie down. 

  • Changes To The Eyes 
  • Your dog may start to frequently squint if they are experiencing pain in the eye. Smaller pupils can be another sign that your dog has eye pain, while bigger pupils can be an indication of pain in another part of the body. 


  • Excessive Localized Grooming 
  •  A dog’s first instinct when they are hurt is often to clean and care for the wound by licking it. Dogs often lick their paws in order to soothe themselves. Although the pain may not be obvious like a wound, your dog may start to lick the area where it hurts in order to soothe themselves despite the pain being internal. 


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