Is my dog in pain?

There is nothing worse than the thought of our best friend being in pain and them not being able to tell us about it. We love our pets and would do anything for them, so the thought of our dogs being in any sort of discomfort can be quite upsetting. What’s more, dogs have been known to even hide their pain, so how can we tell if your dog isn’t feeling too good? In this article, we’ll give you as much advice as we can, and hopefully you’ll know what to look for.

Why would they hide it?

This is one of those doggy traits that goes back to their earliest evolution. As pack animals, hiding pain helps to maintain status within the group, as, through evolutional imperative, the weak cannot make it to the status of Alpha. What’s more, disguising pain is a way of keeping predators at bay, as many hunters will look out for the weaker animals in the pack as the best target. 

These sort of instincts are very long lived in dogs and they’re unlikely to change them any time soon, so it’s not surprising that they hide pain when it’s hardwired into their being. And as much as we’d love to explain to them that their status in our pack is assured, it’s unfortunate that we aren’t able to do this (until we can invent a human-dog translation device).

What are the signs of pain?

They may try to hide it, but there are some tell-tale signs of pain in dogs that you can look out for and we’ve listed them here for you:

  • Aggression – Your pet may be tender and as much as they’d like a belly rub or chin tickle, they might snarl or growl if you approach them
  • Flattened ears – It’s a sign of fear and pain makes all of us afraid, so if there’s nothing obvious that’s spooked them, they may be suffering
  • Limping – One of the most obvious signs, a lame animal should prompt an immediate trip to the vet to find out what’s wrong
  • Shaking – If it’s not too cold and there’s nothing obvious that’s given them a fright, a shaking dog can be a dog in pain
  • Crying – Some dogs cry naturally, so this can be a hard one to spot in those more prone to it, but it can be very obvious in a dog that isn’t, and could mean that something is wrong
  • Loss of appetite – One of the most obvious and alarming signs your pooch may be in some form of pain or have something wrong with it, though there are a number of reasons why they may have no desire to eat.

There are other signs but these are the most tell-tale one and in all cases, if the reason for any of this behaviours isn’t obvious (and even in some cases if it is), a trip to see the vet is warranted and recommended. A trained vet will be able to diagnose the problem and with any luck, will be able to get your dog back to his or her old self again in no time. 


One source of pain common to dogs can be issues with their gut and digestive system such as pancreatitis. At tails.com we’ve created a dog food recipe specifically for dogs with sensitive stomachs that can help if this is the cause.

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