Owners do not recognise this sign when the dog is in pain

Molnár Enikő

2024. May 15 - Photos: Love My Dogz

Unfortunately, dogs can't tell you if something hurts or if they don't feel well. However, they often show and if we know the signs, we can spot trouble sooner.


It can often seem that dogs are so hardy and tolerate pain so well that they don’t even give a sign if something is wrong. It can be really difficult to spot the symptoms and most dogs will not complain about the slightest discomfort. However, if we don’t recognise in time that something is wrong, it can develop into a more serious problem over time. That’s why it’s important to understand the signs that can tell if a dog is in pain.

Our pet communicates without a voice most of the time

If the dog is in pain, the following signs may be observed

Not all dogs are the same, so it’s worth bearing in mind that there may be differences in the way they show pain. It’s also important to remember that the owner’s knowledge of their dog and their dog’s behaviour plays a big part in recognising the signs. Changes are often more telling than concrete signs. The clearest indicators of pain are physical symptoms, but they are not the only ones that can indicate a problem. It is also worth paying attention to mobility difficulties, but what people may often overlook is the change in behaviour. Often this is one of the first signs of discomfort or, worse, pain or illness. That’s why we start our list with this.

Behavioural changes

Physical discomfort and pain cannot be experienced without a change in behaviour. We know this about ourselves;even asimple’ headache can change how patient we are, or how much we can tolerate our surroundings and noise. It makes us more impulsive and irritable. It is true that many things can be behind the change in behaviour, but physical causes should not be ruled out. Behavioural signs of pain may include:

  • the animal becomes louder, barks more;
  • not resting, pacing back and forth, restless, irritable;
  • its sleep patterns change;
  • avoids touching;
  • licks itself too much;
  • aggressive.
You don’t always have to think the worst, a change in behaviour can be more than just a sign of pain. For example, dogs, like humans, get more rest in the winter months.

Physical symptoms

These are perhaps the most obvious signs that your pet may be in some kind of pain. Physical symptoms can vary depending on the problem, but there are some general signs to look out for:

  • wheezing (regardless of temperature, apparently for no reason);
  • the dog often hangs its head (even when not sniffing);
  • its back is hunched;
  • shaking, trembling;
  • its muscles tense up, maybe even twitch.

Mobility problems

Most mobility problems are associated with some kind of pain, so it’s important to notice if your pet’s mobility changes. This can manifest itself in limping, slower walking or difficulty getting to and from bed.

It’s very important that if you suspect your pet is in pain, you should always take them to see a vet! It could be nothing, but it could also be a serious problem.

Dogs tell us a lot of things without saying a word. Click here and find out how they show that they are feeling lonely.

behaviour change dog pain Pain pain detection physical signs of pain reduced mobility signs of pain

Related articles