How Can You Tell When Your Dog Is In Pain

by Sue
(Nova Scotia Canada)

Reader Question:

My 12 year old dog is a small breed with a heart condition and now been diagnosed with kidney failure. Has lost 11/2 pounds in less than a month when we put him on special vet food.

How can you tell when your dog is suffering in pain?

Veterinarian Response to Pain in Dogs

Hello Sue,

Animals can experience many forms of suffering including pain, anxiety, digestive tract problems (such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, constipation, and loss of appetite), and difficulty breathing. Animals may not show their suffering in obvious ways. Signs can include pacing, excessive panting, hiding, reduced appetite, aggression, grumpiness, and/or reduced interaction with family members.

Pet owners should look for five things when assessing their pet’s quality of life: eating, drinking, urinating, defecating, and joy. The first four are necessary to keep the body going and are relatively simply to evaluate. The fifth, joy, is obviously more subjective but boils down to whether the pet is still able to experience the positive aspects of life in a meaningful manner or if its days are filled primarily with struggles.

Your veterinarian can help you with a more detailed assessment of your dog’s quality of life. My thoughts are with you.

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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