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Signs of Pain & Discomfort in Dogs

Seeing your pup in pain can be very difficult. The good news is that there are treatment options to help them recover and feel more comfortable. Here, our Springfield vets discuss pain and discomfort in dogs, along with the signs and how veterinary rehabilitation and physical therapy can help.

The Effect of Pain & Discomfort on Dogs

All pet parents want to help their dogs live the happiest and healthiest life possible. This can be extremely difficult if we do not know what is happening with them internally. 

While dogs can be good at hiding their pain you also spend plenty of time with your pup and should be able to notice even the smallest of changes in their behavior. This will allow you to have them examined and treated as quickly as possible.

How do dogs show pain?

Your dog will try their best to hide every symptom of pain until it becomes too much the handle, and this is typically the point at which most people notice that there is something wrong.

In wild species, being adept at concealing signs of disease, injury and pain can prevent animals from being perceived as weak by predators - and therefore an easy target. 

It is crucial for you to seek veterinary care for your dog at the first possible sign of discomfort, as early detection of disease or illness is key to better outcomes for your dog's health, fewer long-term complications and less risk during treatment. 

What are the different types of pain in dogs?

Just like humans, our dogs can suffer from a variety of health conditions that cause acute or chronic pain, such as dental health issues or internal conditions from heart-related and immune system disorders to gastrointestinal issues. Tumors and different types of cancer can also lead to pain. Acute pain can be caused by a foreign object getting stuck in their paw, an injury while exercising, a fall, an accident or other mishaps. 

A dog of any age may contract parasites and suffer subsequent disease or infection. Senior dogs may experience pain from joint or bone disorders. diabetes or other health issues. 

How do you know when a dog is suffering?

If you are wondering what the actual signs of pain in dogs look like, there are a few subtle symptoms to look out for. Signs your dog is in pain or discomfort may include:

    • Significant decrease in appetite 
    • Tail tucked in or lowered
    • Spending more time sleeping
    • Yelping or whining 
    • Irritability 
    • Limping 
    • Reluctance to climb stairs or jump 
    • Reduced play or enjoyment of exercise 

If you have a pup that has always displayed a happy, playful and outgoing personality and they are suddenly avoiding you and refusing to eat then they may be suffering from pain.

Changes in behavior can indicate suffering and should be tended to by your veterinarian, who can examine your dog and diagnose the underlying health issue or condition. 

Just like humans experiencing pain, your dog will also display a noticeable difference in activity level while feeling discomfort. You may notice that your pup is sleeping much more than usual, especially if they are experiencing chronic pain. 

If you notice your dog suffering from pain and showing symptoms, contact your vet so the underlying issue can be diagnosed. If your pup has been injured and the pain is accompanied by bleeding, loss of consciousness, vomiting or diarrhea, this is considered a veterinary emergency that should be treated right away. Our vets in Springfield can also detect, diagnose and treat health conditions that cause chronic pain. 

What therapies are recommended for pain in dogs?

Your vet may recommend different treatment options such as acupuncture or cold laser therapy. These can be used in conjunction with our dog rehabilitation and physical therapy services at The Regional Veterinary Referral Center in Springfield.

Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture for dogs can help to stimulate healing and provide effective pain relief. When used post-surgically, veterinary acupuncture can help to improve the dog's comfort level and speed healing. In some cases, this therapy can be an effective way to reduce or eliminate the need for chronic medications. Acupuncture for dogs is most often used in conjunction with medications and other treatments.

Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs

Laser therapy can be used to manage your dog's pain by stimulating the lymphatic drainage system which can help to reduce painful inflammation, activating nerve cells to block pain signals from reaching your pup's brain, and stimulating the production of endorphins that can be helpful in counteracting pain.

Veterinary Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy in Springfield

Rehabilitative therapy is used to enhance, accelerate and optimize function after surgery or injury. It may also be used conservatively prior to surgery or prophylactically if an animal is at risk for disability. Rehabilitative therapy can have a positive effect on bone healing, and recovery of damaged neurologic tissues, muscle, tendon, ligaments and cartilage.

Learn About Physical Rehabilitation

What are the signs that a dog needs urgent veterinary care?

Depending on the cause of your pet's pain and their diagnosis, the recommended treatment options may be pain medication, wound care, various therapies or surgery.

In some cases, the pain may point to a serious health condition that requires urgent or emergency veterinary care. Along with the signs of pain listed above, the following indicate that you should contact your nearest emergency veterinary hospital right away:

  • Bloated, swollen or painful abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing, extreme coughing or choking
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye
  • Obvious pain
  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • Severe injury (car accident, fall)
  • Unable to deliver puppies or kittens
  • Lameness or inability to walk
  • Inability to urinate or defecate
  • Ingestion of poisonous foods
  • Broken bones, open wounds
  • Ingestion of foreign objects
  • Sudden blindness
  • Loss of balance
  • Blood in diarrhea

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Would you like to learn more about our pet rehabilitation services in Springfield? Contact our vets at The Regional Veterinary Referral Center to speak with a member of our team.

New Patients & Referrals Welcome

The Regional Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients in emergency situations or by referral! Our experienced specialists are passionate about the health of Springfield pets. Contact us today to learn more.

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Contact (703) 451-8900