Even though dogs can't speak our language, these intelligent creatures have a way of communicating their thoughts and needs with us. Some are obvious, others aren't as much. To give the best care for our pups, we must be aware and attentive to their body language, especially when it comes to health issues. Here are five important signs you should recognise that indicate your dog might be in pain.
1. Licking And Biting Excessively
Many of us would be familiar with this one. My dog, Quinn, does this all the time. Licking his paws still remains a huge hobby of his till today; he'd lick his paws as if they were made of bacon, only to stop after copious amounts of baby menthol oil is applied to his two paws. Quinn has eczema, and we never knew till he was about three, because we simply thought he was being a dog! Dogs tend to care for their wounded area by licking it as a way of treating the wound. As owners, we should immediately pick up on this as a possible sign of pain in the target area. Make sure to regularly check the wound to prevent it from becoming septic.
2. Panting Incessantly
Belly aches, tummy troubles, back pain, twisted legs and painful paws. These are just a few examples of what might make your dog pant heavily (unless she's pregnant or about to have a litter). These pants are usually stress-induced, and since it's hard for dog owners in Singapore to differentiate between the heat-induced pants and those of pain, one has to watch very carefully. If these pants start out of nowhere, then you should take caution and seek a vet for advice.
Instead of running to the door to greet you, your pet huddles up in a corner and shuns those belly rubs that it loves so much. Back when Quinn accidentally ingested an entire seven-centimetre pork bone, he would just lay on his side all afternoon, ignoring belly rubs and treat offers of his favourite chicken skin. We soon realised that he was suffering from extreme pain when he stood up due to the pork bone jutting painfully into his internal organs. He would even squeal when being held or turned the other way. Off to the vet we went!
4. Sudden Aggression
What was once a sweet, friendly pooch now acts like the T-Rex from Jurassic World. It's snapping, biting, and acting as if the world has become its enemy. Being aggressive out of the blue is a sign that your dog is in some pain and needs to be checked out.
5. Lack Of Appetite
Akin to humans, dogs tend to lose their appetite when in pain. They are also capable of vomiting or regurgitation to expel the bacteria in their stomach (note: vomiting and regurgitation are different, read more about it here). If your dog has a sudden loss of appetite, you should seek immediate vet attention, as it can be an indication of liver or kidney disease, among other serious illnesses.
Japanese article: 犬の噛む、舐めるは痛みのサインかも？犬の痛みを表す5つのサイン