K9 Corner, Nov. 8, 2016

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Contributing writer

I got an email this past week describing pain symptoms in cats and decided that a column on pain symptoms in dogs might be helpful. Although I’ve had my share of evaluating pain symptoms (or lack of) in my own dogs over the past 40-plus years, I am still grateful to have access to the Internet to provide a more complete list. Before going further, I have to make sure that all dog owners are aware that some breeds as well as some individual dogs are very stoical and will not show any symptoms until the tissue damage becomes visible or the dog exhibits a behavior change.            

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For example, my first dog was a show dog so she was intact for the first six years, or until one day I picked her up and the pressure of my arm on her belly caused an outpouring of infection. The veterinarian couldn’t understand why I hadn’t brought her in earlier, but she showed no signs of distress. The diagnosis was pyometra of the womb, but the infection was too severe for immediate surgery. After treatment with antibiotics she was spayed.            

According to VetInfo (www.vetinfo.com/dog-pain-symptoms.html) there are seven categories of symptoms of pain in dogs.    

1. Behavior changes such as chewing excessively, barking, showing aggression, even toward owner. The dog may suffer anxiety and stress, be restless, or display uncontrollable behavior. Other signs might be depression, refusal to eat, sleepiness, lethargy, slow movements, lack of interest in games or activities. It should be noted that dogs can have “bad days” just like humans. If the abnormal behavior improves the next day, consider it normal.

2. Trembling is another sign of pain but you must first rule out fear and exposure to extreme temperatures before scheduling a trip to the veterinarian.

3. Dogs may whine when in pain, but many will not vocalize at all.

4. Excessive licking or chewing, especially around one area is a dog’s way of relieving pain. This gives the veterinarian an idea of the location of the problem.

5. Dogs in pain may refuse to eat. Make a note of the day and time and observe if the dog still ignores eating for 48 hours. Now it is time to visit the doctor.

6. If your dog falls or stumbles around the house or suddenly collapses, I would consider this an emergency and race to the veterinarian.

7. A dog in acute pain, such as having been hit by a car, will often have increased shallow respirations or may pant. This would also be an emergency, especially if you saw the incident.

A word of warning, if you suspect your dog is in pain, do not exercise him and avoid stressing him. Watch for discharges from the eyes, nose and ears. Be aware of any swelling, rashes, coughing, sneezing, hair loss, or foul odor from the mouth. Tell the doctor if you have observed a foul odor in the urine or feces.

Let’s hope you never have to remember these signs.