Written By: Micheal Petty, DVM
As a veterinarian and pain management expert, barely a day goes by in my practice when a dog doesn’t come in whose caregiver describes behavior that is associated with pain, or in whom I see outward signs of pain. It is often accompanied by this type of explanation, “Our middle aged dog doesn’t like to go on walks anymore and has become really crabby when our one year old dog wants to play. I would think it’s because he wants to be top dog, but at bedtime, he now allows the young dog to sleep in bed with us, and that was always his territory.” These statements are then often accompanied by, “He’s going through lots of changes as he gets older, but thank goodness he is not in pain!”
Behavior Changes May Be A Sign Of Pain
Actually, these could be dog pain symptoms. I understand that caregivers may be inclined to blame behavioral changes on the process of aging; many veterinarians have the same misconceptions! In veterinary school, we are taught to look for outward signs like limping, but not all dogs in pain limp. The following are some signs of what you as a dog owner should be on the lookout for. As you read these descriptions, be aware that none of these are absolutes; if your dog has acted a certain way his whole life, then it just might be normal behavior for him. Many of my clients find it helpful to compare their dog’s behaviors today to behaviors or actions a few years ago.
Scroll through and see if you recognize any of the pain symptoms in your dog.