How to Tell if Your Dog is in Pain

728 x 120
**Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you buy something. It may be enough to buy us a coffee, and we sure do love our coffee!

dog in painDog’s can’t use their words to tell us when they are in pain. So, how do you tell if your dog is in pain? Sometimes it will be obvious to you, while other times it will be more difficult to tell. Let’s go over some signs your dog is in pain that you can look out for. Find out what you can do to help your dog, and what you can give your dog for pain.


How to Tell if a Dog is in Pain


Limping is a clear sign your dog is in pain. Is your dog favoring a paw or leg? Walking with a limp often an indication that your dog is suffering an injury. It could be a wound on their paw or leg or joint pain associated with arthritis.


Mobility problems.

The way your dog moves can show you when something is up. Look for signs of stiffness when moving around. Is he slow to get up? Is there a change in posture, like hunching over. Is your dog sleeping more than usual? Look for any sign of hesitance during usual exercise routines. Pain will often slow dogs down.


Excessive grooming.

While a certain amount of self-grooming, like licking, scratching or biting, is natural for dogs, when it becomes obsessive you should be concerned. If your dog is continually licking or scratching the same spot it could be because they have a wound they are trying to clean, or pain they are trying to get rid of. Even internal pain can cause a dog to constantly lick the sore area.


Change in personality.

If your dog suddenly starts acting differently, like unusual aggression or shyness, then this could be a sign that they are in pain. Are they hiding or avoiding attention? Are they more aggressive with you or other family members? Dogs in pain are more likely to lash out. Also look for a change in their energy levels as this can indicate pain as well.


Excessive panting.

Dogs pant regularly for a number of reasons, like during strenuous exercise or if they are overheating in warm weather. If your dog is panting or breathing heavily for no obvious reason then it may be due to stress caused by pain. Any changes in breathing can indicate pain, so also look for a slowing down of their breath.



If your dog is showing signs of restlessness, like pacing or an inability to get comfortable, then this could be a sign of pain. They may be having trouble sleeping, lying in an unusual position, or constantly getting up immediately after laying down. If you find your pup is constantly adjusting his position when sitting or lying down then they could be in pain.


Loss of appetite.

Look for changes in appetite. If your dog doesn’t seem interested in his food or isn’t eating as much as normal this can be a sign of illness or pain. If they are dropping their food this can indicate pain in your dog’s mouth or jaw.


Unusual vocalization.

Whimpering, whining, growling, yelping, moaning, or howling that is out of character can indicate your dog is in pain. Particularly when it is associated with certain movements, like stepping down on a paw or lying on a body part that hurts.


Excessive drooling.

More saliva than usual can be a sign your dog is unwell. It can indicate nausea or internal pain.


Changes to eyes.

Dogs in pain will squint. Look out for any redness, discharge, or cloudiness as this can indicate pain in your dog’s eyes. If they are constantly rubbing their eyes this can indicate an issue also. If your dog has dilation or shrinking of the pupils this can also be a result of pain.


Eating grass.

Dogs eating grass is not uncommon, and they do it for a number of reasons. But one of those reasons is that they have pain in the stomach and are trying to relieve it or make themselves vomit.

Recommended Reading: Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?



If your dog is vomiting it could indicate stomach pain. Vomiting can be caused by a number of issues so if this continues you should take them to the vet immediately.



If your dog is visibly shaking, shivering, or trembling, this can be another sign of pain. It can be an indicator of internal pain from nausea, poisoning, or internal injury.


Irregular bowel movements.

Pain can affect the consistency of your dog’s stools. Any changes to your dog’s regular bathroom habits can indicate pain and stress, so look out for anything out of the ordinary.


Excessive shedding.

All dogs will shed hair from time to time, some more than others. But if your dog is shedding more than usual, or losing hair from a particular spot, it can indicate pain from a wound or skin problem.


What To Do When Your Dog is in Pain

So you have noticed something out of character with your dog, what do you do now? First, you should try to look for the cause of your dog’s pain. Carefully check your dog over for wounds or injuries. Make sure you are careful as your dog could lash out if you press on a painful area. If you can find something you should apply whatever first aid you can.

If you cannot find the source of your dog’s pain, or you are unsure why they are acting the way they are, then take them to the vet. Trust yourself and your knowledge of your dog. If you think something is odd, seek professional help asap.


What Can I Give My Dog For Pain?

We have a couple of clear warnings for you here: Do not medicate your dog yourself and do not give a dog human medications. Before you give your dog any medications, talk to your vet for advice.

After talking to your vet and finding out what is causing your dog pain, there are some things you can do to help manage their pain. Some chronic pain, like joint pain and arthritis, can be managed with changes to your dog’s diet. Increasing their intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation associated with this kind of pain.

Recommended Reading: How to Boost Your Dog’s Immune System

Dogs that are carrying excess weight can develop pain associated with being overweight. Keeping your dog on a healthy whole food diet can reduce body fat and thus reduce excess stress on their joints. A regular exercise routine can help to keep them lean and prevent this type of pain.

Recommended Reading: The Best Ways to Exercise Your Dog

Massage and physical therapy can also be used to help ease your dog’s pain. You can learn to do it yourself or take your dog to a professional.  Your vet can help with advice on the right diet and alternative treatments for your dog’s particular type of injury or illness.

Take a pet first aid course so you know how to treat your dog when he is in pain. Knowing what you can do for your dog when he is in pain is a great investment for them and you.

Get pet insurance to help avoid having to pay out too much for any health care costs that are associated with your dog’s pain or injury.


We hope this helps you figure out when your dog is in pain, and what you can do to help them get through it. No-one wants their pup to suffer so make sure you keep an eye on them and look for any changes. If you are at all concerned, it is best to get them to the vet as soon as possible to find out what is causing them pain.

P.S. Help a friend learn how to tell if their dog is in pain by pinning this!

how to tell dog in pain

Don't Forget!! Follow Dog Training Me on Pinterest for more articles like this! Just click 'Follow on Pinterest' below!

Sign up to our newsletter for regular tips and advice on training your dog.

* indicates required
Thanks! We'd love it if you followed us too!

Send this to a friend