Saturday, September 25, 2010

How Can I Tell if My Dog is in Pain?

Your dog is more like you than you probably realize. Your dog feels pain for a lot of the same reasons you do. Things such as infections, arthritis, dental problems, bone disease and cancer are among the problems we share with our dogs. Aching, sore muscles after playtime or even after surgery are common in dogs. Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you when he’s in pain or where they are hurt.

Getting to know your dog’s personality, everyday habits and moods are the key to understanding when your dog is in pain. Sudden changes in behavior, mood and/or eating patterns are just some of the signs that your dog may be ill. It’s very important that you can identify the signs because the sooner your dog is diagnosed and treated, the sooner your dog will be on his way to a happy, well balanced life in mind, body and spirit.


* Whining
* Whimpering
* Groaning
* Yelping


* Decreased appetite
* Withdraw from social interaction
* Changes in sleeping/drinking
* Lapses in housetraining


* Restless
* Reluctant to move
* Trembling, circling or lying still
* Seeks more affection than usual


* Grimacing, vacant stare
* Excessive panting when resting
* Enlarged pupils
* Glazed, wide eyes


* Limping
* Hides
* Doesn’t want to be held
* Protects a body part


* Ears pinned back
* Growls, hisses, bites
* Acts out of character
* Outgoing dogs may become docile


* Excessive licking
* Biting
* Excessive scratching


* Lays on side
* Hunched with hindquarters raised and front end down on the ground

Please keep in mind that these signs are only to be used as a guide.  You will know your dog best.  In all cases where you suspect an illness to be present, please seek veterinary assistance immediately.


  1. My dog pants excessively and I know he had joint pain issues. What are some ways to help this without resorting to Rimadyl or other pain meds?

  2. I agree that Rimadyl is not the best choice. Although it is often prescribed for the relief of pain associated with arthritis, there has been some controversy surrounding the drug. It has been reported to be dangerous and even deadly and the side effects can be traumatizing.

    As you know I do preach to a number of holistic alternatives. First, please be sure that your dog has been thoroughly checked out by a veterinarian and that there are no other underlying issues or problems which may be adding to the joint pain. In order to better understand the issue, we would have to take a full history, determining activity level, age, prior medical history, etc.

    Some safter alternatives that I would suggest would be accupuncture, canine massage, music therapy (can be coupled with massage), Reiki and a number of natural remedies such as Arnica, and esstentials oils used in Aromatherapy. Additionally, I highly suggest the use of Tumeric to aid dogs suffering from arthritis. It is a natural anti inflamatory and can work wonders. Humans also use Feverfew and this can also work for dogs.

    An aromatherapy mix I have used in the past starts with a base of sweet almond oil and contains the essential oils of black pepper, peppermint, spearmint and juniper berry. This aromatherapy mixture should be rubbed into the dogs skin or as close to the skin as possible as it's hard with double coated dogs.

    If you like, I can send you the exact proportionate mix.

    I am a huge proponent of canine massage and my clients (the guardians actually) swear by it. My favourite success story is my 18 year old Jack Russel, JD, who is doing wonderfully with massage after a scary fall down a flight of stairs. He is completely deaf and partially blind and has been doing wonderful on massage.

    Please seek out the services of a pet holistic practitioner for alternative modalities. Otherwise, if you are in the GTA, I would be more than happy to meet with you. As always, I am open for phone calls anytime.

    Good luck and please know that there are so many other alternatives to Rimadyl.