Friday, April 4, 2014

What Does Pain Look Like?

In yesterday's post, I speculated that what might appear to be anger in a pet might actually be pain.  I starting thinking about other quotes I've read on various lists and forums - where people described behavior that I thought could have been pain related:

"He's not in any pain; he just looks depressed"
"My dog is moving slowly during agility competition. What can I feed him to make him move faster"
"Hot wire fencing doesn't hurt. The dog just yelps when he she touches it."
"Prong collars don't hurt. They simply apply even pressure."
"Putting a slip leash high behind the ears is calming"
"Choke chains don't hurt. The sound of the metal tells the dog to stop pulling."
"Shock collars don't hurt.  It's like static electricity from walking on carpet."

Looking depressed, moving slowly, refusing to  move, yelping, whining, crying, etc... and all be indicators of pain. What looks like obedience or calm might be a dog who is afraid to do anything because of pain or fear of pain.

Other possible indicators
- Chewing or licking a certain body part
- Panting when it's not hot
- Flicking the tongue (usually gastric distress)
- Snapping at invisible flies (can be gastric distress)
- Pacing
- Snapping or growling or biting (humans other household pets)
- Any change in personality or behavior
- Toilet training issues
- Loss of appetite refusing to eat (could be general pain, gastric issue or dental issues)
 - Moving away (from humans and/or other animals)
- Change in gait, change in how the head is held, uncoordinated gait
- Walking faster than normal
- Circling
- Coughing (might indicate heart issues)
- Biting or chewing at the leash, collar or harness
- Lifting a paw
- Scooting
- Staring at guardians
- Following guardians
- Vomiting
- Increased appetite
- Eating non food items (could be gastric distress)

Dogs can't say "Ow! That hurts!" So pet parents should be aware of pain indicators. Don't drag a dog who is refusing to walk. Don't yank a dog who is walking too quickly. If a pup starts chewing dry wall, don't throw a can of pennies. Call the vet instead. Never punish a dog for growling, snapping nor biting. Imagine being in a lot of pain and when you try to tell someone about it, you get your face smashed into the ground - more pain. (alpha rolling)

Be aware that a lot of "tools" and "equipment" that we use on dogs are specifically designed to cause pain and discomfort.  Not only can the pain be immediate, but there can also be long term problems with the over use or improper use of certain types of equipment.

Be aware that over exercise and/or improper or dangerous exercise can cause pain.

If you suspect your pet might be in pain, consult with a general practice vet or a specialist vet (internal medicine, orthopedic, sports, etc..)

Also See:  When Assessing Medical Issues, Rule Out Medical First

Has your dog had any behavioral issues that turned out to be pain related?
Tells us about in the comments section below

Email general questions to

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dangers of Choke Chains

From Bill Campbell's
Behavior Problems in Dogs
Page 247. According to a Swedish Study by Anders Halgren of 400 dogs of owners who agreed to have their dogs' spines X rayed - 63% had spinal injuries. Of the injured dogs with neck (cervical) injuries, 91% had experienced harsh jerks on the leash or were serious leash strainers. Among aggressive or overactive dogs, 78% had spinal injuries.

When Someone Says It Doesn't Hurt, It Probably Does

I have never heard a trainer say, "The clicker doesn't hurt." nor "Praise and treats don't hurt."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Does Your Pet's Topical Flea/Tick Medication Hurt?

I'm a member of several dog training and dog health lists. A couple of months ago,  on one of my lists, someone had posted that she had never seen animals have any trouble with flea and tick medications except for a cat who would get mad after an application.  She said the cat would walk around sulking for an hour.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dangers of Antlers and Bones

Note: Discuss food choices/precautions with your vet

Puddin just got the all-clear from her vet after loosing a major tooth.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Puppy Biting Part II. Attention Biting. Stress Biting

In our last post on biting, we mentioned the puppy biting is normal.  But sometimes puppies (and adult dogs) can bite because they learned that it's a way to get our attention.  There are a couple of ways that we can combat attention biting.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Elizabethan Collar Alternatives

In my last post, you might have noticed that Lupe's soft E-collar didn't look like the standard plastic lamp shade shaped protective device.
Her collar is soft and flexible - just one of the many alternatives to the plastic cone collar.