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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... could 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

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