How To Tell If Your Dog Is In Pain And What To Do To Help

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Is Your Dog Telling You They’re In Pain?

“I wish I could tell you how I’m feeling.”

Some dogs will let you know when they’re painful in obvious ways, but others act more stoic. Dogs are generally thought to have a higher tolerance for pain than humans, and some dogs will try to hide their pain as a natural survival instinct.

Many of the signs that a dog is painful are subtle, so it’s easier to recognize them if you know what’s normal with your pet. Being aware of your dog’s normal activities and behavior will help you recognize changes that might indicate pain.

Here are six signs that your dog might be feeling painful and what you should do about it.

1. Limping

One of the most straightforward symptoms of pain is limping. This can be a sign of injury, sore paw, or even a reaction to the pain associated with arthritis.

If your dog is reluctant to go up stairs, is slow to get up in the morning, or walks stiffly, it may be arthritis pain, especially if your dog is older. Many dogs suffer from arthritis, but there are ways to help ease the pain. Ask your vet about medications and other treatments.

Back and neck problems happen a lot in dachshunds, but any breed can injure themselves.

Mobility issues and changes in posture are also indicators of a problem that needs medical attention.

2. Vocalization

“AAHHHHHH!! I think I just pulled a muscle!”

The closest thing to speaking for a dog is whining and whimpering, and a dog who cries out painfully is trying to tell you that something hurts bad. Carefully examining your dog’s body may help you discover where the pain is.

A dog who’s usually vocal may become quiet when they’re painful, which is why it’s important to be familiar with your dog’s normal behavior.

Changes in how often your dog barks, whines, or makes other vocalizations can definitely be a sign that something is wrong.

3. Stomach Ache Or Loss of Appetite

“My tummy doesn’t feel right. I shouldn’t have gotten into the trash and ate that old pizza!”

It’s not always easy to recognize tummy troubles in a dog, but here are some signs:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

If a dog is hurting, they’re less likely to eat normally. Watch for loss of appetite that might indicate pain from a stomach ailment, oral discomfort, or other conditions.

If it lasts more than a day, a visit to the vet is in order.

4. Panting

Excessive panting, especially when accompanied by trembling, can be a signal that your dog is painful.

While panting is fairly normal for dogs, you should take notice if they pant at odd times or for no reason. If you notice your dog panting in the middle of the night or in an air conditioned room, check for other indications of pain.

Pain can cause changes in breathing, including an irregular respiratory rate.

5. Restlessness Or Changes In Sleep Habits

“I just can’t fall asleep feeling this way.”

A painful dog can feel restless and exhibit an inability to get comfortable and lie still.

Pacing, repeatedly readjusting position or getting up and down frequently are all causes for concern.

Sleep patterns can be affected as well. A dog in pain might sleep more than usual or could have difficulty sleeping.

Again, familiarizing yourself with your dog’s normal behaviors will help you determine if something is out of the ordinary.

6. Changes In Behavior And Temperament

“THAT’S THE SPOT THAT HURTS!!!!!!”

Pain can change a dog’s behavior and, just like a human, a dog can act grouchy when in pain. Some dogs become more aggressive and may even bite, especially when touched in an area that hurts. It’s the animal’s natural instinct to protect themselves to prevent further pain.

Avoidance behaviors, like shying away from contact with people and other pets are common when a dog is in pain. If your dog normally enjoys being touched and is suddenly making moves to avoid your touch, pain may be the culprit. This is sometimes coupled with depression, lethargy, and mental dullness.

Other dogs may seek more attention and act needy when in pain. Any radical or sudden behavior changes are a clear indication that your dog needs medical attention from a vet.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Dog Is In Pain

It’s important to keep your dog from suffering and to keep minor problems from becoming major ones. Be gentle, and don’t make the pain worse while you’re attempting to locate the cause.

Do not medicate your dog yourself. Human medications for pain and inflammation are dangerous and can be toxic for an animal, especially in the wrong dosage or when combined with other medications. You can call your veterinarian to ask what you can give until your appointment to keep your dog comfortable.

There are many reasons the animal could be in pain, and some of them might indicate a more serious issue. Chronic pain triggers like arthritis can be managed well with your vet’s help.

Go See Your Veterinarian

If you suspect that your dog is in pain, don’t hesitate to get professional help from your veterinarian right away. They can form a diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment.

This is almost always a better option than trying to treat pain in your dog, yourself. If you try to do so, you could end up doing more harm to your dog than good. So get to the vet!

Dog Noises: 7 Strange Noises Dogs Make

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Dogs can’t talk, but as every dog parent knows, our canine companions can make a lot of other unusual sounds. Getting to know the noises your dog makes in a typical day is a great way to stay on top of your dog’s health.

Let’s take a look at some common sounds dogs make and what they mean, so you can distinguish the welcome from the worrisome.

Strange Dog Noises

1. Reverse Sneezing

One of the most dramatic sounds a dog can make is the reverse sneeze. Unlike a regular sneeze, in which air is forced out through the nose, during a reverse sneeze, the dog rapidly sucks air in through the nose.  

Often the dog will reverse sneeze multiple times in a row, creating a series of snorting and wheezing sounds that can be alarming to pet parents. Fortunately, reverse sneezing in dogs is usually harmless and will stop after a minute or two.  

We don’t know exactly what causes reverse sneezing, but many dogs will have an episode when they get excited, after drinking water, or when dust and dirt irritate their nasal passages. 

2. Coughing

Just like in humans, a dog’s cough can be benign or it can be a sign of illness. Coughing can be caused by irritation from dust or dirt, asthma, or more serious conditions like heart disease. Coughing can also be a sign of internal parasites, such as heartworms or roundworms.

In some cases, the way a cough sounds can help your veterinarian identify the underlying cause of the cough. For example, a cough caused by a collapsing trachea is often described as a “goose honk,” while a cough caused by certain respiratory diseases may sound more harsh.

If your dog has a new or worsening cough, it’s best to have it checked by your veterinarian to be sure there isn’t an underlying health problem.

3. Growling

Most of us are familiar with growling, but many people don’t realize that a growl can signal more than just anger. Dogs may growl during play or when they are frustrated, too. When a dog feels threatened or uncomfortable, a growl is his way of saying “Please step back!”

It is essential to heed this warning from your dog and give him the space he needs. Ensure visitors and friends, especially young children, know and abide by this simple rule. Pushing your dog’s boundaries when he is growling may put you and others at risk for a bite, even if your dog is typically friendly.

It is also very important not to punish your dog for growling, because this may lead to bites that happen without warning.

4. Groaning & Sighing

You might hear your dog heave a great sigh of contentment as he curls up on the couch next to you or groan as he settles into his favorite bed. These sounds are normal—and adorable! Many dogs will sigh or groan when they are relaxed and happy.

However, if you notice the groan seems more like a grunt or happens in response to a particular movement, this may be a sign that your dog is in pain. Getting to know your dog’s typical grunts and groans can help you quickly spot changes in his health.

5. Yawning

Like us, dogs often yawn when they are tired or after they’ve just woken up from a nap. But, unlike us, dogs will also use yawning as a form of non-verbal communication.

Yawning is one of several canine calming signals dogs will use to indicate that they are nervous or uncertain about a situation.

If your dog yawns when he isn’t tired—and especially if he combines this action with other calming signals such as looking away, lifting a paw, or licking his lips—this can be a sign that he’s uncomfortable and needs a little extra space. 

6. Panting

It’s normal for dogs to pant on a hot day or after a good run in the park. But dogs can also pant if they’re in pain, if they’re having difficulty breathing, or as a result of illnesses such as heart disease.

Monitoring the frequency and depth of your dog’s breathing can help you spot a potential problem. Normal breathing should be rhythmic and should require minimal effort. A good rule of thumb is that your dog should inhale and exhale no more than 30 times in one minute when he’s sleeping soundly.

If your dog is breathing heavily when he should be relaxed, it may be time for a visit to your veterinarian.

7. Rumbles, Grumbles & Flatulence

Borborygmi—the medical term for your dog’s gut sounds—can make many strange noises. Rumbles, gurgles, and even high-pitched noises can all occur as normal fluid and gas are moving along your dog’s digestive tract.

These sounds are usually normal, but when they’re accompanied by other symptoms like flatulence or diarrhea, they can be a sign of a problem.

Some illnesses, like intestinal parasites, can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which may be accompanied by an increase in gut sounds.

In this case, your veterinarian may recommend using a product like Interceptor® Plus(milbemycin oxime/praziquantel), which treats and controls intestinal parasites (tapeworm, whipworm, hookworm, and roundworm) while also protecting against heartworm disease.


Does your dog make any of the noises on this list? We bet he does! Knowing what is normal for your dog can help you spot changes early, so you can ensure he stays healthy and active.

If your dog is making any sounds you don’t recognize, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian to make sure there’s no cause for concern.

Frankie’s Strange Noises

“You better give me something to eat or I’m going to poo in your shoe!!”

With Frankie being a pug, he made a LOT of strange noises. Of course since he had a little nose, there would always be a lot of reverse sneezing. He would get a reverse sneezing spell and walk around bow-legged trying to get to snot down. At first, we were very scared about what was happening, but the veterinarian assured us it was just reverse sneezing.

When Frankie was mad, he would puff out his cheeks with a huff. He was quite mad when you didn’t pay attention to him when he was hungry!

Chloe’s Strange Noises

Chloe likes to groan and moan when she is trying to get into a comfortable spot. Once she finds the perfect spot, she lets out a big sigh.

Chloe also has a very active stomach after she eats. She likes to lay down right after beside me and I can hear all the weird stomach noises! Then she usually lets out a huge burp that makes her lips giggle. After a while, the farting starts!