No pet parent wants to see their dogs in pain or discomfort. However, it is difficult for us dog owners to tell if a dog is in pain.

Instinctively, dogs tend to stay quiet and hide their pain since they can't tell us what they feel.

As their guardian, it is our job to monitor them so we can identify these subtle signs and get them the help they need.

Since dogs can't speak, it is sometimes difficult to recognize when they're suffering.

They can be in pain due to an injury or an underlying health problem, we wouldn't even know.

But with a good understanding of our dog's personalities and a good eye for certain unusual behaviors, we can notice indicators of pain and act on them appropriately.

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How Do I Know If My Dog Is In Pain?

Fortunately, you can look for plenty of signs to know if your dog is experiencing discomfort or pain.

Even though dogs are very good at hiding their ailments, here's a list of indications that your dog is in pain.

These signs can be changes in their behavior, physical symptoms, or mobility issues.

Without further ado, scroll down, and let's dive all the way in!


One of the common signs that are seen in dogs in pain is aggression.

If your dog suddenly starts to growl, pin his ears back, or even bite you, it's because they are worried you'll do something to hurt them.

Animals that are wounded, injured, or in pain, will instinctively go into protection mode.

They will try to stay away from everyone because they are worried that they'll hurt them even more.

Even if it's the friendliest dog, they might bite their owner or best friend if they are in pain.

Monitor your pet if your cuddly dog suddenly becomes aggressive, growls at you, bites you, or tends to snap when you're approaching.

If this happens, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Let's look at it this way. Let's say you have a wound or bruise somewhere in your body.

If someone tries to touch that area or any area where it would hurt, you'd probably unleash the worst version of you on that person.

Dogs Whining for Attention

Vocalization (Whimpering and Whining)

Have you noticed that your dog has been more vocal than usual? Well, dogs in pain tend to be more vocal.

They can express their discomfort through whining, whimpering, yelping, growling, or sometimes, howling.

Hearing your dog whimper or whine is heartbreaking for us dog owners.

Dogs, especially young dogs who have not yet experienced physical pain, can resort to whimper and crying when they feel pain.

If your dog has undergone surgery and is whimpering, ensure that you give them the proper amount of pain medication.

However, keep in mind that a quiet pet doesn't mean they are not in pain.

Some pet owners think that if a dog is not whimpering or whining, their dog is just fine.

Behavioral Changes

Generally, dogs in pain tend to have behavioral changes.

Just like humans, dogs can be crankier than usual when experiencing discomfort.

Below, we've listed a few possible changes in a dog's behavior when in pain.


Dogs in pain might not be cuddly as usual. They might stop running and greet you at the door when you get home.

They'll also try to avoid contact with you. There's also a chance that they won't let you pet them.

If ever you've noticed that your pup is hiding from you and avoiding interactions, this can mean that they're in pain.

Seeking Affection

Not all dogs that are experiencing pain avoid interactions. Some dogs, when in pain, tend to be more affectionate.

They'll be all over you and seeking attention and affection constantly.

If you think that your dog is being extra clingy or over-friendly, this can mean that they are asking for help because they're in pain.

Changes in Sleeping Habits

Is your dog sleeping longer than usual? This can be a sign that they are in pain.

Sleeping can be their body's way of trying to heal. But it can also be because they have trouble moving around and being active.

Dogs in pain can also exhibit restlessness. Dogs in pain can have a hard time being comfortable.

Monitor your pet. If you see them having a hard time sitting, lying down, or lying in an unusual position, these are signs that they are in distress.

For instance, dogs will lie down, but they immediately get up and move around to find a more comfortable position.

Changes in Drinking and Eating Habits

Since dogs in pain tend to sleep more because it's hard for them to move around, the next sign that you should look into is if they change their drinking and eating habits.

Loss of appetite is a common symptom when it comes to pain in dogs.

Physical Signs and Changes

When a dog is experiencing pain, you can also notice it from physical changes or symptoms.

You'll notice it from the way that they carry their body.

Abnormal Postures

Notice that your dog is holding their head below their shoulders or is it a bit hunched or rigid?

Maybe there's a change in how they walk? These changes can be signs that your pup is experiencing pain.

If ever you've noticed that your dog's general movement has changed, it is best advised to contact your vet for further explanation.

Abnormal Panting in Dogs


Has your dog been panting or having difficulty breathing? Do their breaths seem faster or shallower?

Panting can mean many things, including pain, heatstroke, or poisoning. It can also be a symptom of pancreatitis.

Excessive Licking

When a dog is hurt, its first instinct is to clean and lick the area of the wound.

But it doesn't necessarily have to be a wound. Some pains can be internal and the dog will still lick the area thinking it'll heal it.

For instance, if a dog keeps licking its legs, this can be a sign of arthritis. Of course, these are all still speculations.

The best thing you can do is consult with your vet for them to examine your pup for the right diagnosis.

If you think that your senior dog is becoming arthritic, your vet will have to run some blood work and take radiographs to ensure your dog's condition.

Shaking or Trembling

Trembling or shivering can be caused by multiple reasons. Some dogs shiver because of sudden temperature changes.

Others tremble because of thunder or fireworks. And some because of some underlying sickness.

Trembling is a common symptom for dogs that have kidney diseases, arthritis, distemper, or physical trauma.

But these illnesses are often accompanied by other signs like diarrhea, vomiting, and limping.


Dogs that are experiencing eye pain tend to tear up, squint, or blink more often than usual.

There are lots of different eye problems in dogs and all of them have different levels of pain and discomfort.

A few examples are Cataracts, Glaucoma, Conjunctivitis, Cherry Eye, and more.

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How to Help a Dog in Pain

Consult with your Vet

The first thing you'd want to do if your pup is exhibiting any of the above symptoms and you think that they are in pain is to seek veterinary guidance and treatment immediately.

It's not recommended to just search the internet for possible answers.

It is also not advised to give them medication when you still don't have the right cause of their discomfort.

Taking them to the vet will help you figure out what the real problem is and why your dog is acting differently.

The vet will perform numerous diagnostic tests to identify the right issue.

For instance, your dog might undergo X-Rays, blood tests, or ultrasounds.

Ask Questions for Possible Treatment Options

From here, you can ask the vet for your dog's treatment options.

If you're a new pet owner and don't know what to ask, here are a few questions that you can use:

  • What treatment can we do to help with my dog's pain?
  • Are there supplements that can help reduce their pain?
  • What post-surgery pain medication will I need?
  • What home adjustments can I do to help a dog feel relaxed and comfortable?
  • Are there any other things I can do to help relieve their pain?

Treatment Options for Dogs in Pain

There are plenty of treatment options to eliminate or relieve pain in dogs.

It's important to first consult with your vet so that the proper treatment option is given.

A few examples of the most common treatments for pain are:

  • Medication (NSAIDs)
  • Supplements
  • Herbal Therapies
  • Surgery
  • Laser Therapy
  • Physical Rehabilitation

Keep Track of the Symptoms that They are Exhibiting

Keeping a record of the symptoms that you see in your pup can go a long way.

Sometimes, our dog will show a specific symptom, but once you get to the vet, everything seems fine.

Next time, try and take photos or videos of your pet when they are exhibiting signs of pain.

For instance, record them when they are limping around or having an unusual posture.

Showing this to your vet can help them further understand the possible health issue that your dog is experiencing.

With these records, they can help you make proper adjustments to your routine to help relieve discomfort.

signs of pain in dogs

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I comfort a dog in pain?

There are plenty of ways to comfort a dog in pain.

For instance, you can relieve stress by keeping your dog as comfortable as possible.

How? You can make their bed extra soft with soft blankets and pillows.

Surround them with your dog's favorite toys or give them their favorite dog food or dog treats.

However, always remember to give your dog a well-balanced diet to keep them healthy.

One of the most simple ways to comfort your dog is just to be there for them.

Keep them company. Your presence can help soothe the pain or discomfort that they are feeling.

Can I give my dog ibuprofen for pain?

No. You should NOT give ibuprofen to your dog or cats under any circumstances.

Always remember that you should not attempt to give your pets human painkillers. What is safe for humans can be deadly to pets.

Ibuprofen and Naproxen (common painkillers for humans) can be toxic to dogs. It can damage their kidneys and stomach quickly.

Can I give my dog Benadryl for pain?

Yes, only if the cause of your dog's pain is an allergic reaction.

Veterinarians often use Benadryl when a dog is experiencing a minor allergic reaction.

This antihistamine is recommended to be administered to your dog as 2-4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight or 0.9-1.8 milligrams (mg) of Benadryl per pound.

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How To Tell If A Dog Is In Pain: Summary

Dogs can't tell us directly that they are hurting. Some dogs even hide and stay quiet when they feel pain.

And this makes it hard how to tell if a dog is in pain.

As pet owners, it's hard for us to see our dog suffering and it's our job to look out for them.

Since it's hard to know how to tell if your dog is in pain, we've compiled a list of symptoms or signs above on what you should look into when you suspect that they are hurting.

For example, dogs in pain can sometimes be more vocal. They'll begin to whimper or whine at you because they are experiencing discomfort.

Some dogs tend to be aggressive or go into protection mode when in pain.

When this time comes, be patient. They are only like this because they are hurting.

You can also notice discomfort from the way they walk or if they have an unusual posture.

Moreover, their daily routine might change. They might become restless since they are having a hard time relaxing because of the pain.

However, some dogs might sleep more often than usual as it is their way of trying to heal their body.

If you're seeing the signs that were listed above, it is best to contact your vet instantly.

Only your vet can provide the right answers as to why your dog is hurting.

And as soon as they've got the right diagnosis, the faster they'll be able to treat your pup.


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.