How to tell if your dog is in pain

How to tell if your dog is in pain

By: American Animal Hospital Association

Dogs feel pain for many of the same reasons as humans: infections, dental problems, arthritis, bone disease, and cancer. They also feel discomfort following surgical procedures.

Unfortunately, unlike humans, they are unable to speak to us about when and where they hurt. If your dog shows one or more of these behaviors and suspect it may be due to pain, notify your veterinarian immediately.


  • Whining
  • Howling
  • Whimpering
  • Yelping
  • Groaning
  • Grunting

Daily Habits

  • Licking
  • Biting
  • Scratching a particular part of its body

Activity Level

  • Restless
  • Reluctant to move
  • Difficulty getting up from a lying position
  • Repetitively gets up and lies down
  • Trembling, circling or lying very still
  • Seeks more affection than usual

Facial Expression

  • Grimaces, vacant stare
  • Glazed, wide-eyed or looks sleepy
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Flattened ears
  • Pants excessively when at rest


  • Coat lacks normal shine
  • Hair stands up in places


  • Protects a body part
  • Doesn’t put weight on a limb
  • Limps
  • Doesn’t want to be held or picked up
  • Hides


  • Acts out of character
  • Growls, hisses, bites
  • Pins ears back
  • A normally aggressive dog may act quiet, docile.


  • Hunched, with hindquarters raised and front end down on the ground
  • Lays on its side

Stay tuned, you are in the best position to look for the subtle changes in behavior that may indicate your pet is suffering. It’s important to stay alert to these signs, because the sooner your dog’s pain is diagnosed and treated, the sooner he or she can heal and resume normal happy life.