Understanding How Dogs Feel Pain

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Here is what you should know when it comes to dogs and pain. Read on to see how it affects them and how you can help.

Did you know that even today, dogs have a legacy from their evolutionary origins as hunting predators? This can be seen in the most random situation.

For example, dogs are excellent when it comes to hiding pain. Why do they do that? This may surprise you, but there is actually a simple reason why they practice this.

In the wild, an injured or infirm animal is vulnerable to attack, and there is a survival advantage to act like nothing is wrong even when something most definitely is. Today, dogs behave in the same manner.

They choose to hide or better suppress many of the most obvious signals of pain or injury.

In only rare situations, you will actually hear dog screaming due to the pain of injury. When and if this happens, you hear dog screaming know that it is something serious, and you should immediately contact your veterinarian.

Dogs can suppress many of the more obvious signals of pain and injury to protect themselves and their social standing in their pack. They want to control the situation and their life so that they will hide their pain.

Dogs evolved over the years, that much that even their brain changed, but some of the old habits remained even today.

Still, many wonder how sensitive dogs really are and how strong or weak they are when it comes to pain. Let’s discover.

The Perception of Pain in Dogs

For many years, humans strongly believed that dogs could not understand pain on the same level as humans. Or that they feel any pain at all.

After surgeries, dogs would be sent home with no pain medication – all because people believed that they aren’t feeling pain. That was all because they still weren’t experts at dogs’ psychology and needs.

Luckily, it has changed over the years, and it was proven that dogs can feel pain.

Various studies showed that dogs who weren’t given pain medication experienced a more serious level of aggression. The reason for that destructive behavior was intense pain.

Nowadays, veterinarians know and understand that dogs experience pain, even if they can’t tell us that they are in pain, not in a way that humans express pain.

The Science Behind Dogs Feeling Pain

Humans still have to learn a lot when it comes to dogs. There is still a long way to determine if dogs experience the pain as we do, or how they are experiencing it anyway.

It’s obvious that they can feel it to some extent because they can react to it. This means that it’s clear that dogs have nerves in their bodies that let their brains know there is a problem after an injury has occurred.

Dogs, just like most mammals, seem to feel pain in a very similar way to us. Their bodies respond to damage in the same way that ours do, and they even heal similarly.

Interestingly, they seem to be more robust than us. You already know that dogs are just amazing when it comes to non-verbal communication. They are experts in understanding humans by merely watching their movements.

Sometimes, they can know before we do that if we are in pain and that something bothers us.

Dogs are capable of showing us merely by using the body language that something bothers them.

So, always watch how your dog acts toward you. If you, and when you notice something shady, you should contact your veterinarian.

Evident and Subtle Signs of Pain in Dogs

How can you tell a dog is in pain? When a dog is in pain, you will hear him. Dogs will always turn to vocalization to show you that something bothers them when they are ready to show you that you should check them.

Do you know that sound when you accidentally step on a dog’s toe? That’s a mild sound compared to the sound of bigger pain.

The sound of stepping into a dog’s toe is acute, meaning that it will last briefly, contrary to the chronic and long-lasting pain observed in dogs with arthritis. Bear in mind that dogs can manifest pain also in more subtle ways.

It’s easy with humans to know how much they are in pain, but it’s all about guessing with dogs.

One of the most common and apparent signs that’s something wrong with your canine is lack of interest in food and war, next to diarrhea.

Here are the top ten ways dogs show pain:

Good to know: Always monitor your dog closely as soon as you notice any behavioral changes as it may an indicator of mental issues

Handling Your Dog’s Pain

Dogs are intelligent beings. They are easily trained if you seriously address the training process and invest your time in building a well-behaved dog.

However, when it comes to dealing with pain, there is no magical training trick. It’s just not possible.

When it comes to pain, no one can be trained on how to handle it. Pain is pain. It’s usually scary for humans and dogs to experience pain, and not have the power to do anything about it.

When your dog is dealing with pain, it’s your job to know how to address it, meaning how to handle it.

You need to train yourself on how to help your furry friend.

After you welcome a dog into your home, you will learn different personality treats and understand how your dog feels over time. If your dog starts acting strangely, you will know it.

Teach your dog how to be OK with different body examine. You can start from his puppy days, and make him comfortable with ears cleaning, and general grooming.

From that moment on, your canine will be okay with checking on his different body parts.

You can do this by using repetition and treats as positive reinforcement. This will let them know it is a good and safe thing to allow you to check their bodies out for any harm.

This way, they will be more than used to you doing this quick check-up. In case of an emergency, dogs won’t have any issue with you checking their body.

Plus, they love being rubbed, so if your dog shows you his belly, make sure that you pet that area for a few minutes.

As long as you provide your dog with a happy and stress-free environment, your dog will feel safe coming to you when he is in pain. This also means that you should be as gently as possible.

Until you know where the injury is located and the extent of the damage, be extra-careful as you check over each body part.

Safety Tips for Helping a Dog in Pain

  • If you see that your dog reacts to don’t come close
  • aggressively

  • If your dog shows obvious signs of fear, wait a few minutes to calm down, to talk to him in a baby voice to calm him down faster
  • If you are sure that your dog is experiencing a high amount of pain, take him immediately to a veterinarian
  • Don’t apply any home remedies without consulting veterinarian first
  • Follow all direction provided by the veterinarian

The Bottom Line

Dogs are sensitive beings. They love simple things and enjoy simple actions, such as walk on a sunny day.

Dogs love nothing like good food, spending time outdoors, and spending time with their human family.

With time, dogs and humans bonded a lot. Moreover, each dog in a family very fast becomes one of the most precious family members.

Sometimes people forget that dogs are animals and that they don’t speak human. Therefore, it’s important to watch your dog and learn his body language, as much as he knows yours.

It’s in a dog’s nature to keep the pain away and stay silent – they want to be safe, and body weakness in the wild is a big deal that costs them their lives. Still, when your dog is in pain, he will come to you.

You don’t have to wait to hear him crying, because you can recognize distress in a dog if you are just watching close enough.

Anything from yelping, over shivering, up to hiding can be a sign of trouble in dogs, which is why you should always monitor your dog closely.

Whenever you think that something is wrong with your dog, take him to your veterinarian.