Six important warning signs that your dog might be masking pain
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Six important warning signs that your dog might be masking pain

Dogs
Health & Safety

Unlike cats, dogs do not generally try to deliberately mask signs of pain or discomfort, and will often be very vocal about letting you know that something is wrong! However, this does not mean that it is always simple for the dog owner to identify when their dog is suffering from pain or discomfort, both because dog owners might not always recognise the signs that their dog is displaying, and also, because if the pain is minor, the dog might not make enough of a big deal about if for their owner to pick up on it.

However, while this might seem like it is not a major problem if the pain or discomfort is so mild as to not be noticed, even minor, ongoing or repeated pain can indicate something wrong with your dog, which may be either chronic, or worsen over time.

For this reason, it is a good idea to be vigilant about even small or seemingly mild indicators of pain in your dog-although of course, not to the extent that you book them in for a veterinary appointment every time they sleep for ten minutes longer than normal or sneeze!

In this article, we will share six simple warning signs that your dog might be masking pain, and that you should learn to recognise and monitor if you spot them occurring in your own dog. Read on to learn more about six important warning signs that your dog might be masking pain.

Lack of energy

It is totally understandable that your dog will be worn out after a walk or if they have had a particularly busy day, but if your dog appears to be completely puffed out when they have only just got up, this might be indicative of an underlying health issue. If this just happens as a one-off it is highly unlikely to be cause for concern-after all, we are all entitled to the odd duvet day now and then! It is also worth noting that as your dog ages, their energy levels and activity levels will change too, and they will become more laid back and less full of beans-again, however, these age-related changes are distinct from a simple, generalised loss of energy or being tired or reluctant to move all the time, which is a potential sign of a problem.

An intermittent limp

Your dog’s gait is something that you should become familiar with over time, and you will soon learn to be able to pick out your dog’s normal movements from the shortened or otherwise unusual movements that they might display if something is wrong.

If your dog has simply jumped too high and landed a little oddly or jarred their leg, this might lead to a little sensitivity or a slight limp for a day or so, but will usually resolve itself on its own-but if your dog seems to have a constant, low-level limp, or seems to have developed a limp or reluctance to place weight on one leg and this comes and goes but never really goes away, there might be an issue with one of your dog’s limbs, or a spinal or nerve problem that is affecting their soundness in general, and which is worth looking in to.

Diminished appetite

Dogs are usually nothing if not highly enthusiastic about their food, and for a dog, losing their appetite is often one of the clearest and most obvious warning signs that something is amiss! If your dog goes off their food or otherwise shows reluctance to eat normally, a whole host of different problems could be causing this, from dental problems to a simple dislike of what is on offer, to something more serious.

If your dog has a slightly upset stomach and won’t eat for a day or so, providing that they stay hydrated, this is not a major issue-but if your dog will not drink either, or seems to be off their food for more than a day, seek veterinary advice.

Bad breath

It is a common misapprehension made about dogs that their breath is naturally offensive, and in the healthy dog, their breath should definitely not be foul or bad!

Bad breath might seem like a minor or fairly innocuous issue in the dog, but it can indicate a whole host of potential problems that your dog might be suffering from, including dental problems, stomach problems, or even, if their breath smells unusual, certain chronic health conditions such as diabetes.

Behavioural changes

Out-of-character behaviour from your dog is one of the most common and obvious indications that something is up with them, and this is not something that you should ignore. If your dog become snappy, intolerant or otherwise behaves differently towards you and other people than usual, they may be suffering from pain or discomfort, or have something going on that they just can’t tell you about, so contact your vet for advice.

A dull coat

Finally, your dog’s coat texture and condition will change throughout the year, depending on the seasons and whether or not they are moulting. However, if your dog’s coat is chronically dull, losing hairs for no obvious reason or otherwise looks or feels abnormal, this can indicate that something is wrong with your dog that you will not be able to establish without veterinary advice.

Once more, talk to your vet about your dog’s symptoms and your concerns, and let them check your dog out, just to be on the safe side.

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