Recognizing Potential Signs of Pain in Your Animal Companion

Because we love our dogs, we may tend to overlook the silent indicators of pain and may write off certain behaviors as “getting old” “having a cranky day” or an “off day”.

Our animal companions are experts at hiding pain and discomfort; a common theory suggests that by reacting to pain by limping or vocalizing it makes the animal easy prey for predators.

Potential signs of pain

  • Changes in Behavior
  • Lack of interest in going for a walk
  • Not getting up on the bed or couch
  • Choosing a quiet spot out of the way to rest
  • Slow to greet you at the door or coming to eat
  • Becoming a bit anti-social around other animals or humans
  • Becoming reactive when an animal or human approach a part of their body (most typically the hind end)
  • Moving their body so that you cannot pet a certain area (hips, back, neck typically)

My own dog Dash is a wild man who loves to run around jump, spin and is always up for an adventure. So, imagine my surprise when I was doing a fascial assessment and found pain and sensitivity in the muscles of his lower back. He presented normal and active to me but in reality, he was experiencing pain.

Many dogs need to settle into the session, they are used to being petted but not “worked on” some massage stroked mimic petting, but others are muscle and deep tissue focused and some dogs need to proceed more slowly, especially if they are experiencing pain. One veterinarian I study under suggests that 53% of all dogs have some degree of silent (hidden) pain.

Any concerns about your animal companion’s health or condition needs to be addressed with your veterinarian. The modalities provided are not a replacement for veterinary care and do not provide diagnosis.

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