There are few things as unpleasant as being unable to help those you love. This can easily be made much worse when your loved one is unable to communicate specifics with you. As pet owners, all we wish for is the happiness and comfort of our four-legged friends. When your dog has undergone a serious medical procedure, or appears to be in massive amounts of pain, it can have us tearing our hair out in desperation as we search for ways to ease their suffering. We completely understand and have put together a guide to dealing with dog pain, below, in the hopes of easing both your anguish and their pain.
How Do I know if My Dog is in Pain?
It’s as difficult to pinpoint the cause of your dog’s changing nature in the same way that we can’t measure precisely what the specific cause of our pain is without medical intervention and guidance. We have scoured the internet to come up with a relatively comprehensive list of symptoms of dog pain- that said, do contact your vet if you are ever concerned about your pet’s behaviour or have concerns regarding your dog’s symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of a Dog in Pain
You’ll know if your dog’s energy level changes drastically. Since we know our dog’s and how energetic they can usually be, it’s not hard to notice when they become more lethargic and generally very concerning. They might still want to play but be a little slower, or choose to sleep in, rather than wake you in the morning to start their daily routines.
It’s generally pretty common knowledge that a dog will hold their tail high when they are happy and alert. Therefore, it makes sense that when a dog is sad or in pain, their tail will drop- even to the point that they are unwilling or unable to wag their tail in their usual manner. This is one of the common signs of pain in dogs and should be treated very seriously. If you aren’t able to see a reason as to why they are unwilling to wag their tail, you should take them to the vets immediately.
Dogs will bite themselves when they become stressed in the same way that we see some humans pulling at their hair or self-harming in other ways (such as smoking). They are also much more likely to become snappy toward others whereas they are usually much more placid. If you’ve noticed your dog becoming nippy and biting for no apparent reason, it’s likely that the reason could be due to their being in pain.
Your dog may no longer rush to greet you, become lazy or just plain trying to hide. Dog’s don’t like to be in pain, naturally, but their instinct is to leave and be away from others when they are struggling. If you’ve noticed your dog trying to stay out of sight, it could be that they are in pain and want to be left alone. If you’re aware of the reasons why they might be in pain, it’s a good idea to let them be. Meanwhile, if you aren’t sure of the reasons why, you should take them to the vets to rule out anything sinister.
- Habitual changes
Eating, sleeping, drinking and routines. Both humans and dogs are creatures of habit- habits which get knocked out of whack when we’re feeling a little off. With dog’s being very much food-oriented, it’s not hard to see when they’re struggling with pain in some form or other, when they begin to turn their nose up at their dinner. Likewise, a dog in pain may struggle to sleep, or sleep more than usual. They may also be drinking more, or not at all which can indicate further problems beyond the initial discomfort, and they may no longer be interested in taking walks with their favourite people or lying alongside you on the couch.
A dog in pain will likely move in a way that is unfamiliar to yourself. There’s a myriad of ways that this can manifest, including everything from limps to refusal to move from their bed space. If you’ve noticed some odd movements in your pet, it’s time to take a deeper look into what might be causing the unusual gait.
Similarly, you might notice that your dog is pacing a lot more than usual, or even shivering. These can be very disturbing signs that show an escalation or pain or the problem itself. If you see these, call your vet and have your pup checked over as soon as possible.
All of these are indicative of issues and tell-tale signs that your pup is in agony, and it may be time to ask your vet to review your medicines or see if you can find complimentary therapies to help in their healing. Naturally, if you see a sudden change in your dog or are particularly concerned, ring your vet and request to be seen immediately. Since dog’s are unlikely to show when they are in pain in the same way as humans, it can be hard to distinguish what is a symptom and what is more serious and, as such, you should always request professional help in moments like these.
Can I Give My Dog Paracetamol?
Both ibuprofen and paracetamol can become toxic for dogs. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you never give your dog medication that has been intended for human consumption. If you are concerned that your dog is in pain, it is imperative that you speak with your local vet to discuss the best course of action, to help heal your pet as soon as possible, with as few side-effects as possible.
When to Give Your Dog Something for Pain
The simplest answer here is to give your dog something for pain when it has been advised. If you feel that the medication isn’t enough to help your dog with pain, then have a chat with your vet about using some therapies alongside their medication or to assist with the pain relief once your dog has been weaned off their prescription. Feel free to read some of the alternatives below and discuss these with your vet- it could be that they are contradictory to your pup’s plan, so it’s important to get the go-ahead before deciding on using any alternative medicines.
Dog Medications for Pain
Medications should only be given on the advice of, or prescription from, a vet. It is a very bad idea to give painkillers to a dog without knowing the correct dosage for your dog’s size and metabolism.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed by vets to help your dog with pain, swelling, stiffness, joint pain and inflammation. It’s most commonly prescribed following surgical procedures and for arthritis. That said, if your dog suffers from certain organ problems, such as kidney or liver issues,
Aspirin can be used for short-term pain, though only on the advice on a vet. This is because the long-term side-effects of aspirin include the damage of liver, kidneys and cause ulcers and inflammation. Unfortunately, it is one of the most common forms of poisoning in dogs and, since it has never been cleared for veterinary use, there are no clear dosages available, making administration much more difficult. Due to this, it is one of the rarest medications suggested for dog usage.
This is prescribed by vets for use in combatting chronic pain in dogs. It’s most likely to be prescribed for dogs with arthritis and similar illnesses. Common side effects include becoming sleepier and more lethargic, and ataxia (involuntary muscle movements).
Tramadol is used for mild, severe and chronic pain and is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for dogs. It may take a little while for the pills to work, so don’t be disheartened if your dog doesn’t brighten-up straight away. You might notice your dog suffer from a some slight tremors and heightened anxiety, but do speak to your vet if you’re becoming concerned about these.
- Natural and alternative remedies for dog pain
It’s not always possible for us to help our dogs with medications, or even that the prescribed meds help as much as we’d like them to. In this case, it’s possible to use various remedies to compliment your dog’s healing process with these natural remedies. Do ask your vet before beginning any new course of treatment, to ensure there is no contradictory or poor side-effects to their medications.
- Herbs and supplements
There are a considerable number of herbs and traditional spices that can be bought online to make up some more specific treatments. As an example, Feverfew can be made into a tea and enjoyed by dogs and cats alike to help alleviate inflammation and arthritis. Meanwhile, even liquorice can be given to your pet to work as an anti-inflammatory- if your dog will take it, that is!
Cannabinoid oils are becoming the next Big Thing, and it’s easy to see why. CBD oil works for a number of illnesses and has been shown to help alleviate the amount of pain your dog feels- though we are still unsure as to whether this is down to the CBD dulling the sensors that receive the pain signal or the pain itself. Either way, not only will CBD oil help with the pain but also help your pup to sleep through and hold fewer side-effects to their medications.
A good diet and great nutrition will often help prevent most of the causes of pain in your dog. If you’re not sure about the best food for your dog, have a chat with your vet, since each breed, size and metabolism requires a different doggy-diet. It’s also important for your pup to receive adequate exercise, which will help keep his or her joints healthy, their muscles supple and their minds sharp.
As well as this, it’s possible that regular massages, hydrotherapy with a qualified practitioner and even acupuncture can be a huge benefit to any dog that suffers with chronic pain. Take a look online to source the best prices and most experienced person available in your area. There are also some newer treatments becoming available to the general public, including cold laser treatments, which improves blood circulation and stimulates cell regeneration, improving the root of the cause of your dog’s pain.
It can be hard to hear but sometimes the best course of action is to do absolutely nothing. Interfering with your dog while they are undergoing their natural healing process can mean that your dog takes longer to get better and could even have some long-lasting effects that are exacerbated by your need to care- rather ironic, but it seems that there is such a thing as being cruel to be kind. It can really help your dog to back off a little and simply give a few loves and cuddles when they’re requested. If you’re worried about any signs your dog is showing that you’re either not expecting or seem worse than you think they should be, head back to your vet and have a chat about your next steps, asking them if it is worth trying some of the alternative methods mentioned above.