Is my dog in pain?

This list is a good starting point to learn to recognise signs of pain, but there are many other signs too. 


If you are in doubt about any changes in your dogs behaviour or normal routine, call a vet, day or night, and get some advice.



1) Limping: This may sound obvious, but a low grade lameness can easily go unnoticed. Observing your dog from a distance can help, if in doubt, come in and ask one of our vets or nurses.


2) Reluctance to run/jump/play: this could be the result of pain anywhere in the body


3) Struggling to settle: not being able to get comfortable; getting up, circling, lying down, getting up again etc

4) Pressing head against a wall: often posted on the Internet as dogs being funny/strange, this is actually a sign of disease; get them to a vet asap


5) Barking or other vocalisation

6) Aggression, including snapping, growling or biting


7) Rapid breathing: look at how quickly the rib cage (chest) is moving in and out when your dog is resting. Call your vet if you count the chest rising up more than 35 times in a minute


8) Heart rate: harder to detect, but placing your hand on your dogs chest and counting more than 140 (large breed dog) 150 (medium breed) 160 beats (small breed) in a minute at rest, should alert you to possible pain


9) Arched back or front legs down in a ‘praying position’ may indicate abdominal discomfort


10) Tailheld down and not wagging

11) Reduced eating and/or drinking,dogs often lose interest in food and drink when in pain

12) Constipation or difficulty passing urine 


13) Eyes: closed eyelids, small/large pupils, blood shot whites of the eyes, all may indicate pain either in the eye(s) or elsewhere in the body


14) Swellings anywhereon the body are highly likely to be causing pain, there are exceptions such as fatty lumps, but in general, a swelling will be painful 


15) Large tummy/abdomen: will be painful and should always be investigated urgently it could be due to a potentially fatal condition called Bloat.