Is My Dog in Pain? 16 Signs of Dog Pain for Lake Zurich Pet Owners

Animals in the wild are excellent at hiding any sign they’re in pain. This is because it hints at weakness, which may make them a target for predators or even members of their own species. Even though our modern dog breeds are far removed from their wild ancestors, they still tend to keep their pain and discomfort a well-hidden secret.

In this article, we’ll go over 16 common signs that your dog might be in pain.

Sad Dog Laying on Floor

Signs to Look For That Might Indicate Your Dog is in Pain

It can be difficult to tell when your pup has hurt themselves, but there are some visible signs if you know what to look for.

Eating and Drinking Less

If your dog is hurting, he is less likely to want to eat or drink. This could be because he has an upset tummy or just doesn’t want to get up to eat.

Because of the reluctance to eat or drink while in pain, make sure you have food and fresh water within reach of your dog’s resting place and try to entice him with savory snacks and lots of encouragement.

Change in Sleeping Habits

You may notice your dog is sleeping more than usual if he’s sick or in pain.


Conversely, it’s possible your dog is having difficulty sleeping because she can’t find a comfortable arrangement. You may see her lay down, then get up and move around, even changing spots, before laying back down.

This may go on for a while before she finally finds a position that doesn’t cause her any pain.


If your dog is in pain, he may not greet you when you come home or bother you for a morsel of your meal like he usually does. Again, this is because of his instinctual need to hide any sign of weakness from potential predators.


A hurt dog can be a grumpy dog, and you might find Fido is growling or snarling more often at anything and everything that could potentially make the pain worse or cause further injury.

This could be an issue for dog owners who have small children, cats or other dogs in the home, as it’s less likely they’ll be aware of the hurt dog’s attitude. If you notice your dog being abnormally aggressive, you should keep him away from other pets and children.


Some panting in a dog is normal, especially after exercise or in the hotter months of the year. But if you find her panting heavily even when she’s not been active, it could be a sign she is in pain.

Shortness of Breath

If you notice your dog taking shallow breaths, particularly in addition to intermittent panting, he is likely hurting. Any unexplained change in your dog’s respiratory rate is cause for concern and should be addressed with your veterinary clinic.

Unusual Vocalization

Whimpering, groaning, growling or whining are your dog’s way of showing she doesn’t feel right. This may pick up if you or someone else gets closer to your dog or tries to touch her.

Excessive Grooming

Constant licking of the paws could be your dog’s way of trying to soothe himself. His natural instinct to relieve pain is to try to clean the hurt area, even if the pain is internal.


This is one of the most surefire ways to tell that your dog is hurt. Unfortunately, limping or favoring one leg may not mean your dog has a hurt paw. Back pain and neurological issues can also cause a limp or unusual gate in your dog.


If you notice your dog stepping more gingerly, or having trouble moving quickly, it could be a sign of joint pain, dysplasia or arthritis.

Change in Posture

Your dog may hold herself differently than she usually does if she’s uncomfortable. You may see her laying in a way abnormal to her, holding her head at an odd angle, or a difference in how she moves and stands.

Shaking or Shivering

Severe pain may lead to involuntary shaking or shivering. If you notice your dog doing either of these things and there’s no external factor to explain it – such as cold temperature – you should get him to the veterinarian.

Avoiding Touch

Your dog probably won’t want to be pet or patted when he’s hurting. His instinct is to prevent further injury and even though he trusts you, he can’t help but shy away from your touch.

Flattened Ears

Typically seen as a sign of aggression, this may not be the case if your dog is in pain. Flattened ears could be an involuntary response to head or ear pain, but you should never try to pet a dog who has her ears flattened, just to be safe.


Your dog isn’t going to be as frisky if he’s in pain. You may see a reluctance to get up for walks or even to go potty outside.

If Your Dog Has These Symptoms Contact Your Vet

From disease to degeneration, infection to injury; there are countless reasons why your dog may be exhibiting any of these symptoms. If you’re seeing these signs in your dog, you should take her to the veterinarian.

Remember to mention every change you’ve seen and explain what your dog’s typical behavior is. Your vet will do a physical examination and potentially order blood work, x-rays or other tests to determine the cause of pain and figure out the best course of treatment for your dog.

Until you can get to the vet, keep your dog isolated from others – preferably in a quiet, dimly lit room – and check on them often.

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About Companion Animal Hospital Lake Zurich

Located just a stone’s throw away from beautiful Lake Zurich, Companion Animal Hospital, formerly Lake Zurich Animal Hospital, has warmly welcomed pets and their families since 1973.