Guest Blog by Dr. James Gaynor:
Is it hard to tell if your dog hurts? Sometimes. A limping dog or a dog not using the leg may be obvious. Dogs do not bear full weight on a leg for 1 of 3 reasons: 1- it hurts; 2- it is unstable (maybe from a fracture); 3- it has neurologic problems (this may be more likely to be seen as dragging rather than limping). The problem is that dogs may hurt in many more places than just their legs. The key to recognizing pain is to realize that any CHANGE in your dog’s BEHAVIOR may indicate a painful condition like arthritis caused by hip or elbow dysplasia.
Here are some examples:
A friendly dog who now is grouchy with kids or at the dog park may have some significant pain. She may be protective to try to keep herself from hurting. A dog who no longer jumps in the car or goes up stairs my have rear limb, hip or back pain. A dog who does not want to go down stairs may have front limb or neck pain.
Don’t expect your dog to cry or whimper when in pain. Vocalization can mean many things. It may also be one of the last signs a dog shows when painful. This is no surprise. Most of us do not cry or whimper when we hurt, even when hit by cars. We just change how we act to try to lessen the pain.
If you think your dog might hurt, take him to your veterinarian for a COMPLETE physical examination. It might be pain from arthritis or many other causes.
There are so many treatment options after determining the problem, but you need the diagnosis first. For more information, see my website at http://www.nopetpain.com.
James S. Gaynor, DVM, MS
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists Diplomate,
American Academy of Pain Management Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist