What Should You Do If Your Dog Is In Pain?

What to do if your dog is in pain

"None of us wants to see our dogs suffer needlessly when they are in pain. What you choose to do could adversely effect your dogs health forever. "

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None of us wants our dog to suffer needlessly. But knowing what to do if your dog is in pain is important for any dog parent.

As tempting as it might be to grab an OTC (over-the-counter) medication like asprin, Tylenol or even ibuprofen, warns Jennifer Coates, DVM, you should avoid them no matter what.

Human meds can be extremely dangerous when used incorrectly with your dog.

These OTC pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are known as NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, which inhibit inflammation and pain.

NSAID’s also reduce what are known as PROSTAGLANDINS in the body, which regualte blood flow to the kidneys, help in the production of the mucus layer lining the gastrointestinal tract, and aid in blood clotting.

In dogs, when these funtions are reduced, it can be fatal.

Tylenol, though not an NSAID, is what is known as Acetaminophen.

Tylenol will destroy a dogs liver cells, and possibly result in kidney failure and tissue damage throughout the body.

How do I know my dog is in pain?

We all like to think that we can communicate with our dogs better than we actually can. But the reality is that often times, it is difficult to know if your dog is in pain.

Some dogs tend to mask their symptoms of pain more than others, making it quite hard to know if they are in pain or how much.

Some symptoms are easier to note than others; for instance, if your dog hurts a paw or one of it’s legs, limping will be a sure sign of pain and injury. Other injuries or signs of pain may be more subtle however.  Just like humans, each dog has it’s own pain tolerance levels. But unlike humans, they can’t tell us how they feel so it’s up to you to recognize the signs:

- Vocalization

Whining and whimpering are clear signs your dog is in pain, but there can be other, more subtle changes as well.

If your dog is normally vocal and suddenly becomes quieter, this could be an indication of pain. And the reverse can be true. A normally quiet dog suddenly starting to bark, howl or whine can be another indicator. Pay attention to changes in volume and tone.

Examining your dogs body carefully and listening for whining or whimpering can help you pinpoint the area of the injury if it is at the surface of the body.

- Appetite

A sudden decrease in appetite or not drinking water can be a pain indicator. If you notice your dog not eating it's normal amount of food for more than a day or so, it is probably time to get them to the vet for an examination.

- Biting, Snapping or Growling

Any dog in pain is more likely to bite, snap or growl at you as a protective measure. This is especially true if you touch the affected area. Dogs will have a natural tendency to protect the injured part of their body and may lash out with a growl or snap, even at their parents or family members.

- Movement

Changes in movement of your dog can be a sure sign of pain or injury. If you see your dog limping, it is typically clear that they are injured and in pain.

Sometimes though, the symptoms can be less obvious. A sudden decrease in the amount your dog moves around or the speed at which they do it can be and indication of pain. In this case, carefully monitor your dog for a period of time, and if in doubt, take them to a professional to get checked.

- Heart Rate

Another sign can be an increase in your dog's heart rate. While this can often be difficult to notice, it can also be a key indicator of pain. If you are unsure of how to check your dog's pulse, take a minute to watch the video below.

- Breathing

Dogs in pain can often show changes in their breathing patterns. Faster and more shallow breathing than usual can very often be a sign that your dog is in pain or somehow not feeling well. Take your loved one to a veterinarian if you see these symptoms persisting for more than a short period of time.

What to do if your dog is in pain

You need to get in touch with your Vet, and only use what is prescribed by them. There are specific pain meds that have been developed to be more effective, as well as less dangerous, than the OTC pain meds designed for humans.

With the knowledge of your dog’s health history, your vet can design a pain-reduction plan that is appropriate for your dog, which will make things as safe as possible.

You also need to be aware that not all pain your dog might be experiencing will need to be treated with Meds. Arthritis, which often affects dogs to a great degree as they age, can be treated with a change in diet.

Dog foods supplemented with OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS can reduce pain and joint inflammation.

Foods with less calories, but regular amount of protein, can help your dog lose weight, which can decrease the stress on his joints.

You need to talk with your Vet to determine the right combination of medications, diet, treatments and changes in exercise regimen that will be most appropriate for your dogs condition.

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