What Are the Common Signs of a Dog in Pain?

You should watch for signs if you think your dog is in pain. Your pup may be having trauma due to an injury. They could be struggling to tell you they hurt, by demonstrating certain behaviors. Dogs sometimes hide their pain, but there are ways to know if they are uncomfortable.

Sometimes there are changes in your dog’s sleeping pattern, they could be limping or favoring one side, or their posture may appear different or abnormal. Your typically energetic pup could be experiencing a nosedive in their energy and their typical infectious vigor.

signs of a dog in pain

It would be best to be mindful of the common symptoms of pain in dogs. If you see the signs mentioned in this article, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Read along to find out the symptoms of a dog in pain.

What Are the Signs of a Dog in Pain?

Dogs have pain just like us humans. However, they communicate it differently than we do. Your dog may not be able to tell you what is going on, but there are some signs you should watch out for. Some of the symptoms include the following:

Sleep Changes 

When dogs are in pain, they may sleep more due to their lack of desire to move their achy joints. Sometimes they may not sleep as much because it causes them extreme discomfort to lie down. They may also have disturbances in their sleep patterns.

Inactivity during sleep can also cause pressure in the joints. If your dog is in pain, they may shift themselves around often during the night to get comfortable, but they cannot seem to lie still or find a comfortable position.

Reduced Appetite or Drinking

If your dog’s pain is related to dental disease, they may not want to eat or drink. They may be having the following problems:

  • Broken tooth
  • Loose tooth
  • Gingivitis
  • Oral tumor

Your pup may only be interested in soft food but not eat their dry food. Typically, oral pain results from plaque accumulation on your dog’s teeth and gums.


If your dog is getting older, they may have more joint or muscle pain. It can cause them to be restless at night and unable to stop getting up, walking around, and then trying to lie back down in a different spot to find a comfortable position.

As mentioned previously, sleep may be uncomfortable for your dog at this point. Your pup may also get restless during the day if they become anxious due to their pain.

Your Dog May Not Want to Be Picked Up or Held

Your dog might not want to be picked up or held when they are in pain. They might not feel safe when you pick them up because the pain could intensify if they are handled improperly. Also, it could be that the way you pick them up is causing them pain.

You should always pick your dog up as gently as possible. Also, if you need to pick them up, use both hands to do so. If it is painful for them, they will let you know by yelping. Always be careful when handling your dog.

Limping or Favoring One Side

A plethora of injuries and illnesses can cause limping in dogs. Some of the common reasons why your dog is limping include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Muscle strains
  • Joint dislocation
  • Paw pad trouble
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Embedded foreign material
  • Torn nails

You must also consider that if your dog has been exercising more than they are used to, this could cause limping in your dog.

If your dog has a mild limp, it can be difficult to tell which leg they favor. Your pup will want to take the weight off the leg that is causing them the most pain.

Not Wanting to Jump Up Anymore

If your dog feels pain from arthritis, you may notice that they do not want to jump on the bed with you or jump up in the car anymore. As your pup ages, the cartilage in their joints breaks down. Since the cartilage provides a cushion for the joints, it can trigger a lot of pain when it breaks down.

Trauma to the back, legs, or hips can cause your dog not to want to jump. It may also be painful for them to move and stretch. Back issues can also cause your dog not to want to jump or move. A common condition in dogs that causes back pain is intervertebral disc disease.

Labored Breathing

Labored breathing can be a sign that your dog is in pain. Arthritis is prevalent in older dogs, and panting is how they express themselves. If your pup is demonstrating trouble breathing, it could be due to an injury.

If you observe that your pup is breathing heavily, they may have other signs that they are in pain. This behavior includes a reluctance to lie down and licking at the pain site. If you see these signs in your dog, take your pup to the vet right away.

Abnormal Posture

If your dog is lying on one side more than usual, they may be uncomfortable or in pain. Your pup may also be hunched over and has an arched back. They may also have their rear raised, and their head is hanging low. These are both significant signs of pain.

Depending on the type, location, and severity of pain, your pup may lie around more. Your puppy may also have their tail tucked or dropped when it is typically happy and wagging. Mobility issues can reveal a sign of arthritis.

What Are Some Painful Conditions for Dogs?

Your dog could be in pain for several reasons. However, it could be a sign of something more serious. Take your canine to the vet, as it is better to be safe than sorry. Some painful conditions include:

  • Arthritis
  • Crucial ligament damage
  • Periodontal disease
  • Gastritis
  • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Cancer

All the above can be possible, but do not panic. It may just be that your dog is experiencing pain due to an injury or old age.

Keep an Eye Out for Signs That Your Dog Is in Pain

There are several signs that your canine companion could be experiencing pain. If you see any of these signs, get them to the vet as soon as possible.

At Antioch Veterinary Hospital, we’re here for all your veterinary needs. If you’re ever concerned about your pet’s health and well-being, don’t hesitate to give us a call.