Pain, while unpleasant, is a useful sensation.
We learn to identify pain, and different pains, as an indicator that something is not right with us.
We then take corrective action, whether it's removing a hand from that hot pan, or removing a stone from a shoe, or seeking professional help and medication for a chronic condition.
Your dog's pain would be equally useful to you if she could speak and tell you what's wrong when she's feeling pain. But she can't. So it's up to you to identify pain and determine its cause.
How? By knowing her normal behavior, body language and vital signs, and noticing when something has changed.
Dogs tend to be less vocal about pain than are we humans. We moan, we groan, and we complain. Dogs tend to suffer quietly, a trait that allowed their ancestors to avoid their predators' attention.
So it's up to you, and your veterinarian, to determine whether your dog is in pain. There are signs and indicators that will help you identify pain in your dog.
The following behavioral responses can indicate that your dog is in pain, particularly acute (sudden onset) pain.
Unusual body language may also indicate pain.
Changes in the vital signs can also indicate pain.
Treatment and Medications
Unless you are certain that the pain is localized and due to a small wound or injury that you can treat with dog first aid, take your dog to the vet or emergency animal clinic.
The veterinarian has been trained to identify pain caused by various illnesses and injuries. She will be able to make a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan for the pain and for its cause.
Do not be a do-it-your-selfer when it comes to relieving your dog's pain with medication. Do not give her a pain medication without first consulting your vet. And never give her human medications.
Some can be toxic to your dog, and all come in stronger doses than your dog needs or can handle. You can end up poisoning her if you give them to her. Use only pet medications, and only on the advice of your vet.
See Household Poisons for more on keeping your medications, and her medications, out of your dog's reach.
While being able to identify pain may not save your dog's life, it will relieve her of needless suffering. Use these signs to reduce her pain.
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