How To Tell If Your Dog Is In Pain

You know if your dog is happy or hungry, but how do you know if it is in pain? As pet parents, we want to make sure our dogs are living their best lives and pain can be difficult to determine in your pet. Knowing the key signs of pain can help your pet avoid further injury or illness and help give you peace of mind.

We’ve developed an overview of the common symptoms of pain in your pet. If your dog demonstrates one or more of the following symptoms, they may be in pain and it’s critical that you contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Signs of Pain in Dogs:


Pain can make dogs feel agitated, irritable, or cranky. If your dog demonstrates sudden or unusual aggression (including unnecessary biting, growling, barking, or violent attacks), it might be due to pain or a physical irritation.

 Abnormal Habits

If your pet’s behavior has recently changed, it could be a sign of pain. If your dog is sleeping too much or too little, changed their appetite, constantly panting, or limping, these are very likely symptoms of pain in dogs.

  • Many dogs already nap throughout the day, but a significant change in the time they spend sleeping (or awake) can indicate something is wrong. Keep a close eye on your pet and be sure to check on them frequently, especially if you notice they’re having trouble standing or moving.
  • If your dog is the type that eats their food immediately when placed in their bowl, it can be very telling if they are disinterested in food or treats. If you notice your dog’s appetite has changed, call your vet right away.
  • Panting is a normal behavior for dogs and helps them cool down after exercise or play time. If your notice your pet is panting for extended periods of time, call your vet immediately. It could be a sign of pain or respiratory issues.

Whining or Barking

Dogs communicate their pain in very subtle ways, but some signs can be clearer than others. If your dog is excessively howling, whining, crying, yelping, barking or growling, they could be trying to tell you they’re in pain. Be careful around your pet when they’re in this state as they may become more agitated and become aggressive if they are touched or handled in a sensitive spot. Always consult with your vet first.

Excessive Grooming

Your dog will attempt to lick an open wound to help it heal, but excessive grooming or licking can also indicate internal pain. Keep a close eye on your pet to determine if the pain is only in one spot, or if there are several locations. Consult with your vet as soon as possible as too much grooming can open wounds or lead to infection.


Most of the time, shaking or trembling in dogs are normal signs of nervousness or fear. It can also mean that your pet is in pain. Evaluate all of your pet’s symptoms as shaking or trembling alone could indicate many things, including a fever.

Decreased Energy

Your dog’s energy levels can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling. If you notice that your pet is sluggish or isn’t as motivated, they might have pain. Keep a close eye on your pet and document these changes for your veterinarian.

What To Do If Your Dog Is In Pain

 If you have noticed one or more of the following changes in your pet, it is important to consult with your veterinary specialist. You want to make your pet comfortable and as pain-free as possible, so limit their physical activity and keep a close eye on them for any progressing symptoms.

If You Suspect Your Dog Has Cancer

If you or your veterinarian suspect your dog’s pain may be related to cancer, please contact our Pet Advocates at 833-738-4376. We are here to help.

More Than 8,000 Pet Families Have Chosen PetCure Oncology For Their Dog Or Cat's Cancer Therapy. We Give Your Pet A Fighting Chance To Improve Their Quality Of Life.

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