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Published: Apr 03, 2012

One of the big responsibilities that pet owners have is noticing if their dog is in pain or discomfort, because this can indicate a serious issue. Unfortunately, dogs have a natural instinct to mask pain, as it is a sign of weakness in the wild. In fact, hiding pain is so common in dogs that experts in the past actually believed that canines could not feel pain in the same way other animals do.

Recent research has disproved this, but noticing pain in dogs hasn't gotten any easier. Fortunately, attentive pet owners can pick up on the subtle signs that a dog is uncomfortable or in pain. It's important that an owner note any signs of discomfort and bring their pet to a veterinarian, as constant pain could be a clinical sign of hip dysplasia in dogs or another condition.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the warning signs for painful conditions may be very subtle. Typically, a dog will slightly alter his behavior - refusing to climb stairs, resisting being picked up or decreasing its levels of activity in general. Keep an eye on the dog's gait and note if the animal is slow to get up when rising. Whimpering, increased licking, holding the ears flat against the head and a decreased appetite are also signs that may suggest a painful problem.