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Published: Dec 05, 2011

Understanding and treating pain in dogs is an ever-changing practice, as canines are known for purposely hiding their pain as a survival mechanism, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Veterinarians have a better understanding than ever before about the subtle signs that may indicate pain in a dog.

Clinical signs of a painful dog may include whimpering or unusual vocalization. While these are the most common signs, some painful dogs become more quiet and withdrawn. Painful dogs may lash out or act aggressively—especially if someone is trying to touch them in the area when they hurt. Painful dogs frequently hold their ears flat—pinned back—against their head. Dogs with a specific area of pain may lick or bite at the affected area. Dogs with pain often eat less than normal or may stop eating altogether.

VCA reports that owners should monitor their dog for any of these signs and schedule an examination at a veterinarian health clinic if any are detected. Pain may come from chronic conditions such as arthritis or acute pain may indicate trauma or something more serious. A veterinarian will assess the dog to localize where the pain is coming from. Radiographs (xrays), blood work or other diagnostic tests may be recommended to get a complete evaluation. Once the condition is identified, there may be specific therapies or pain medications that are available to help alleviate the pain.