What is Pain?

Pain is Complex !!

'Pain is never just ‘in the mind’ or ‘in the body’, but is a complex mix involving our whole being and how our brain interprets these signals.  It changes from one day to the next.'

‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Documents: Long-term conditions practical guide.’


Pain in our animals is often very difficult to see.  We all think that we would know if our animals were in pain; as we all want the very best for the animals in our lives.  

We have to remember that dogs are very stoic creatures, and hide their pain extremely well.  They also speak a different language 'dog', so we can only try to interpret the physical and behavioural signs.  In the wild, hiding signs of pain or weakness is a survival tactic, which our domesticated dogs have naturally inherited.

It is important to remember that we are all individuals, some of us have a higher pain threshold than others and not all typical symptoms are present; our dogs are no different.

Physical signs can include:

  • Unusual gait
  • Difficulty standing up after a nap
  • Excessive stretching
  • Unexplained kicking of the legs
  • Reluctance to jump up
  • Strange sitting position
  • Decreased activity (not wanting to play etc)
  • Over licking or grooming a particular area
  • Dry nose
  • Increased collar size

Behavioural signs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in behaviour
  • Increased vocalisation, including whining, yelping or whimpering
  • Reluctance to be touched
  • Growling or snapping
  • Withdrawn or not participating in activities that they use to enjoy.

All of this is just our dogs way of protecting themselves from further injury.



You can help your vet by providing a diary of your observations and any short video clips of the physical and behavioural signs observed.


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