Of all of the times we wished our dogs could speak to us in words, we really wish they could tell us when they are in pain. Just like other areas of your dog’s life, though, they are telling us when they experience pain, they are just doing so in their own language. In order to help humans how to understand how to interpret what their dog is trying to tell them, the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) has designated the month of September as Animal Pain Awareness Month.
Your dog can experience pain for a variety of reasons, including as a result of an injury, arthritis or cancer or following a surgical procedure. According to the IVAPM website, there are two types of pain. There is acute pain, which would likely come on suddenly and causes obvious distress. There is also chronic pain, which is more likely to be caused by arthritis or even cancer, and would be less noticeable to an owner as it would come on more slowly. Some situations can begin as acute pain and become chronic pain if not treated correctly, like a torn muscle or ligament.
It is important to know your dog’s behavior and physical condition, information that is typically obtained simply by living life together and paying attention to your dog’s everyday movement, temperament, and appearance. In fact, your dog is relying on you to notice changes in behavior or activity levels and act upon this information by taking them to the vet when you see changes. We have put this list of common pain symptoms together with information from Modern Dog Magazine, Vets Now, and the IVAPM site:
- Reluctance to walk on slippery surfaces
- Going up or down stairs
- Becoming selective about what to jump up onto or down from
- Attempting to stand up with the front legs first
- The simple task of lying down may actually become difficult
- Running and jumping activities become more limited
- Placing an abnormal amount of weight on his front legs
- Abnormal wear on nails
- Unwillingness to initiate play or other social interactions
- Aggression toward other animals where no aggression existed before
- Aversion to being petted or brushed
- Disruption in sleep patterns
- A decrease in appetite or water consumption
- House-training issues
- Anxious expression
- Submissive behavior
- Refusal to move
- Guarding behavior
- Heavy panting or shallow/altered breathing
- Self-mutilation/chewing/excessive grooming
- Changes in posture
- Restless behavior like pacing or having difficulty becoming comfortable
If your dog does any of these behaviors you should consult your veterinarian and take your dog in for an exam. Just like with humans, all dogs handle pain differently, so the method that one dog uses to tell her human that she is in pain might be quite different than how another one chooses to tell his owner.
At Iconic Paws, we are passionate about helping dogs experience relief from chronic pain from arthritis and the aging process, which is why we have so many ingredients in our Chicken and Sweet Potato Jerky that are intended to promote healthy joints, like Hemp Meal, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Turmeric, and MSM.
Hemp Meal: Hemp meal comes from hemp seeds that are ground into a powder. Hemp is a plant that is related to the cannabis plant but that does not have the THC that marijuana contains, so it will cause an altered mental state in animals or humans. This ingredient is extremely beneficial in fighting inflammation and promoting healthy joints.
Glucosamine: Glucosamine is found in the cartilage of animals. Dogs make their own glucosamine but as they age, they produce less, so adding it into their diet helps maintain the cartilage in their joints and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Chondroitin: Chondroitin promotes improved elasticity in your dog’s cartilage and also helps keep the tissues in their joints healthy. It also has some anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric: Turmeric is a spice that has curcumin in it, which can help with inflammation, among other things.
MSM: Methylsulfonylmethane is a sulfur that acts as an anti-inflammatory and natural pain reliever.
In addition to dietary supplements, more and more pet care professionals are offering canine physical rehabilitation, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and canine massage. It is important to research the provider’s education and certification before agreeing to treatment, but when done correctly, these methods can be extremely beneficial in handling chronic pain and mobility issues.
You can search for providers on the website of some of the organizations that teach and offer certifications in these areas like the National Board of Certification, Canine Rehabilitation Institute, Canis Bodyworks, or the Northwest School of Animal Massage.