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Sources of Hidden Pain in Dogs

Learn the most common sources of non-obvious pain in dogs.

No one wants their dog to be in pain, but sometimes it happens. And it can be challenging to figure out where the pain is coming from. A veterinarian is best equipped to do a thorough physical exam and track down the source of pain, but below are some of the common non-obvious causes of pain in dogs.

Learn the signs that dogs often show when they're in pain, so you'll know when to head to the vet: "Signs of Pain in Dogs."

Dental Pain

Pain in a dog's mouth can easily hide in plain sight. It could be a tooth root abscess, periodontal disease, a loose or broken tooth, or oral cancer. Signs may include something specific to the mouth, such as drooling or pawing at the mouth with a paw, but they may also be quite generalized. The dog may not eat well, could hide and act depressed, or may be extra clingy.

Joint Pain

Joint pain is most common as a dog enters middle age and beyond because of arthritis, but it can also sometimes occur in younger dogs with anatomical abnormalities such as elbow or hip dysplasia or an injury. Joint pain can also be the result of certain types of infections, like Lyme disease, or systemic illness like lupus.

Dogs with joint pain may limp or have difficulty getting up and down from a lying position. They may have a swollen or warm joint or joints. They may also show generalized signs such as depression, hiding, and clinginess.

Abdominal Pain

Pain in the abdomen can be one of the most challenging types for an owner to identify. It can be the result of gastritis or enteritis or something more serious such as intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, or GDV, which is life-threatening. Dogs may walk with an arched back, cry, appear to have difficulty getting comfortable, vomit, or refuse to eat or play. Abdominal pain can be hard to differentiate from back pain if there is no vomiting.

Ear Infection

Ear infections can be itchy, uncomfortable, and downright painful for dogs. In some cases, infections can cause ruptured eardrums, and that hurts even more.

Dogs with an ear infection usually scratch or rub at the ear. Sometimes, they hold their head tipped to one side.

Learn more: "Otitis Externa: Ear Infections in Dogs."

Bladder Infection

In humans, a bladder infection is quite painful, and dogs appear to suffer with them too. The signs can overlap with those of abdominal pain with the addition of licking incessantly at the penis or vulva and urinating in the house. Learn more: "Urinary Tract Infection: UTI in Dogs."

Spinal Pain

Spinal pain can cause severe pain in dogs. It can be due to injury, arthritis, IVDD, or tumor. Dogs may walk in a hunched position, cry when they move specific ways, or simply be slow and not act like themselves.

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Signs of Pain in Dogs

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