He can’t be in pain, he’s not complaining!
Like all of us, dogs feel pain. But they often suffer without us noticing. They are better at tolerating pain than we are and are a lot less emotional about it.
In humans, intense pain which we know will not last long is much easier to endure than chronic pain. But cats and dogs have a different perception of time.
Furthermore, in her great wisdom but with even greater tolerance for cruelty, Mother Nature does not allow an animal to show pain. Having more respect for life itself than for individuals, Mother Nature wants a good parent to reproduce. After winning the fight against the old alpha male, a wolf will have to endure the pain, lick his wounds and reproduce. If he shows he is in pain, the other wolves will see this as a sign of weakness and he will have to fight again and risk not being able to pass his genes on to the next generation.
Because dogs are in some way domesticated wolves, we must learn to recognize the often subtle signs.
Here is a list of the behavioural changes to watch out for:
- Licking of a specific part of the body. This is a normal behaviour but it may be a sign of itching or pain especially if it becomes a compulsive behaviour;
- Breathing harder and faster. This is a normal behaviour since dogs and cats regulate their body temperature through breathing. But it can also be a sign of anxiety and pain;
- Lack of appetite;
- Becoming more defensive and displaying signs of aggression;
- Aloofness and tending to isolate himself.
This list is by no means complete.
You know your furry friend, you are familiar with his routine and his habits and if they have changed, you must assume that there is a problem and consult your vet. An abscessed tooth or arthritis is often diagnosed and after medication is prescribed, the client will tell us that his dog seems five years younger, “he is more playful, I've got my dog back”.
Be alert and vigilant, his well-being depends on it!