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7 Warning Signs of Pain in Dogs

As a dog owner, the safety and wellbeing of your pet is a top priority. But of course, dogs and humans don't share the same language – so it can be difficult to tell when your dog is in pain.

Some of the signs a dog is in pain are easy to spot, such as limping or a visible wound. But other signs of pain may be more difficult to identify.

In this post, we'll take a look at 7 of the most common warning signs a dog is in pain. Keep an eye out for these to make sure your buddy doesn't suffer in silence.

If you'd like to find out how CBD oil for dogs combats pain check out this article!

How To Tell Your Dog May Be In Pain Inforgraphic

Warning Signs of a Dog in Pain

Constant Grooming

It's normal for dogs to groom themselves, but if the behavior becomes compulsive and excessive it could be a sign of pain. Pay particular attention if your dog starts to obsessively lick a localized area of his body. Dogs will often lick where it hurts, even if the pain is internal.

If your dog starts grooming excessively – especially if he's paying close attention to one area of his body – it's a good idea to take him to the veterinarian for a checkup on hot spots and to look for possible underlying sources of pain.

Being More Vocal

One of the signs a dog is in pain is increased vocalization. Is your dog making more noise than usual? If so, he could be trying to tell you that he’s in pain.

Look out for a sudden increase in whining, growling, barking, or other kinds of vocalization. And if your dog is being more vocal than normal, check him over to see if you can identify any areas of his body that may be in pain.

Always be sure to inspect your dog's body for painful areas as gently as possible to avoid causing further harm.

Loss of Appetite

Most dogs love to eat, so a disinterest in food can be a warning sign of pain. If your dog is in pain, he may have difficulty eating or moving to where his food bowl is.

Loss of appetite can also be a symptom of serious illness such as liver and kidney conditions, dental disease, and even cancer – so it's best not to take any chances. If your dog is refusing to eat, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.


Sudden changes in a dog's behavior can indicate pain – and aggression is no exception. If your dog is usually docile and friendly, but suddenly becomes aggressive, there's a good chance that he's in pain.

If your dog is showing signs of aggression, take extra care when examining him for injuries. Some dogs may snap at their owners when they're feeling threatened and in pain.


Panting is normal canine behavior that's often a sign of exertion. You've probably noticed that your dog will pant heavily after intense exercises such as running after a ball or toy. If your dog is panting heavily even though he's not been exercising, it can be a sign of stress. And the underlying cause of his stress could be a pain.

Although it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for heavy panting, if it occurs suddenly and unexpectedly it should be a cause for concern. So, if your dog is panting heavily, we recommend a visit to your veterinarian.

Difficulty Moving

Difficulty moving can be a sign of conditions such as arthritis or hip pain. An injury may also be the underlying cause. Keep an eye out for signs that your dog has problems with his mobility such as a reluctance to climb stairs, jump in and out of the car, or run around outside.

A lack of fluidity in your dog's movements is another warning sign of pain. Dogs in pain will tend to move around quite slowly and can often appear stiff and lethargic. They may walk with a limp, or have trouble laying down and getting back up again.

If mobility is an issue a natural product like these advanced mobility chews may go a long way! these contain turmeric which is an anti-inflammatory that is very strong helping pain vanish.

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Other Behavioral Changes

Earlier in this post, we talked about sudden behavioral changes that often indicate pain, such as excessive grooming, aggression, and a loss of appetite. Now, let's take a look at other some other behavioral changes that could be indicators that your dog is in pain.

Changes in Sleeping Patterns

Any change in regular sleeping patterns could be a sign that your dog is in pain. Dogs will sometimes sleep more in an attempt to rest and heal the painful area. But some dogs may sleep less due to the intensity of the pain.

Unexpected Accidents in the House

Dogs in pain often have difficulty moving around, laying down, and getting up out of their bed. This can result in accidents in the house. If your dog is well house-trained but suddenly starts to urinate and defecate in the house, make sure to not rule out pain as the underlying cause.

Products For Dog Pain

Orthopedic Dog Bed

BuddyRest Orthopedic Memory Foam Dog Beds are the perfect choice for dogs suffering from pain. We've consulted with multiple veterinarians to make sure we recommend the best beds and these offer superior comfort, support, and pain relief by redistributing weight evenly across the entire surface of the bed.

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Hemp-Infused Coconut Oil

Your pet will love the taste of this superfood topper, but more importantly, you will love the results. A natural pain and inflammation reducer, this powerful natural combination now reduces anxiety and also helps with allergies and skin issues. Check out our ultimate guide to CBD oil for dogs.

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So, now you know some of the warning signs a dog is in pain and what can you do to help your dog if he’s suffering

One of the first things to do if your dog is in pain is to limit his exercise and give him enough time to heal. Place your dog's bed in a quiet, low-traffic area of the house so that he can rest and recuperate. It's especially important to provide a comfortable dog bed that's the correct size and supports his whole body.

There are a lot of supplements out there that can be a more natural alternative to pain pills, such as coconut oil for dogs, fish oil and even some cannabinoids for dogs that can make a big difference.

Finally, as we've mentioned throughout this post, it's important to visit your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog is in pain. It is often difficult to identify the source of your dog's pain at home, so it's always best to consult a veterinarian who can diagnose the pain and advise you on the correct course of treatment.

Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Catherine Barnette DVM


Catherine is a veterinarian and freelance writer based in Florida. After 14 years as a small animal general practitioner, Dr. Barnette now focuses on creating educational content for veterinary teams and their clients. She shares her home with her husband, daughter, one dog, two cats, and a rescued white dove.

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