4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Pain?



4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Pain?


Species all over the entire world experience different levels of pain. Two individuals of the same species can feel pain differently even. No two individuals have the same pain tolerance level, so it is hard to know exactly how one will react to something compared to another. 

When it comes to dogs, we all know for the most part that they can feel pain. As humans, there is almost nothing worse than accidentally stepping on your dog's paw and them yelping out. The real question is how much pain do they feel and can they feel different levels of it?


Signs Your Dog Feels Pain

Since there are many different injuries that can happen to a pup, there are going to be plenty of different signs to look out for. With this, there may be some signs that are not always there. In general, the following signs are the ones to look out for the most. 

If you start noticing that your dog is acting lethargic and sleeping much more than usual, this could easily be a sign that something is not right. A lot of the time, dogs do not realize or just do not know how to let their owner know that something is wrong. If they seem off somehow, this is a good indicator that you need to check on them. 

Another sign to look out for is if your usually happy-go-lucky pup starts acting aggressively. They may show this behavior by growling at things they previously had no issue with. This aggression may also rear its head while you are petting your pooch - and you happen to touch the spot that is hurt. If this happens, carefully approach them to let them know you are going to try to help them. 

Additionally, if you notice your dog barking or snapping at people or objects, there is a good chance that something is not right with them and they may be in a lot of pain. You will need to careful when approaching any dog acting like this, but they should sense that you are trying to help. 

Body Language

A pup in pain may show some of the following signs:

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Cowering
  • Weakness
  • Snapping
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Some other signs to watch for include:

  • Limping Or Walking Slowly
  • Sensitive To Touch
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Hiding

History of Pain in Dogs


For many years, humans were under the impression that dogs could not possibly understand pain on the same level as us and believed that dogs could be sent home with no pain medication - even after having surgery!

It has since been proven that dogs are in fact able to feel pain, and thank goodness for that! For a long time, veterinarians would not give animals pain medications after surgery because they thought the animals were fine without it. Over time, studies were done that were able to prove that these canines were feeling pain. 

When the studies done looked back on past medical records of dogs not getting medication, they were able to see these dogs showed more aggression, because of their intense pain. Today, veterinarians are aware that dogs do experience pain, even if they are not able to tell us in the same way humans are able to. Since we are aware of this, we are now able to get the puppers the medications that they need to stay healthy and pain-free.

The Science Behind Dogs Feeling Pain


There is still a lot for us humans to learn when it comes to dogs and whether or not they are able to fully feel pain. It is obvious to us that they can feel it to some extent because they are able to react to it. This shows that they definitely have nerves in their body that are letting their brain know that there is a problem after an injury has occurred. 

Dogs, like most mammals, seem to feel pain in a very similar way to us. Their bodies respond to damage in the same way that ours do, and they heal in a similar fashion (although they tend to be way more tough than us, it seems.)

Dogs are able to indicate to us that something is wrong by how they act towards us. As their owners, we are in charge of making sure they are safe and healthy. Scientists forecast that as time goes on, we should begin to learn even more about how their bodies truly react to pain.

Handling Your Pup's Pain


There is obviously no way of really training your dog on how to react to pain. It just isn't possible. When it comes to pain in dogs, only your dog will know how to react to the different kinds of pain they experience.

When your pupper is dealing with pain, it is your job to know how to handle it, which means you will need to train yourself on how to best help your pup and then train them on how to know you are helping. Firstly, after you have had your four-legged friend for a while, you will more than likely pick up on their different personality traits and even understand how they are feeling most of the time. If they are acting strange or your head is telling you that there is something wrong, you should probably listen to it. 

When you are checking out your pup, you will want to make sure they know you are helping them out. This is where the training comes in. You will want to train your dog to let you check on their different body parts. You can do this by using repetition and treats as positive reinforcement. What this will do is let them know it is a good and safe thing to allow you to check their body out for any harm. 

This will also make sure that they become used to you doing this type of thing. That way, in case of an emergency, they will not have any issue with you checking their body. With that being said, as long as your dog is given a stress-free and happy environment, your dog will feel safe coming to you when they are in pain. This does not mean, however, that you should not be as gentle as possible. Until you know where the injury is located and the extent of the damage, be extra-careful as you check over each body part.

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Safety Tips for Helping a Pup in Pain

  1. Make sure that they are not acting aggressively. Do not get too close to them if they are being aggressive or showing obvious signs of fear. They may try to snap at you.
  2. If you realize that your pup is experiencing a high amount of pain, take them to the nearest vet possible to get them checked out.
  3. Follow all direction provided by the vet, and administer any medications given as prescribed.

By a Keeshond lover Molly Martin

Published: 03/20/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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