In Pain in Dogs

Why is my dog in pain?

What is In Pain?

Your dog may be in pain for many different reasons and sometimes it takes diagnostic testing by your veterinarian to determine the cause of that pain. As dogs age, you may notice they begin slowing down and showing symptoms of aches and pains. Young dogs can also experience pain from injuries and illnesses. Dogs are really good at hiding the fact that they are feeling discomfort unless the pain is so intense or the cause of the pain is obvious such as a trauma or noticeable limp.

When you suspect your dog is in pain, gently go over your dog to determine where the pain is coming from. If your dog is limping, feel along the leg they are favoring to see where on the leg the pain occurs. If your dog seems to have pain in their neck or stomach, feel along their body and note where the pain is located. Sometimes sprains or strains do not require immediate veterinary attention, but generally, if your dog is experiencing pain it is best to make an appointment with your veterinarian. There are too many sources of pain in dogs to list, but here are a few that can be common:

  • Arthritis
  • Ear infection
  • Toothache
  • Cancer
  • Bladder or kidney infection
  • Broken or fractured bone
  • Hip dysplasia

Why In Pain Occurs in Dogs


As your dog ages, they may begin to experience changes to their joints and may develop arthritis. Arthritis will vary in severity depending on how quickly the condition progresses. Most dogs will need to be on a pain management treatment plan as the condition progresses to keep them from becoming so debilitated that their quality of life diminishes. 

Ear Infection

Ear infections can be common, especially in dogs that have ears that hang down. Your dog may experience pain from the ear infection and if not treated quickly, they can experience hearing loss, ear pain and headaches. Toothaches that are not diagnosed quickly can cause your dog immense pain when they eat or chew on toys. 


Cancer in dogs can be painful, especially bone cancer that goes undetected until the late stages. In many instances, your veterinarian will have to run a number of diagnostic tests before they look for certain types of cancers. 

Bladder or Kidney Infection

Bladder or kidney infections can also cause pain in your dog. The inflammation from the infection can cause your dog extreme discomfort as well as make them feel ill and not themselves. Kidney or bladder stones can also be extremely painful for your dog. If you notice your dog is straining to urinate, you need to make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.

Broken or Fractured Bone 

Obvious broken or fractured bones where a trauma has occurred will cause extreme pain for your dog. If you can feel or see the break or fracture, then you need to stabilize the limb or area as best you can and get your dog into your veterinarian immediately. If your veterinary clinic is closed seek help from your nearest emergency veterinary clinic. Sometimes fractures or breaks are not so severe that you can see the actual break or fracture then you still need to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition that will leave your dog in intense pain and debilitated to the point where they will no longer be able to support their hindquarters and walk normally. Hip dysplasia requires specialized care and pain management treatment plans to keep your dog from suffering.

What to do if your Dog is In Pain

Treatment plans will vary depending on the diagnosis that your veterinarian delivers. Once your veterinarian has finished their assessment and diagnostic tests, they will discuss your dog’s treatment options with you. Dogs that are suffering from chronic pain may do well with a set pain management plan in place to help alleviate some of the chronic pain they are feeling. 

Dogs suffering from bladder or kidney infections or ear infections will need to be prescribed an appropriate antibiotic to clear the infection. Be sure to follow all dosing instructions exactly and finish all medications to ensure that the infection has been eradicated. 

Arthritis can be managed by giving anti-inflammatory medications and pain management medications. Your veterinarian may also suggest some natural remedies to help give your dog some relief from their arthritis. Your dog will require regular visits to see your veterinarian to ensure that the treatment plan is still being effective. 

Broken or fractured bones will most likely require surgery and then post-surgical care. Your veterinarian will discuss your dog’s options and chances of success depending on the severity of the break or fracture. Pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications will need to be prescribed while your dog is recovering. 

Hip dysplasia will require specialized care to ensure that your dog’s condition is not deteriorating too quickly. Your veterinarian may need to refer you to a specialist for long-term care. The same is true for cancer care in your dog. Most dogs that are diagnosed with bone cancer will be euthanized when their quality of life deteriorates significantly and their pain can no longer be managed.

Prevention of In Pain

Many times it is difficult to keep your dog from being in pain. Just like humans, as dogs age they will begin to feel aches and pains. Giving a joint supplement may help combat some of those aches and pains. Keeping your dog from doing excessive jumping on hard surfaces or sliding on slick surfaces can help keep their joints from breaking down prematurely.

Be sure to perform thorough assessments of your dog daily, watching for any change in their mobility and note if they seem to be stiff or unwilling to get up. This could mean that your dog is beginning to have issues with arthritis or hip dysplasia. Be sure to set up routine visits to your veterinarian to ensure that any pain that your dog may be feeling is caught early and can be properly diagnosed and treated.

Cost of In Pain

When your dog is in pain, it may be expensive to determine the exact cause and then to treat the condition. Broken or fractured bones can cost around $2000 to properly repair. Arthritis treatments can cost from $200 to $2500. Infections can be treated for around $300 to $600. Cancer care, depending on the type of cancer and stage, can cost from $1200 to $6000. Hip dysplasia can be an expensive treatment and can cost anywhere from $1500 to $15000.

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In Pain Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Coton de Tulear




11 Years


2 found this helpful


2 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Pain, Panting & Shaking After Pain
Our Coton is 11. She screamed last week when she walked across our bed. She repeated this two times in the next hour. We took her to the emergency clinic. The vet examined her back and neck, legs, paws and bowel and could find nothing wrong. She does not limp. Her appetite is good. Her nose is wet. She wants to be carried up stairs. She pants and shakes occasionally after she has cried out. My foot hit one of her back legs when we were walking two days ago and she really screamed. What should we do?

March 9, 2018

2 Recommendations

If the Emergency Veterinarian was unable to find anything wrong with Bella, it may be a case of giving her strict rest and monitoring her to see if any other symptoms occur; intermittent issues involving joints for example can be nearly impossible to show to a Veterinarian as we need to catch the issue ‘in the act’. I would give her rest and if possible (if it is long enough) try to record an episode on video for your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 10, 2018

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