When you aren’t feeling well, it’s simple to communicate your ache or pain. In many circumstances, you can find help yourself through medicine or by visiting a doctor.

For dogs, it’s much harder for them to convey to humans that they’re experiencing discomfort or pain. If you’re not attuned to your dog, the signs they display can be easy to miss or write off. Below are several ways in which your dog may be telling you he isn’t feeling well.

·       Loss of appetite: A dog that isn’t eating should immediately raise red flags. This can be a symptom of many things ranging in severity. If your dog stops eating, when he would normally gobble it down, take that seriously and place a call to the vet – they can help you determine if it’s worth a visit.

·       Vocalizing: A consistent whimpering or yelping when touched, moving, or for seemingly no reason can indicate pain. If your dog is typically non-vocal and then suddenly begins using his voice, it can be an indication that something is wrong.

·       Wincing and cowering: Displaying fearful or anxious behavior like cowering/flinching can be a symptom of pain or discomfort in your dog. As mentioned, this can also be a sign of anxiety and fear so it’s important to carefully observe when your dog is acting in this manner. Additionally, wincing or squinting of the eyes can be a sign of injury or illness.  

·       Aggression: A sudden and unprovoked case of aggression is cause for worry. Most dogs don’t experience rapid changes in aggression for no reason (although it can happen) and it should warrant an immediate consultation with a veterinarian. Whenever a dog exhibits sudden aggression, you first want to rule out pain and illness. Once a vet has thoroughly examined your dog and ruled out pain or injury, you will proceed with meeting a trainer or behavioral vet for evaluation.

·       Lethargy: If your active dog is now a couch potato with very little drive to move or get around, he may be in pain. This is a common symptom that alerts you to things like arthritis, in which it becomes painful for your dog to move around. If your dog’s newfound lethargy does not improve in 48 hours, make a visit to your veterinarian.

·       Restlessness: On the opposite end of lethargy is restlessness. A dog that can’t settle or is pacing is either experiencing some sort of anxiety or dealing with discomfort that makes it hard to settle. In this instance, a physical examination is key for ruling out illness and injury.

·       Change in behavior: Any unexpected change in your dog’s behavior should be noted. While there are many stressors in a dog’s life that can cause such changes, you can’t rule out pain being one of them. If there’s no obvious reason for the sudden change in behavior, the smartest thing you can do is get your dog to the vet. Caution always wins out over waiting until there’s an emergency.