There are many ways to tell your dog is injured. Like all animals, dogs feel it when they're hurt. But years of evolution have taught them not to show it – as that may be a sign of weakness so could incite attack from a rival dog. Despite their efforts to mask what they’re feeling, there are several ways to tell your dog is experiencing discomfort.
Bodily changes are some of the most obvious indications of discomfort in your dog.
Loss of mobility
Aside from limping, you may see other mobility changes. For example, your dog may have trouble getting up or lying down, walk when they would normally run, difficulty going up and down stairs, jump less (if at all) and so forth. Minor injuries may cause the dog to choose to limit mobility, while serious injury will prevent it altogether.
One of the most obvious signs of injury is limping, a sign that discomfort is preventing the application of weight. Injured dogs will also typically move around less.
If your dog is injured, you may notice him taking fast, short breaths, or even pant heavily. Especially in colder weather, this can indicate he’s in discomfort.
Signs in the eyes
Sometimes when dogs are injured, even not located in the eye area, they’ll squint – their way of grimacing. More significant injuries can also cause dilation of your dog’s pupils.
Changes in posture
Posture changes can also be indications of discomfort. Hanging or tucking the tail, when it would normally be wagging, holding a leg in a strange position, hanging the head or an arched/stiff back can all indicate discomfort in your dog.
Behavioral changes are less obvious signs of injury, as they can often be confused with symptoms of other causes.
Injury can make even the friendliest dog turn to more aggressive behavior. When an injured area is touched, a dog may growl, snap or attack – a natural protection mechanism to prevent further discomfort. The dog may also take an aggressive posture (growling, ears back, teeth bared, etc) to prevent you from approaching.
Change in appetite
Often, injured dogs show a decrease in appetite. A dog whose mouth hurts may feel hungry, and go at his bowl like normal, but will drop the food instead of eating it.
Discomfort may cause restlessness or prevent your dog from getting comfortable. In this case, you might notice him pacing, repeatedly readjusting his position, or getting up and down frequently.
Change in sleep
Discomfort or injury can affect your dog’s sleep in either direction – some dogs become lethargic and sleep a lot, others insomniac and sleep far less. What’s constant is a significant change in your dog’s sleep habits.
Some injured dogs adopt an opposite response from aggression – they adopt avoidance behaviors. A dog who is avoiding uncomfortable situations might shy away from your touch, he won’t interact with you even for his favorite games and he may hide away in an out of sight place.
Whether or not you use hemp for your dog's pain, knowing he's in discomfort can help to keep minor problems from turning into major ones, and will help keep pup happy. And when they’re happy, you’re happy!