Dogs are man’s best friend so of course we’re always in tune with their feelings, right? Not necessarily. As close as you are to your own four-legged pal, you may not be fully aware of the subtle signs that can sometimes denote stress and discomfort instead of misbehaving. Become extra sensitive to their needs as we reveal what your dog’s actions could really be trying to tell you.
1. Regular Panting
Myth: Excitable or hungry
Frequent panting can sometimes be a reaction to stress brought upon by pain. A clearer sign that your dog is in pain is if they assume a strange posture or sit tentatively to avoid discomfort. At first, however, a dog may engage in panting or shallow breathing as a coping mechanism for pain-related stress. On its own, this is not a guaranteed sign of stress in dogs, but it’s wise to be on high alert if regular panting is combined with a swift mood change.
Long-time dog owners can sometimes be the best judge of their well-being, simply due to being so familiar with their unique behaviour. However, if persistent panting is ever coupled with other changes in your dog such as becoming quieter or less alert than usual, it may be worth a visit to the vets. Stress can prolong recovery so the quicker you can recognise signs of pain-induced stress in your dog, the better.
2. Pacing Around
Myth: Eager for walkies
Truth: Restless and possibly in pain
If you find your dog routinely pacing up and down the room, it may not always indicate the need for a walk or an urgent toilet break. If this is occurring on a regular basis, it may mean that your dog is restless, quite possibly due to some mild pain or discomfort.
Pacing in dogs can stem from a number of things such as a minor injury to exposure to hot and cold temperatures. However, a common cause for restlessness in dogs is canine bloat. This requires immediate medical attention as it can cause serious problems for your dog if left untreated. Sure-fire signs of canine bloat are obvious abdominal swelling and excessive salivating so be sure to spot the signs fast.
3. Sudden Growling
Myth: Has it in for the postman
Truth: Protective and in pain
Generally, a healthy dog will growl in response to provocation during play or feeling threatened by new and unfamiliar faces. However, when a dog begins to growl (and in an aggressive fashion) towards owners and friendly faces, pain is usually the reason. This is because dogs are protecting the parts of their body that hurt, viewing whoever approaches them as a threat. This kind of response from your dog can signify either anxiety or mild to moderate pain, so it’s wise to seek treatment as early as possible.
If you notice any of the above behaviours persistently in your pooch, it may be an early warning sign that your dog is suffering from poor health in some form or another. To be on the safe side, take them to an animal surgeon such as Veterinary Specialist Services in your local area. A quick examination with an animal specialist may be all that’s needed to put the spring back into your dog’s step.