How would you determine that your dog is in pain?
Most of us would expect whimpering, immobility, or maybe tears. However, even after surgeries our dogs rarely demonstrate these behaviors. In fact, they keep moving despite our desperate efforts to get them to rest. Veterinarians will often send dogs home from surgery without pain medication, since the dog isn’t exhibiting any obvious signs of discomfort.
What do you think? Do dogs actually have a higher threshold for pain?
Scientists don’t believe so. They argue that in the canine world pain is literally a sign of weakness. At some point in their evolutionary history, demonstrating weakness made dogs vulnerable to attack or demotion within the pack. Therefore, they suppress obvious signals of pain in order to protect themselves. Unfortunately, this instinctive stoic nature can make it hard for us humans to recognize pain in our companions.
You are your dog’s best vet when it comes to diagnosing pain. You know what their behavior is normally like. You know their temperament and personality and interests. If you notice continued subtle changes in your dog’s activity, aggression, or hunger levels, consider taking your dog to the vet since prolonged pain is dangerous to not only physical health, but mental health as well. Pain-related stress will negatively affect the functioning of many vital organs, which can inhibit recovery and ultimately lead to more health issues.
Some vets that don’t prescribe medication will argue that experiencing pain encourages your dog to rest. Before you accept that, consider the amount of stress you would experience during post-surgery pain. Yes, you’d be bed ridden, but you’d also be miserable and it’d ultimately take longer to heal.
This is just another reason to be cognizant of your dog’s behaviors and personality. Being able to quickly recognize your dog’s invisible pain will save you both unnecessary and dangerous amounts of stress.