What Causes Pain In Dogs?

Pain in Dogs


Dogs will rarely cry or whine unless they are in severe pain. They often suffer in silence because from a survival point of view, they do not want to draw the attention of predators.

It’s often difficult to identify pain but untreated pain can have system-wide damaging effects.


What are your primary concerns about managing pain and inflammation in your pet?


We can assume that a dog will experience pain following injuries or surgical procedures; however, there are many other causes of pain. Although the signs are subtle, careful observation of behavioral and physical changes will often reveal that the dog is in pain. Here’s an overview of various causes of pain in dogs:


Age is often accompanied by chronic, painful and progressively deteriorating conditions that include:

  • Osteoarthritis (or degenerative joint disease) – a common form of arthritis in dogs. This painful joint disease is a progressive inflammation of the joint caused by the deterioration of cartilage. This commonly occurs in middle-aged to older dogs.
  • Obesity – excess weight puts more strain on bones and joints and brings an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
  • Congestive heart failure(CHF) refers to the heart’s inability to pump adequate blood to the body. There are many causes of CHF in dogs. The two most common causes are:
    • mitral valve insufficiency (MVI) – a leaky mitral valve
    • dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) – a disease of the cardiac muscle that results in a decreased ability of the heart to pump blood through the body.
  • Kidney issues – chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the result of the ‘wearing out’ of the kidney tissues and is an irreversible and progressive deterioration of renal function. The kidneys’ crucial functions of removing waste products from the blood stream, regulating the levels of certain essential minerals such as, potassium and sodium, conserving water, and producing urine are compromised.


There are many conditions and diseases that cause pain in dogs. Here are just a few:

  • Arthritis – the smooth cartilage covering a dog’s joints can break down and painful wear and tear lead to arthritis.
  • Pancreatitis – the pancreas helps digest food and controls blood sugar. When the pancreas becomes inflamed there can be sharp pain.
  • Cancer – dogs are at risk of developing various types of cancer; however, bone cancer, is one of the most painful.
  • Periodontal disease or gum disease – is a progressively degenerative condition that is an inflammation or infection that causes weakening of support structures of the teeth leading to loosening or loss of teeth.
  • Intervertebral disc disease – this is a painful condition as a result of an acute rupture of an intervertebral disc of the spine in the back or neck. This condition can lead to permanent spinal cord damage causing partial or complete paralysis.


Common bacterial infections in dogs include:

  • Ear infections – in puppies ear mites can also be a source of infection
  • Skin infection – external signs are usually present
  • Leptospirosis – from drinking stagnant, contaminated water
  • Kennel cough – a familiar, highly contagious disease that affects the respiratory system

Yeast infection, the most common type of ear infection in dogs, can also be painful.


  • Hit by a car
  • Bitten by another dog
  • Eye trauma – corneal scratches or ulcers, perforations and globe rupture
  • Ingesting foreign objects – e.g. broken glass, rocks, sand or shoes
  • Poisoning – from human medications, household chemicals, common foods and plants
  • Back problems – back pain is a common condition in dogs as a result of activities such as, excessive leaping on and off furniture, jumping, running and other motions
  • Cruciate ligament ruptures – torn knee ligament
  • Broken or torn nails – usually from nail neglect

If you suspect your dog is in pain, contact your veterinarian immediately. Early diagnosis and prompt pain management protocol can provide consistent pain relief and in the case of disease slow down its progression for a good quality of life.

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