Recognising when your dog is experiencing pain

There are lots of reasons why your dog might be experiencing pain and it can be hard for us to notice the subtle signs they are showing. Especially if your dog has an ongoing chronic condition that is slowly getting worse – the slow deterioration may mean we do not realise how much discomfort they are actually in.

There are lots of different signs that can be an indication of pain. It is very rare that dogs yelp or cry out in pain, especially if the pain is ongoing. Lots of dogs are very good at hiding when they are in pain, as they want to keep us happy and not show signs of weakness. So it is our job to look out for any signs that might indicate they are experiencing discomfort.

Examples of signs of pain

There are tools that can help us to objectively assess if a dog is showing signs of pain. One of these is the BEAP pain scale ( This provides a list of signs that you can look for in your dog, and then enables you to use these to give an overall rating as to how much pain your dog might be experiencing.

Some examples of signs of pain include:

  • Panting at rest
  • Dull eyes with a furrowed brow
  • Slow/stiffness when lying down or trying to get up
  • Not managing stairs or being able to jump on furniture that they used to
  • Restlessness
  • Not liking being touched in areas they used to

If you have any concerns that your dog is experiencing pain, it is important to book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to have them examined. There are many options for pain relief which could help to improve your dog’s comfort and quality of life. However, if the time comes where they can no longer be kept comfortable even with pain relief, you may need to consider the impact of the pain on their quality of life.