Symptoms of Pain and Illness
- By Jennifer Bryant
Dog owners, who recognize the early signs and
symptoms of illness or pain in their dogs, will not
only relieve their loved ones suffering but may
also be able to save themselves an expensive trip to
the veterinarian. Not only is it important to
recognize these signs early to relieve pain and
suffering, but it is much more effective to treat an
illness when it is detected early.
The dog owner should keep an accurate and detailed
account of their dogs symptoms to help the
veterinarian correctly diagnose and effectively treat
the dogs illness or condition. Most canine
illnesses are detected through a combination of
various signs and symptoms:
Temperature, Respiratory Rate and Heart Rate
A newborn puppy will have a temperature of 94-97º F.
which will eventually reach the normal adult body
temperature of 101.5º F. at the age of 4 weeks old.
Take care when trying to take your dog or puppies
temperature as the thermometer can easily be broken
off in the canines rectum. Also any form of
excitement can cause the temperature to rise by 2-3º
when the dog is actually in normal health. If your
dogs temperature reaches 105º or above OR 96º
or below please take him/her to the emergency vet
An adult dog will have a respiratory rate of 15-20
breaths per minute (depending on such variables as
size and weight) and a heart rate of 80-120 beats per
minute. You can feel for your dogs heartbeat by
placing your hand on his/her lower ribcage just
behind the elbow. Dont be alarmed if the
heartbeat seems irregular compared to a humans
heartbeat, it is irregular in many dogs. Have your
vet check it out and get used to how it feels when it
Any behavior changes that are not associated with a
change in the household atmosphere, such as jealousy
over a new pet or child may be an indication of an
illness. Signs of behavioral changes may be:
If your dog shows any of these signs, he/she needs to
be kept under close watch for a few hours, or even a
few days, until positive signs develop or he/she has
returned to normal. Do not try to exercise the dog or
put him/her in any situation that may cause stress.
Most veterinarians will want for you to keep track of
when the symptoms first appeared, whether they are
getting better or worse, and also whether the
symptoms are intermittent, continuous, or increasing
Dogs that are in pain will likely indicate that they
are suffering by giving you clues as to where the
area of discomfort is. For instance, a dog that has
abdominal pain will continually glance toward their
belly, bite or lick the area, and will not want to
leave his/her bed. The dog may stand hunched over, or
take the prayer position which is when a
dog gets down on its forelegs with the hind
legs still standing, because of the pain in her
Dogs can not tell you that they are hurting or cry
real tears but a dog may vocalize their pain in a
different way. A dog that is hurt suddenly (such as
being stepped on) will cry out or wimper in pain.
This also happens when an external injury or internal
injury (such as an organ) is touched. Whining or
vocalization that is unprovoked may be caused from an
internal injury as well. Some breeds of dogs (such as
the American Pit Bull Terrier) have a higher pain
threshold and need to be watched more closely for
signs of pain. Breeds with a high pain tolerance are
more likely to endure the pain without vocalization.
Another clue to pain is a change in temperament. A
dog that is in pain may show signs of aggression.
Please take note of this before concluding that a dog
has become vicious and let your veterinarian know so
that the correct treatment can be administered. Also
females in general (even humans!) have days when they
are just in a bad mood for no obvious reason. Take
note of days of times that these mood swings occur as
well as any events that might have triggered them.
Other signs that your dog may be sick:
Ears: discharge, debris, odor, scratching,
crusted tips, twitching or shaking.
Eyes: redness, swelling or discharge.
Nose: runny, thickened or colored discharge,
Coughing, sneezing, vomiting or gagging.
Shortness of breath, irregular breathing or
Evidence of parasites in the dogs stool,
strange color, blood in the stool, or lack of a bowel
Loss of appetite or not drinking as much water
as normally would.
Strange color of urine, small amount of urine,
straining, dribbling, or not going as frequently as
Bad odor coming from mouth, ears, or skin.
Hair loss, wounds, tumors, dander or change of
the skins color.
Biting of the skin, parasites, scratching or
licking the skin frequently.
The preceding article was meant to help educate you
to the signs and symptoms of probable pain or
sickness in your dog. If any of these symptoms occur
over a prolonged period of time, please seek the help
of a veterinarian. I hope that this article will help
stress the importance of keeping watch over your
dogs health patterns and the importance of
keeping an accurate, detailed health record for your
About the Author:
Jennifer Bryant is a life-long lover of dogs.
Jennifer loves and breeds American Pit Bull Terriers
in her North Georgia home with her 2 young children.
Her love of dogs has inspired her to create a website
for herself (as well as other breeders) to advertise
their occasional litter of puppies and to educate
others with dog breed information and useful
Bryants Red Devils Red Nose
American Pit Bull Terriers
Puppies and Dogs for Sale.com
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