Signs of Discomfort in Dogs

When you notice your dog is not moving as quickly, aches or seems uncomfortable, it can send you into a panic. It’s tough to know exactly how, where and why they’re hurting. As a pet parent, you can learn to recognize signs of discomfort and when to seek veterinary care.

Remember when they were young…
When dogs are young and healthy, they roll around, leap and play hard, full of what seems like endless energy. As dogs mature, there is some settling. But how do you know if your pet is feeling some age-related distress or discomfort?

dalmation dog

Changes in routine and behavior can signal discomfort

Early subtle signs of discomfort often begin with changes in routine and/or behavior patterns. Let your veterinarian know if you’re noticing any of the following:

  • Is your dog hesitant to jump into the car or onto/off of the bed or couch?
  • Is your dog hesitant or slower going up or down stairs? 
  • Does your dog prefer carpeted rooms or walk slower/more carefully on slippery floors? 
  • Does your dog get up slower, with more effort, after a long nap?
  • Did your dog use to follow you everywhere, but now seems to shadow you less?
  • Does your dog seem worried, reluctant to respond or disobedient?
  • Is your dog reacting negatively or flinching/pulling away when being picked up or touched/petted?

Other signs to watch for include:

  • Changes in eating or drinking
  • Changes in sitting or sleeping patterns/positions
  • Changes in your dog’s gait (at a walk, trot or run)
  • Ears back, a slower tail wag and possibly a hunched appearance
  • Panting without exercise, exertion or warm weather
  • Restlessness, pacing or inability to settle
  • More sitting or lying around
  • Less interaction or less sociable with the family
  • Excessive grooming, licking paws, elbows or other joint areas
  • Longer nails (requiring more trimming)
  • Elbow callouses getting larger or thicker

Dogs do not always stop eating or vocalize when they have discomfort.

Discuss signs of discomfort with your veterinarian

Dogs can endure discomfort quietly, but if you are an astute pet parent, you may spot some of these signs. Trust your instincts. You will know when your dog isn’t comfortable. Discuss your observations and concerns with your veterinarian. And remember that when dogs are at the veterinary office, they are excited and may not show the same signs there as they do at home.

Help maintain your dog’s comfort

You can do a lot to help make your canine companion comfortable! Your veterinarian will outline a plan that may include weight loss, regular exercises, pain medication or supplements to manage discomfort.

Your veterinarian may recommend supplements containing certain ingredients:

  • Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and green-lipped mussel provide building blocks to support healthy synovial fluid, cartilage and connective tissues in joints.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements promote joint health and may help relieve inflammation associated with everyday activity and exercise.
  • Plant extracts that contain bioflavonoids such as turmeric, Boswellia, catechin and baicalin may promote normal inflammation and help reduce oxidative damage from exercise, training, competition and normal aging.

These types of supplements may support normal healthy muscle, joint, connective and nervous tissue structures and functions that promote overall joint health, mobility and whole body comfort.

Related Articles:

Senior dog care & supplements
Digestive health in dogs & cats


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