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How to Tell If Your Dog's in Pain
and how to measure your dog's heart rate

Our little dogs are good at hiding signs of pain. That may be an instinct developed when they lived in the wild and needed to hide weakness from predators.

There are medical studies that confirm this trait. Researchers at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine video taped dogs continuously after routine spay surgery. When researchers entered the kennel, the dogs wagged their tails and greeted their visitors. As soon as the researchers left, the dogs became listless and showed signs of distress.

Since they won't tell us they're in pain, how does an owner know when his dog needs medical care?

Most dogs will eat anything they find on the ground and most dogs are social beings who love to be around their family members.

If your dog is having trouble eating and/or hides from and avoids contact with his family, those are ominous signs that your dog is probably in pain and needs medical care.

Other signs to look for are

  • Unusually quiet, lethargic or unresponsive
  • Reluctant to rise or walk
  • Biting at or pulling at a body part such as an ear
  • Unable to sleep
  • Acting out of character such as snapping at people or animals he used to like
  • Constantly licking one part of his body
  • Whining, whimpering or howling

The most reliable ways to verify that your dog is in pain is through medical tests such as blood pressure which may be difficult to perform at home.

Easier medical checks for owners are to measure your dog's heart rate or pulse.

An increase in your dog's heart rate/pulse or respiration from his normal baseline may be an indicator of pain.

The short video below shows you how to check your dog's heart rate.


If you're concerned about your dog or he has any of the signs of above, get him to a vet!

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