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Dog Tip: Detecting Canine Pain

By Robin Tierney

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Dogs don't tend to be crybabies. After all, in nature, expressing pain can threaten an animal's survival by signaling vulnerability to predators as well as others competing for resources.

Following are signs that your canine may be in pain, based on information in the February 2008 issue of "Your Dog" newsletter and veterinarians I met at the American Veterinary Medical Association's 2007 annual meeting. .

* Difficulty or hesitation in getting up from a lying position or lying down.

* Change in chewing behavior. For example, reluctance to chew, chewing on one side of the mouth, hovering over the food or water bowl without eating or drinking, and dropping food could signal aching teeth, gums, jaws, with root causes ranging from an infection to a tumor.

* Unusual/rapid change in weight. Overeating? Reluctance to eat? Arthritis, for example, can make it painful to bend over to reach food.

* Avoiding your hands. Does your dog duck from affectionate petting he previously enjoyed? Pulls away when you attempt to comb her fur or otherwise handle her? Such behavior signals an injury, infection, possible joint deterioration, or other problem needing medical attention.

* Decreased range of motion. Is he taking shorter strides on walks? Resisting your attempts to raise her paw for a nail trim? Has he stopped trying to jump on furniture?

* Reduced interest in play and walks.

* Sudden onset of housetraining accidents. Stiff joints and pain might be hampering your dog from both getting to the door in time to squatting and/or lifting legs to relieve himself. Urinary infections, fecal problems, or parasites such as worms make it difficult for a dog to delay urination or defecation when the urge hits.

* Sudden change in other behaviors, such as aggressive incidents (seemingly unwarranted growling, snapping, lunging) or more submissive behaviors (tucked tail, turning the head away, hunching down).

Speaking of pain, this week new incidents of cruelty to animals were exposed on video - inhumane treatment so egregious that it even received some coverage in the mainstream media. Check these links:

* Video Reveals Violations of Laws, Abuse of Cows at Slaughterhouse By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/29/AR2008012903054.html

* Series of short videos documenting farm animal abuse. Keep in mind that since factory farms do not allow reporters or consumers access to their operations, and inspections are brief, infrequent and the operators know when the inspectors are coming, cruelty has gone on for years, reported by workers but rarely caught on film. Be sure to watch all of the videos, which are at the Humane Society of the United States website at:

http://video.hsus.org/

* Important, remarkably enlightening book released late 2006, which reveals how consumers -- that means us -- can motivate industrial food producers to treat animals better AND help the vanishing family farmer by simple, while improving your family's own health. The practical, sensible changes in food choices can be made on several levels. Here's the book:

The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason, 2006

Also recommended: Michael Pollan's books.

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Last Updated: June 23, 2013 (LET) PawSupport