How to Know If Your Older Dog Is In Pain

It’s safe to say we’re a nation of dog lovers, with millions of dog owners up and down the UK. If you fall into this category and have your own canine best friend, you’ll want to do everything possible to give them a happy and fulfilled life. However, once you bring a puppy home, the years will fly by, and before you know it, your dog will reach old age. When it comes to pain and hurting, dogs are incredibly good at shielding what’s going on. This means it can be hard to establish whether your older dog is suffering or not. To help, here are some signs that may indicate something is wrong.


If your dog has always been friendly and happy around others, signs of aggression can be alarming. Remember, it’s unlikely your pooch is being aggressive for no reason. Instead, they could be in pain and are trying to tell you this. If you’re grooming your dog and find they lash out when you touch particular areas, this is a clear sign your older dog is in pain. Rather than telling them off for growling or being aggressive, you should look for the underlying cause. It can be difficult to do this on your own, so make sure you speak to your vet as soon as possible.

Localized Grooming

While it’s totally normal for your dog to groom themselves, if they’re excessively licking one area, this could be a sign that they’re in pain. As your dog reaches their golden years, there are all kinds of conditions they’re vulnerable to getting, such as arthritis. This can cause joint pain and discomfort, meaning your dog may start licking certain areas. If you notice a change in their grooming habits, it’s time to speak to your vet for advice.

Change in Sleep Pattern

When you raise a dog, you’ll find a lot of the time they’re slumped in their bed catching up on sleep. While this isn’t anything out of the ordinary, if your dog is sleeping for longer periods, you should be concerned. On the flip side, your older dog may not be sleeping as much, or you find they’re up throughout the night. All these signs can indicate your dog is in pain. As the dog owner, you should notice a difference in your pooch’s sleeping pattern immediately. It’s your responsibility to make note of any changes in their sleeping habits. If you have concerns, make sure to raise them to your vet, as they can establish if these are down to pain, or an underlying health issue.

Change in Eating and Drinking Habits

You’ll have a hard time finding a dog who doesn’t whoosh their tail when they know food is around. This means if your older dog isn’t touching their meals, it’s time to take notice. A change in when and how much food and water your pooch consumes maybe because they’re in pain. If your dog has arthritis, they may struggle to eat its food. Unexplained weight loss or weight gain are clear red flags that your canine could be in pain. Don’t hesitate to speak to your vet in this instance.

Changes in Vocalizations

If you find your older dog is crying, barking, or whining uncontrollably or excessively, rather than seeing this as a nuisance or them acting out for no reason, try to determine whether it is because they’re in pain and discomfort. You need to pay close attention to changes in your dog’s vocalizations, as they may be in distress. Understandably, it’s not fun hearing your dog whining for hours on end, so the quicker you get to the vet, the better.

Mobility Problems

The aging process sadly happens to us all, including dogs. This means when your pooch reaches their final years, they may struggle to get around the home with ease. Whether this includes having difficulty getting up and down the stairs or having problems running and jumping, it can also mean your dog is in pain. Underlying health issues like arthritis could be the root cause behind your dog’s mobility problems, so ensure you contact your vet immediately for more advice.

Breathing Issues

A change in your canine’s breathing patterns could indicate your best friend is in pain. If you notice any gagging, heavy breathing, or a lingering cough, these could be a result of your dog being in distress. As your dog gets older, they may experience labored breathing, which makes them more susceptible to getting fluid in the chest cavity or lungs, which can change how your pooch breathes. Instead of putting off the problem and putting it to the back of your mind, it’s time to see your vet.

Change in Posture

Should you find your canine is dragging one of their legs or limping around the home, these are sure-fire signs they’re in pain. You need to pay attention to your dog’s posture, as they could be trying to tell you something is up. When in pain, some canines have a very hunched stance. If your pooch keeps taking the ‘prayer’ position, this may be because they’re suffering from abdominal pain. However long you’ve had your dog for, you should notice any changes in posture straight away.

What to Do Next

Now that you have an idea of what to look out for, it’s time to see your vet if you have any concerns. If you cannot attend the vets immediately for whatever reason, Native Pet has a guide on pain relief for dogs worth checking out, and they also sell chews that may help in relieving discomfort. As well as guidance on pain relief for dogs, Native Pet craft organic supplements that can be particularly beneficial for your older dog’s health and wellbeing.

If you notice any of the warning signs above in your older dog, don’t wait around. Instead, you should take them to the vet immediately, as this could be a sign that they’re in pain and distress. While it’s inevitable your dog’s health and mobility will decline as they age, your vet can give you expert advice to keep your canine companion happy and healthy.