In 2020, Professor Daniel Mills published a study on the suffering of dogs and cats. He found that between 23% and 80% of dogs with a behavioral problem had a undiagnosed form of pain. This is a game-changing study because it directly affects how we see and work with behavioral cases. The study found that undiagnosed problems related to musculoskeletal, neurological and even gastrointestinal conditions directly or indirectly caused behavioral problems.
Wouldn’t I know if my dog is in pain?
All dog owners know how stoic our dogs can be; they can accept what is happening to them and move on. If your dog is having fun in everything he does, like playing, going for a long walk, or running, he will have adrenaline and dopamine flowing through his body. Adrenaline is a natural reliever and can mask pain.
When it comes to chronic pain, dogs don’t walk not whining and crying; instead, they tend to express pain through behavioral changes. So the chances of you realizing your dog is suffering from chronic pain or discomfort are slim. Consider this if you suffer from chronic pain like arthritis.
The days when the pain is worse are the days when you are likely to be grumpy, short-tempered, i.e. reactive, and not in the mood to do your usual activities. Why should your dog be different?
Signs of potential pain
Adjustments to gait and posture
Regardless of breed or crossbreed, dogs have a correct way of moving and a correct way of maintaining their posture. When a dog adapts to them, we call them abnormal and might indicate underlying pain and discomfort.
Bark, Growl, Lung, Freeze, Reactivity
A common dog behavior problem is reactivity, whether in dogs, people, children, bikes, etc. The dog reacts in such a way as to protect itself from the possibility of pain.
When a dog can’t stand being left alone, he may be too clingy or constantly seeking attention.
A dog who worries about the potential for noise or punches constantly reacts by growling/snapping when startled.
Reluctant to walk or play
Dogs that once bounced out the door at the prospect of a walk are now refusing walks or have stopped playing as before.
This also comes with the possibility of weight gain. “Between 23% and 80% of dogs with a behavioral problem had some form of undiagnosed pain.” So take care of your companions and do not hesitate to go see the veterinarian to find out more.