Vet in Markham is concerned: How to tell if your dog is in pain.

By September 30, 2013 February 28th, 2019 Uncategorized

Do you know who said this…

Oh, what is the matter with poor Puggy-Wug?

Pet him and kiss him and give him a hug.

Run and fetch him a suitable drug.

Wrap him up tenderly all in a rug.

That is the way to cure Puggy-Wug.

Actually it was Winston Churchill referring to his young daughter’s pug! The point is: Veterinarians in Markham agree that, at some point in their lives, your pets will suffer pain.

How to recognize this and how you handle pain are the key questions.

Dogs and cats, like human beings, are great actors. Act One usually involves masking the outward signs of pain – but they do it for vastly different reasons. Veterinary clinics and animal hospital teams know from experience that cats, as solitary creatures hide any sign of weakness could make them prey to other stronger animals. Therefore cats will always be masters at concealing any pain. Dogs hide pain too, but they are different.

The Nature of Dogs is quite different:

Veterinarians in Markham help dog owners to understand the nature of dogs to know how they handle pain. Like wolves, dogs are instinctually pack animals. So when they are no longer able to provide for the pack (translate: when they can’t go hunting with the pack), they are no longer viewed as an asset to their group. Therefore dogs and wolves cover up symptoms of pain quite cleverly. It’s instinctual.

The truth is that dogs can indeed feel pain just like humans do. We know this from observing the brain waves of dogs in various research studies. These waves are, in fact, similar to a human’s brain waves.

Old or painful? This is the question…

Many times owners come to my vet hospital believing that their pet is just getting old and is slowing down a bit. And many times they have a painful condition (tooth ache ranks on the top, followed by arthritis, bladder pain, and others). Once we control the condition the pooch is suddenly acting young like a puppy again. I can recall a lot of instances when veterinarians here have relieved a painful pet condition, such as extracting an infected tooth and the dog started playing with its toys again. In hindsight it’s easy to know that this is simply because your dog’s pain is gone.

So please, pay extra attention to your dog’s subtle changes in behaviour and understand his or her instinctive masking of it.

Look for either of these signs:

  • Increased sleeping
  • Less interest in the family
  • Limping
  • Bad breath
  • Getting “old”
  • Frequent urination (small amounts a lot of times)
  • Reduced appetite (if you have a Retriever, you won’t see this sign until it is very late)
  • Whining
  • Heavy breathing
  • Ears being pulled back more often


I know, it’s not easy to find pain in dogs. The listed signs could be normal but if you see them you have to start looking for reasons of pain. Chances are your dog is hiding his pain and he is deceiving you for fear of being abandoned by you.  We’ll continue this blog in a few days…

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Dr. Ernst Marsig and Your Careteam

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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