Common Causes of Dog Pain

faceshot of handsome white down with face nestled between paws appearing worried and sad

When you notice that your dog is in pain, it can send you into a panic. It’s tough to know exactly how and where they’re hurting. Unlike humans, our canine friends don’t have the ability to tell us about their pain.

As a pet parent, it’s on you to recognize when your dog might be experiencing discomfort. Because your dog can’t communicate like a human, it’s important to recognize signs of pain in dogs.

Some conditions may look painful, such as a deep cut, but the ones on the outside tend to be less painful than what they may be experiencing on the inside. It’s possible your dog could be suffering pain from arthritis, ear infections, or even cancer. No matter what the condition is, understanding your pets circumstance and acting quickly and efficiently will help save your pets life.

There are certain health conditions in pets that are more painful than others including:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Bone Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Slipped Disc
  • Ear Infection
  • Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
  • Peritonitis

In this article, we’re exploring the most common causes of dog pain and highlighting why these diseases happen. We’ll also explore dog pain symptoms, as well as common treatments for each illness.

As you learn about the tell-tale signs of dog pain and get an understanding of your particular dog, you’ll be better able to advocate your canine friend. You’ll know when your dog is experiencing pain, and even gain an understanding of its root causes.

If you notice that your dog is experiencing pain, contact a veterinarian immediately. A veterinarian can diagnose and treat your dog so that he or she can get back to playing fetch as soon as possible.

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Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis occurs when a dog’s pancreas, which is an organ that helps control blood sugar, gets inflamed. Sometimes, pancreatitis can be a passing condition. Other times, it will stay for longer periods.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes pancreatitis in dogs, though some breeds are more likely to get it than others. Pancreatitis can come as a side effect from a drug for something else, or can be triggered by the dog eating something fatty like bacon or pork belly. It seems to occur more often in dogs who are overweight, or older in age.

Your dog may have pancreatitis if he or she has lost his appetite, vomits, and appears to have abdominal pain. Sometimes, a dog with pancreatitis will have a fever or even a low body temperature, lethargy, diarrhea, or a hard time breathing.

There isn’t a drug that can cure pancreatitis for your pup. The most important thing to do is to help your dog get through the attack. Veterinarians may suggest that you don’t give food or water to your dog for a certain period of time, and may administer products, such as cannabinoids, for dog pain.

Bone Cancer

Bone cancer in dogs, scientifically known as osteosarcoma, is a common form of cancer usually found in larger dog breeds.

It’s unknown what causes bone cancer in dogs, and has not been linked to certain genders or genetics. The only common thread is that the cancer seems to affect very large breeds. Some say that a dog is at a greater risk for bone cancer if they have experienced a blunt bone injury in the past.

At first, you may not know your dog is experiencing osteosarcoma and the pain it brings. Symptoms may include swelling, difficulty walking, and pain in the bones or joints. Sometimes, dogs will have a very visible tumor.

Unfortunately, bone cancer in dogs is an aggressive disease, and it may spread quickly through a dog’s body. Many veterinarians may recommend chemotherapy or surgery, but the long-term prognosis for a dog with bone cancer isn’t good. Many veterinarians recommend medications and supplements that can help your friend tolerate pain, as well as reduce inflammation.

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Arthritis

Arthritis, which is essentially inflammation and stiffness in joints, is very common in dogs, just as it is in people. If your dog is out and about, its joints will take a pounding over time, resulting in arthritis as your dog gets older.

Usually, arthritis in dogs occurs when ligaments degenerate over time. As the ligaments disappear, it will become painful for your dog. Eventually, it may be difficult for the dog to walk.

Although arthritis is one of the most common health problems in dogs, it may take a long time to recognize it. Your dog will do everything they can to stay active as long as possible. When your dog has arthritis, you may notice that they’re less able to enjoy the activities as they did before. It may be difficult for them to climb stairs, or jump into the back seat of a car.

If your dog has arthritis, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids and NSAIDs. Unfortunately, these drugs, especially steroids, can have tough side effects. Many pet parents are turning to cannabinoids to help their dogs cope with swelling and pain.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease in dogs, often referred to as canine periodontitis, is a bacterial infection in a dog’s mouth. This disease may begin as plaque, become gingivitis, and ultimately wind up as periodontal disease, which could lead to your dog losing teeth.

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria that the dog ingests when he or she eats, which then forms a plaque over the animal’s teeth. Your dog’s body will recognize that these bacteria shouldn’t be there, and will send white blood cells to the site. The bacteria, however, tells the white blood cells to break down tissue. This interaction can result in sore gums, an inflamed mouth, and eventually the loss of teeth.

It’s tough to notice periodontal disease in a dog, and most won’t notice until the disease has progressed. You may notice that your dog has bleeding gums, loose teeth, exceptionally bad breath, or trouble picking up toys or food by mouth. You may also see bloody saliva, as well as bumps in the mouth.

There’s much to be done to prevent periodontal disease from occurring in the first place. You should take your dog in for regular teeth cleanings, feed your dog high-quality food, and make sure that the toys you give your dog are safe for chewing. If the disease has already progressed, it’s most important to help your dog manage his pain, which can be done using cannabinoids.

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Slipped Disc

A slipped disc is a condition that happens when the discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column bulge, or even burst, into the spinal cord space. When the vertebrae burst, this is known as disc herniation.

In smaller dog breeds, such as Dachshund and Shih Tzus, a slipped disc may occur in the next area. When the dog jumps or lands, the discs can slip or burst. Sometimes, a slipped disc can occur over an extended period, simply because the discs get hardened with time.

A slipped or herniated disc will cause substantial neck and back pain in your dog, and may even result in paralysis. When a slip occurs, you may notice that your dog arches his back or doesn’t want to turn his neck. If you notice that your dog is having issues walking, they may be suffering from a slipped disc.

To treat a slipped disc, veterinarians usually recommend that the dog is confined to a very small area so they are not able to move substantially, limiting the amount of damage they can do. In these cases, anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce inflammation and pain. If a slipped disc occurs frequently in your dog, surgery may also be an option.

Ear Infection

Ear infections are very common in dogs, and can be very painful. These infections are usually caused by bacteria, yeast, ear mites, allergies, or even foreign bodies within the ear.

If your dog is suffering from an ear infection, you may see that the dog:

  • Scratches the ear or area near the ear
  • Has a discharge coming from the ear
  • Has redness, swelling, or scabs in or near the ear
  • Shakes head, or tilts head, more often than usual
  • Has trouble staying balanced
  • Has trouble hearing

There are many causes of ear infections in dogs, but dogs with floppy ears may be more prone to developing infections. Veterinarians can easily tell if a dog has an ear infection by examining the ear canal. If the dog has an ear infection, the veterinarian will prescribe medicate for pain, and antibiotics if the infection is bacterial.

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Cystitis

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, most often caused by a bacterial infection. Cystitis occurs when bacteria gets into the bladder, most commonly through the urethra. In males, bacteria can get into the bladder through the prostate gland. In females, it can enter through the vagina.

Some dogs are more prone to cystitis than others. If a dog has diabetes or Cushing’s Disease or has been taking steroids for another condition, then they may be more likely to get cystitis. Additionally, bladder stones and tumors can also make dogs susceptible to cystitis.

If your dog is suffering from cystitis, you may notice that they are having trouble urinating, and are urinating more than usual. Dogs that have bladder stones or tumors may have other symptoms, such as bleeding.

Veterinarians can administer many tests to see if your dog has cystitis. They will take a urine culture, and examine the dog with their hands, to learn the cause of the discomfort. Treatment for cystitis depends on what causes it. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, whereas bladder stones and tumors may need surgical removal. Additionally, cannabinoids can be administered to help your dog cope with the pain.

Peritonitis

Peritonitis occurs when a dog’s abdominal cavity is injured and the peritoneum (membrane lining the cavity) becomes inflamed. This condition can be caused by injury or bacterial/chemical contamination through abdominal trauma, surgical wounds, rupture of the bladder, and liver abscesses.

If you think your dog may of experienced an abdominal injury, it is important to look for these signs:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal pain – pet retracts when touched on abdomen
  • Low blood pressure

In order to treat peritonitis, the veterinarian will perform a physical exam and take an ultrasound to see if there is any free fluid in the abdomen. If fluid is detected, your dog should be hospitalized in the intensive care unit and be put on a strict low sodium diet. Surgery may be required if your dog has bacterial or chemical peritonitis. If so, your dog needs time to recover from the trauma in a quite and safe environment. Peritonitis is a serious matter and should be treated right away, and a dietary change is the first step in recovery. Canna-Pet’s hemp supplements and biscuits are a useful addition to your pet’s new diet plan.

veterinary giving the vaccine to the ivory labrador dog

Closing Thoughts on Dog Pain

If you think that your dog may be in pain or notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some conditions may not be severe, while others may lead to surgery. Knowing the signs and symptoms of these internal health issues will help you to understand what the problem is and how to treat your pet’s medical needs.

When your pet is in pain, one of the best things you can do is to keep him or her as comfortable as possible. Many pet parents are choosing cannabinoids over traditional anti-inflammatories like steroids because of negative side effects. Cannabinoids (like CBD) are naturally occurring compounds present in plants, cultivated for thousands of years because they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Canna-Pet produces veterinary-recommended, over-the- counter nutritional products for your pets including dogs, cats, and horses. Developed in a collaboration of scientists, medical researchers, and veterinarians, Canna-Pet is the first and only complete cannabinoid and terpene product designed specifically for cats and dogs. Now available from select veterinary clinics and pet product retailers.

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