Expert warns of subtle sign your dog is in pain that’s often missed by owners

Adorable footage shows guide dog puppies in training being put through their paces


  • Facial expressions
  • Chewing and licking paws
  • Yawning
  • Behavioural changes and mobility issues
  • A dog expert has warned people that their pet pooch may be trying to “disguise” debilitating pain. While they are known as some of the most expressive animals, they are secretly “masters” at concealing their emotions. An animal behaviourist has warned people to closely study their furry friends for the subtle signs they are unwell.

    Speaking to the The Mirror, Anna Webb said owners commonly miss signs that their dogs are in pain.

    Uncomfortable or pained pets won’t always indicate their issues clearly – at least for humans.

    Ms Webb said that people must observe their pets and get to know their “dog language” over time.

    She outlined several behaviours that, on the surface, may not be obvious indicators but should prompt a visit to the vet.

    Facial expressions

    Dogs have expressive faces, with owners usually able to pinpoint when their canine companions are happy, sad or hungry.

    But their negative emotional spectrum is less obvious, and often indicated on their mouths.

    Dogs licking their lips or them trembling more often can be a sign of potential pain.

    Panting when it isn’t hot may suggest stress, while breaking and avoiding eye contact is another red flag.

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    Chewing and licking paws

    Dogs may also focus on their paws when they feel stress or anxiety, chewing or licking compulsively.

    Most commonly, the behaviours may suggest allergies or a reaction to chemical irritants.

    Otherwise, it could be a sign that they are experiencing paw pain. 

    Common paw injuries include scratches to the surface of their paw pads, or arthritic pain in older dogs. 


    Dog owners will note that, even when they are exhausted after a long walk or day out, their companions rarely yawn.

    While the behaviour can indicate sleepiness, this is one of a variety of potential meanings.

    Experts have noted that dogs will often yawn to regulate their stress levels.

    They tend to do so more often when they experience, fear, anxiety or other discomfort.

    Behavioural changes and mobility issues

    Dogs will behave differently when in pain, which may manifest in the way they move and act with their owners.

    Animals in physical pain may struggle to walk, or have a hunched back, low tail and pinned back ears.

    They may also become more picky with their food or spend more time alone in bed. 

    On the other end of the spectrum, some dogs become more needy, vocal or sensitive when feeling unwell.

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