Rebecca Goodman
By Rebecca Goodman
Financial Expert
Updated 08 May 2024
|Read time: 4 mins

As the old saying goes, never Google your symptoms. Passed down from generation to generation, we all know by now that no good can come of it. But what about Googling your pet’s symptoms? 

It can be difficult to spot the signs your dog is in pain, because they can’t tell us what’s wrong. In some cases, it might be something small, such as if your dog is eating less or doesn’t seem quite so excited about walks anymore. But in other cases, the pain can be more obvious like with a limp or a sore, painful area.

Either way it’s important to recognise when things don’t seem right and to seek the most appropriate treatment to get them back to their usual happy self.

How do I know if my dog is in pain?

It can be hard for us owners to know when something isn’t right. Even though your dog can’t talk, they can communicate in lots of other ways, and it’s best to be alert for any signs they're in pain. We split these into behaviour and physical (or mobility) signs:

Behaviour signs:

  • Barking, crying or any different sounds they’re making

  • Aggression

  • Reluctance to play games

  • Refusing to sleep, or a change in sleeping patterns

  • Repeatedly licking a certain area

  • Not wanting to be stroked or touched

  • Physical signs:

  • Panting

  • Limping or not using one leg or paw

  • Holding their head down between their shoulders

  • Shaking or trembling

  • Redness, heat, or swelling in an area

  • Problems with lying down or movement in general

  • Refusing to walk or having obvious problems when moving

  • Repetitive movements or twitching

Some problems may occur at certain times of the day, such as first thing or last thing at night. If you notice a recurring pain, it'll be helpful to note down when it happens or if anything accompanies it. Does it happen after your dog has eaten, for example, or after a long walk? This information will help a vet to detect what is wrong so they can work out the best treatment for your dog.

What can cause a dog to be in pain?

There are lots of reasons why a dog may be in pain. It could be something small which is easily treated or a longer-term issue. 

If the pain is a result of a one-off incident, such as an accident, it could be an acute pain. If it’s something you notice has gone on for a while, it could be something chronic, such as arthritis. Most issues can be treated by a vet who will also be able to give advice on the best form of care.

How can I help my dog if it’s in pain?

If you spot any signs that your dog is in pain, you should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Sometimes it could be something minor and easily sorted. Visiting a vet as soon as possible could help prevent further issues.

A vet will be able to treat your dog and also give you advice on the best way to care for them. Advice will depend on your dog and the type of pain they’re in, like avoiding certain foods or even taking a break from walks until they’re healed.

Can pet insurance help with the costs?

Unlike with humans, there’s no NHS for vets and any treatment or appointments need to be paid for. The costs vary and you should be aware of costs in advance of any treatment carried out.

If you have pet insurance for your dog, your veterinary fees can be covered, up to a certain limit each year. This could provide peace of mind and there may be added extras too. 

With John Lewis Pet Insurance, for example, customers get access to a 24/7 vetfone™ helpline. This means they can speak to a vet at any time of the day or night. 

You can also choose the cover amount you want, providing a little extra flexibility in managing your costs.

Looking for pet insurance for your furry friend?

Insure your pet today by calling us on 0330 102 2490 or get a quote online. We may record or monitor calls, and charges may vary.

This article is for promotional or information purposes only. You must not rely on it as advice. Please contact a financial adviser if you need advice before you buy a financial product or service.

Pet insurance guides

Our pets bring so much joy to our lives, but this doesn’t mean we stop worrying about them.

It’s important that your pet has a regular vet check to keep them fit and healthy, and to give you peace of mind.

With Pet Insurance from John Lewis Finance you can call vetfone™ 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

John Lewis Finance and John Lewis Insurance are trading names of John Lewis plc. The John Lewis Registered office address is: 171 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5NN. Registered in England and Wales no. 233462. John Lewis plc is an appointed representative (Financial Conduct Authority number 416011) of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Ltd. John Lewis Pet Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Ltd (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202323).

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