How to Tell If Your Dog Is in Pain

How to Tell If Your Dog Is in Pain

Photo by angela n. / CC BY 2.0

Note: This is NOT a paid or compensated review, but a review of a book that I purchased for my own use. I enjoy sharing information about products or books you may like or find useful and you’ll always receive my honest and unbiased opinion.

Whether you have a young pup or your best friend is growing into their senior years, it’s important to know the signs to look for when your dog is in pain. After all, unless they’re yelping, whining or holding up a limb from acute pain, they can’t easily express how they feel and we often overlook the symptoms from the onset of chronic pain.

I recently read the book, Dr. Petty’s Pain Relief for Dogs by Dr. Michael Petty, DVM and it was so helpful and well written, I just have to share it with you. Since Haley’s a senior dog that’s gone through a ruptured CCL knee surgery and a few other minor surgeries, I know all about acute pain, but I failed to notice some of the gradual changes in her behavior related to her arthritis.

15 Signs Your Dog Is in Pain

Here are the 15 signs of pain that Dr. Petty lists in his book. I’ve noticed that Haley has six of the 15 symptoms.

Haley’s Checklist – 15 Signs of Pain
Reluctance to walk on slippery surfaces
Reluctance or refusal to go up and down stairs
Becomes selective about what to jump up onto or down from
Stands up using the front legs first
Pronounced circling or taking time to lie down
Running and jumping activities become more limited
Places an abnormal amount of weight on the front legs
Abnormal wear on toenails from scuffing
Unwillingness to initiate play or other social interactions
Aggression toward other animals where none existed before
Aversion to being petted or brushed
Disruption in sleep patterns
Stiffness after resting
Decreased appetite
House soiling or reluctance to go outside

Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that our dogs get older and they’re going to experience some pain along the way. But after reading Dr. Petty’s book, I feel much more prepared to help Haley going forward. I never realized there were so many different options to help manage her chronic arthritis pain and to keep her active so she can continue to enjoy all of her favorite activities.

The book covers the difference between acute and chronic pain and various causes of pain, but I especially enjoyed learning about the topics below.

Interesting Topics in Dr. Petty’s Book

  • How dogs, as pack animals, deal with pain or may even hide their pain
  • How pain signals move from the source to the brain and which pain treatments target various points along that pathway
  • Explanations (along with pros and cons) of the most common medications used to treat pain
  • How itching is similar to pain and the medications and therapies used to treat it
  • How acupuncture works and how it targets different types of pain
  • How dogs can benefit from the use of prosthetics and orthotics
  • Analyzing and contrasting the wide range of physical therapy treatments
  • Joint injections, from corticosteroids to stem-cell therapy and more
  • Advice about diet and nutraceuticals, including what works and what doesn’t seem to work.
  • Herbal supplements that can be effective in relieving pain
  • How shockwave therapy can be used in the treatment of pain
  • Stretching exercises you can do at home with your dog and the benefits of massage therapy
  • Practical tips you can use for your dog, around your home and in your vehicle to make life easier for you and your pup.

I also appreciated the chapter on which pain therapies to avoid as well as new pain management techniques to watch for in the near future. Dr. Petty also covers the pros and cons of bringing another pet into the home.

Here’s What I Love the Most About This Book!

We’re all busy these days and most people don’t have the time or patience to read an overly-technical book written by a veterinarian on the topic of pain. I know my eyes would probably glaze over before the end of the first chapter. Dr. Petty’s book is different. It gives you exactly what you’re looking for. He shares his vast knowledge and experience on the topic of pain in an easy to digest format with practical ideas and options to fit everyone’s budget. I’m so thankful that I was able to absorb all this knowledge quickly and to gain a better understanding of the vast options that are available for managing Haley’s arthritis pain. I’m also much more optimistic about keeping her healthy and active!

Senior Dog

Photo by Anja Pietsch / CC BY 2.0

If you have a senior dog or if you’ve noticed any signs from the checklist that your dog is in pain, check out Dr. Petty’s Pain Relief for Dogs to learn what treatments might be beneficial for your dog. I’d also love to hear your insight and advice if you’ve had a dog with arthritis or chronic pain. Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

BlogPaw's Wordless Wednesday

Help! My Dog Gets Too Excited


My Dog Gets Too ExcitedDo you prefer energetic dogs or laid-back, calm dogs? I like spirited dogs. It’s entertaining to watch them get worked up and go a little crazy sometimes while playing, but there’s a downside to all that energy if a dog gets too excited too often. Here’s why!

When Excitement is a Bad Thing

  • Overly-excited dogs aren’t able to focus or listen to commands. It’s almost impossible to get their attention once they reach a high level of excitement.
  • It’s easy to mistake excitement for happiness, but too much excitement can lead to anxiety or unhealthy obsessions, like those pooches that chase tennis balls or laser lights to the point of exhaustion.
  • When your pup nearly knocks down your guests with his over-enthusiastic greeting, it’s pretty annoying.
  • A socially anxious dog that greets another dog with excitement, often receives an aggressive response which can also trigger the excited dog to become reactive to other dogs.
  • Too much excitement when heading out for a walk may result in a dog that bolts through the door and pulls excessively on the leash.
  • Excitement releases stress hormones into your pup’s bloodstream. High levels of these hormones over time could have an adverse impact on your dog’s overall health.
  • For some dogs, the adrenaline from excitement can become addictive, leading to more hyperactive behavior.

What Causes Overexcitement?

Excited Dog
    Overexcitement can be an inherited trait or an environmental (learned) behavior. Sometimes it’s a combination of both. Hyper behavior can also be caused by excess energy and a lack of exercise or mental stimulation.

    Since there are different causes of overexcitement and every dog is unique, you may need to experiment with different solutions to discover what helps your pup relax. Here are some tips to calm the canine chaos at your house.

    10 Tips If Your Dog Gets Too Excited

    1. Stay calm.
    If you’re a high-energy or anxious person, take a deep breath and practice being calm around your dog. Dogs react to our tone of voice and body language and it’s easy to get them excited and reactive to how we speak and behave.
    2. Look for triggers.
    Notice what triggers your dog’s excitement by observing their body language. You’ll notice they become alert, then fixated with a high level of intensity. They may even whine or bark in a high-pitched tone.
    3. Catch it early.
    Avoid a full-blown case of overexcitement by catching those changes in your dog’s behavior early before they escalate to the point of being out of control and while you still have the ability to communicate with them.
    4. Train an alternate behavior.
    Tell your dog what you want him to do instead of the unwanted behavior. For example, Haley used to get way too excited when greeting other dogs, so I used her favorite treats to train her to sit and look at me instead of pulling towards other dogs. I started at a distance, then slowly worked closer to the other dogs so Haley could practice her self-control.
    5. Exercise your pup.
    Walking Your DogSome dogs are hyper because they have excess energy to burn. I remember trying to teach Haley to walk nicely on the leash, but it was almost impossible because she had too much energy to even focus on me. A play session before walking made training much easier and kept me from getting so aggravated with her pulling on the leash.
    6. Provide mental stimulation.
    Try channeling your dog’s excitement by using interactive food toys or puzzles. Most dogs like having a job, so work on training some new commands or get your pup involved in a dog sport like agility, flyball or nose work.
    7. Ignore bad behavior.
    In some cases, ignoring the excitable behavior is the best option. For example, when you come home or when guests arrive at your house, ignore your dog’s exuberant greeting until he calms down. Don’t accidentally reward unwanted behaviors.
    8. Give your dog a timeout.
    Train your dog on the Place command which teaches them to lie down and settle calmly in a certain spot. This is useful if your dog gets worked up or barks a lot when the doorbell rings. It helps train them to relax and have self-control. I still give Haley an occasional timeout if she gets pushy about wanting treats or playing.
    9. Cut back on obsessive behaviors.
    Dog with FrisbeeThis one is for those frisbee, laser light or tennis ball obsessed dogs. If your pup’s still hyper after all that playtime, their obsession could be causing excessive excitement. Cut back on those activities and mix it up with other forms of play or exercise. Haley gets this way over inflatable beach balls and balloons.
    10. Hold your dog.
    In rare cases, a dog might need to learn how to unwind and calm down. If you’ve tried everything else and can’t get your pup to settle down, hold them firmly until they relax. They may squirm and wrestle a little bit, but they should soon give up and let go of the excess energy. Once they relax, give them a massage or belly rub as a reward.

    Haley’s always been a high-energy and somewhat excitable dog by nature and there are still occasions when she goes a little over the top and needs a timeout. When she was younger, I remember getting so frustrated with her at times because I didn’t understand how big a role excitement played in managing her behavior. I still work with her on greeting other dogs in a relaxed state, but she’s come a long way since those early days.

    How do you handle it when your dog gets too excited? I’d love to hear what tips and tricks work for you. Share them in the comment section below! Help! My Dog Get Too Excited

    10 Tips for Dog Swimming Events


    10 Tips for Dog Swimming EventsThe dog days of summer have never been more fun! It’s that time of year when community pools start holding their end-of-season dog swimming events. These doggie swims are getting more popular and one of our local pools even turned their annual event into a festival with free goodie bags, vendors, contests and an adoptable dog parade. Plus, they donate a portion of their admission fees to support local rescue groups. It doesn’t get any better than that!

    Even if you’re lucky enough to have your own pool, these events are a great opportunity to mingle with other canine-loving people while your dog socializes and plays with new pool pals. It’s amusing to watch so many dogs splash and romp around together, so get your pup ready to have some fun in the sun with these tips!

    10 Tips for Dog Swimming Events

    1. Check the rules.
    Call or check your pool’s website for any rules you need to observe. Most require your dog to be licensed and current on their vaccinations. Some pools may require a vaccination record.
    2. Remember the sunscreen.
    If you’re at the pool during those hours of the day when the sun is intense, protect your pup with sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen made for dogs or babies and one that doesn’t contain zinc oxide. Dogs with pink noses and skin, shaved dogs and dogs with light-colored coats especially need protection from the sun.
    3. Be a kind swim instructor.
    Visit pools that allow you to at least wade in the water with your dog. If your dog’s new to swimming, don’t throw them into the pool and expect their instincts to kick in. Instead, lead them in from the shallow end or steps and allow them time to adjust to the water. Support your dog under their belly while they gain confidence with their doggie paddling skills. Some dogs prefer to just walk and splash around in the shallow end and that’s fine too.
    Teaching a Dog to Swim
    4. Show your dog how to get out of the pool.
    Lead your dog to the shallow end or steps several times so they know how to get out of the pool. Dogs may panic if they’re tired and want to get out, but forget where the steps are or they may injure themselves while trying to climb a vertical pool wall.
    5. Consider buying a life jacket.
    Dog Wearing Life JacketSome dogs are better swimmers than others and even those webbed-toed canines might enjoy wearing a life jacket once in a while. Dogs with short legs or short noses tend to have trouble swimming and will appreciate the extra buoyancy from a life jacket.
    6. Be watchful.
    Swimming is a strenuous activity and it’s especially important to be watchful of older and obese dogs to make sure they don’t overdo it and become exhausted. If you notice your dog is mostly vertical in the water with their rear end downward (instead of their body being horizontal with all four legs paddling), they’re probably having some trouble swimming or they’re getting tired.
    7. Check those paws.
    The rough concrete around pools can take a toll on your dog’s paw pads after a while. Check them occasionally for cuts or abrasions. I’ve also heard of dogs getting their toenails caught in the small drainage holes running along the top edge of some pools.
    8. Got toys?
    Dog Swimming With Tennis BallTennis balls are a favorite toy at doggie pool parties, so be prepared to share. I usually observe a few people trying to chase down another person’s dog who swiped their pup’s toy. It happens, so it’s best to leave your dog’s favorite toys at home and don’t sweat it if a toy gets lost.
    9. Take fresh drinking water.
    Most pools will provide drinking water for dogs, but I always take a few bottles of fresh water and a collapsible bowl, just in case. Haley’s kind of a water snob and she doesn’t care for sharing community water bowls. I don’t want her to drink chlorinated pool water if she gets really thirsty.
    10. Rinse and dry your pup.
    Bathe or rinse your dog with clean water to remove any chorine or pool chemicals and be sure to dry their ears well to avoid ear infections.
    Drying Off a Dog
    Don’t let these last few days of summer slip by without making plans to hang out beside the pool with your best friend! Contact your local swimming pools today and find out if they’re planning a dog swimming event soon.

    Have you ever attended an event like this with your dog? Did they enjoy it? 10 Tips for Dog Swimming Events

    Get Inspired With Prisma!


    Get Inspired With Prisma

    Have you tried Prisma yet? My daughter-in-law, Colleen, showed me the app a few weeks ago and I’ve fallen in love with all of the amazingly creative effects this free app can generate from the pictures on my phone. I have to warn you though, it’s addictive!

    I’m just starting to experiment with using real paint and brushes on canvas, but Haley’s been creating nose art on our windows for nearly ten years. Together, we’ve come up with our five favorite effects you’ll find in Prisma.

    Click the tabs above each image to view each effect’s before and after images.


    Dog Without Prisma Femme Effect
    Dog With Prisma Femme Effect

    Transverse Line

    Dog Without Prisma Transverse Line Effect
    Dog With Prisma Transverse Line Effect


    Dog Without Prisma Tokyo Effect
    Dog With Prisma Tokyo Effect


    Dog Without Prisma Candy Effect
    Dog With Prisma Candy Effect


    Dog Without Prisma Mosaic Effect
    Dog With Prisma Mosaic Effect

    Who’s this, you ask? Meet Murphy! He’s my sister’s soft-coated wheaten terrier and the newest member of our family’s canine crew.💗


    Buzz from K9s Over CoffeeThis is one of my favorite blogger pups, Buzz from K9s Over Coffee. Thanks Barbara for sharing this creative split image. I love it! 😃

    Ok, now it’s your turn! It’s fun and it’s free, so get the right side of your brain working on your Picasso pup or pet. Download the app, create your favorite Prisma dog art, then upload your image in the comment section below. Tell us which effect you used and we’ll display your masterpiece here on the page. Get Inspired With Prisma

    Treating Ear Infections in Dogs

    Treating Ear Infections in Dogs

    Photo by Matt Salas / CC BY 2.0

    Ear infections are one of the most common problems vets see in their offices. Yep, we’ve been down that road several times with Haley. It begins with the ear scratching, then the frequent flapping noise when she shakes her head, and of course, there’s the yucky smell emanating from her ears. So many dogs suffer with these symptoms, but what causes ear infections in dogs?

    What Causes Ear Infections?

    Most infections are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast inside the ear canal. Dogs with floppy ears or excess hair in their ears are especially prone to infections because their ears tend to be dark and moist with very little air flow. Ear mites or foreign objects (like foxtails or grass seeds) inside the ear can also cause an infection. Dogs with allergies or hypothyroidism often have chronic ear infections.

    Symptoms Your Dog May Have an Ear Infection

    Your pup will usually let you know if there’s an issue with their ears. They’ll frequently scratch their ears and you may notice an unusual odor or their ears might feel warm to the touch. Head shaking or a tilted head are other signs that you should take a closer look. Healthy ears look fairly clean inside, but a yellow, brown or bloody discharge or redness and swelling inside the ears or on the ear flaps signal a problem. Dogs with an advanced infection may have crusts or scabs inside their ears from scratching and the outer ear might be thickened or have a leathery appearance. They may even walk in circles, have balance issues or experience some hearing loss.

    Treating Ear Infections in Dogs

    There’s no shortage of over-the-counter products and natural remedies for treating ear infections in dogs, but you should always begin with a visit to your vet. It’s important to start with an accurate diagnosis of the cause of the infection before attempting to treat it. Your vet will use an otoscope to examine the ear and then perform a swab test to determine whether the underlying problem is related to bacteria, yeast, parasites or another issue. Medication and treatment options can then target the specific cause of infection. It’s also important to note that chronic ear infections are often a symptom of a larger or systemic issue, such as allergies or hypothyroidism, which may require a change in your dog’s diet or environment.

    What Works for Haley’s Chronic Ear Infections

    Haley suffered with ear infections for many years until we figured out a few things. After our first vet misdiagnosed her infections as ear mites a few times, we sought out a new vet who determined she actually had a yeast infection. That explained the brown, waxy debris I was cleaning out of her ears and why I never saw the telltale signs of ear mites, which resemble coffee grounds. Regularly cleaning her ears using cotton balls and a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar along with eliminating grains and excess sugar from her diet keeps her ears pretty healthy. On the few occasions when she’s required treatment from our vet, we’ve had great luck with BNT Otic. BNT is a thick, waxy medication that contains an antibiotic (enrofloxacin), an antifungal (ketoconazole), and an anti-inflammatory (triamcinolone). It’s infused into the ear and continuously treats the infection for two weeks.

    Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, here are some tips that might prevent a painful infection and save you some time and money at the vet’s office.

    Tips for Preventing Ear Infections

    • Do a quick check of your dog’s ears each week to look for signs of infection. You can often prevent a full-blown infection if you catch it early.
    • Unless your vet recommends regular flushing of your dog’s ears, leave them alone if they look clean and healthy.
    • Place a cotton ball in each of your dog’s ears before giving them a bath to avoid getting excess water in their ear canals.
    • Dry your pup’s ears thoroughly after baths or swimming. If your dog swims often, ask your vet to recommend a drying agent solution to use after swimming.
    • If your dog has excess hair in their ears, have a groomer show you how to remove or trim the excess hair for better air circulation.
    • If your dog’s ears are dirty, use a cotton ball moistened with an ear cleaning solution, such as Epi-Otic to gently wipe away dirt or wax from the outer ear. Even though a dog’s L-shaped ear canal makes it unlikely that you’ll damage an ear drum while using cotton swabs, they should be avoided because they tend to push debris further down inside the ear.
    • If your dog suffers from chronic ear infections, talk to your vet or a holistic vet about environmental and dietary changes that might be beneficial. I don’t know of any studies on this, but many dog owners claim to have eliminated allergy and ear infection issues after switching their dogs to a raw diet.
    Dog With Hairy Ears

    Photo by Bill Harrison / CC BY 2.0

    Ear infections are one of the most common aliments treated by vets and recurring infections can be frustrating for dogs and owners alike. It’s normal for dogs to occasionally scratch their ears, but if you’re noticing frequent scratching or any of the other symptoms mentioned earlier, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet. Infections can be painful and if left untreated, they can cause permanent damage or hearing loss.

    If you have any experience with this, I’d love to hear your best treatments or strategies for dealing with ear infections in dogs. Treating Ear Infections in Dogs