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Signs that a Pug is in Pain

Question: What are the signs that a Pug is experiencing pain? For example, according to the vet, Sophie has an abscessed tooth. She doesn't seem to be in pain, but I'm assuming it hurts. Do dogs feel the same as us humans? Owner: Arlette, Pug dog: Sophie

Answer: Hi Arlette, we want to thank you for bringing up this question because it is very important for Pug owners to understand the answer.

A human feels because of sensors in the brain. Nerves, called nocieptive nerves, sense stimuli and transmit that down into the nervous system which causes one to feel physical discomfort or pain. Canines have this exact same process in their bodies. Dogs have both the nocieptive nerves and the same type of nervous system.
Therefore, medical science has proven that canines do feel pain in the same way that humans do. The difference between humans and dogs is how they show a reaction. It's always a good idea for owners to know the signs that a Pug is experiencing discomfort so that steps can be taken to either diagnose a health issue or for those already being treated, let the veterinarian know that a Pug is having discomfort.
How to Know if a Pug is in Pain: 

Being vocal - A Pug may make more grunting noises than normal and/or let out whines and whimpers. If the pain escalates when the dog is moved/picked up, he may let out a loud yelp when manipulated a certain way.

Changes eating habits- When dogs are experiencing discomfort, the daily routine is often disrupted. Depending on the level of pain a Pug may be a substantial decrease in appetite. Even when lured with his favorite foods, he may not want to eat at all. While this is very common with any sort of tooth pain, it is also a signs of illness, disease and injury.

Changes in sleep patterns - When sick or in pain, a Pug may sleep much more than usual or he may have trouble sleeping - napping in fits and waking often.

Restlessness - Some injuries and illness may cause a Pug to become restless. With certain issues such as an upset stomach or stomach blockage a Pug may become panicked. Dogs may repetitively rise and lie down when in pain. They may circle or pace back and forth. So, while resting more can be a sign, the opposite symptom of not being able to comfortably rest is a symptom as well.

Behavioral changes - A Pug dog will often do one of two things when in pain and he may flip-flop back and forth between the two depending on how much pain he is feeling at the time: He may retreat or he may become clingy. The reason that dogs may retreat when feeling pain is because it makes them feel vulnerable; canine instinct tells them to retreat to a safe area. On the other hand, a Pug - having such a strong bond with his humans - can become very clingy. He will stay closer to you than normal, shadow you around, want to curl up next to you and enjoy pats and strokes to the coat more than usual.

Reluctance to exercise - Especially if a Pug is having leg, back or hip problems, he will be reluctant to go for his walks and may have very little enthusiasm to play. In some cases, pain can be very wearing on the body, which causes a dog to simply be too tired to walk and run around as normal.

'Wound licking' - Canines have an instinct to lick at and tend to wounds. If a Pug is suddenly paying attention to a particular body area, such as excessively licking a paw, this can point to some sort of injury.

Abnormal posture - A Pug may adapt a hunched over posture when standing and/or may sit at an angle, as the body reacts to pain. This is often seen with stomach problems, but may also be seen with hip or back pain. Of course, limping or favoring any part of the body is a clear sign that something is wrong.

Aggression - The Pug is just about the friendliest breed on the planet and aggression is a trait that is rarely seen. However, extreme pain can cause an aggressive reaction if the Pug is touched where the pain is radiating from or if he is suffering and feels threatened if someone approaches too close.

Changes in breathing - With moderate to severe pain, a Pug may have very shallow breathing or may pant very heavily even if not active.

Pain Medication for Pugs

Many owners wonder what kind of pain medication is given to Pugs. The most common medication given to dogs for pain are NSAIDs which stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Though these differ from NSAIDs that humans take. NSAIDs for canines include:
  • Carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl)
  • Meloxicam (Metacam )
  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • Etodolac (Etogesic)
  • Firocoxib (Previcox)
  • Tepoxalin ( Zubrin)
  • Coated aspirin- While this is an OTC medication for pain, owners should check with the Pug's veterinarian for proper dosing instructions.
If a Pug is experiencing a high pain level, other stronger medication may be prescribed including:
  • Amantadine
  • Gabapentin
  • Tramadol  
Caring for a Pug that is in Pain

The best thing you can do is carefully follow the advice of your Pug's veterinarian in regard to care and pain control. Though if you feel that current medications are not working, be sure to speak up.  Also:

1) Follow proper dosing instructions for any medication

2) Limit exercise and allow your Pug to rest as needed

3) Watch for any new or worsening symptoms

4) Ask you vet about hot or cold compresses; these can often be a good source of pain relief for localized issues  
Did you find this article helpful? If so, you'll love The GIANT Book of Pug Care (available in both hard copy & eBook)
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