Syringomyelia Awareness: How to Tell if Your Dog Is In Pain

Dogs feel pain for many of the same reasons as humans: infections, dental problems, arthritis, bone disease and cancer. They also feel discomfort following surgical procedures. Unfortunately, unlike humans, they are unable to speak to us about when and where they hurt. You are in the best position to look for the subtle changes in behavior that may indicate your pet is suffering. It’s important to stay alert to these signs, because the sooner your dog’s pain is diagnosed and treated, the sooner he or she can heal and resume a normal, happy life.

If your dog shows one or more of these behaviors and you suspect it may be due to pain, notify your veterinarian immediately.

• Whining
• Howling
• Whimpering
• Yelping
• Groaning
• Grunting

• Decreased appetite
• Withdraws from social interaction
• Changes in sleeping or drinking
• Lapses in house-training
• Sleeps more

• Licking
• Biting
• Scratching a particular part of its body

• Restless
• Reluctant to move
• Difficulty getting up from a laying position
• Repetitively gets up and lies down
• Trembling, circling or lying very still
• Seeks more affection than usual

• Grimaces, vacant stare
• Glazed, wide-eyed or looks sleepy
• Enlarged pupils
• Flattened ears
• Pants excessively when at rest
• Coat lacks normal shine
• Hair stands up in places

• Protects a body part
• Doesn’t put weight on a limb
• Limps
• Doesn’t want to be held or picked up
• Hides

especially a previously friendly dog
• Acts out of character
• Growls, hisses, bites
• Pins ears back
• A normally aggressive dog may
act quiet, docile

• Hunched, with hindquarters raised and front end down on the ground
• Lays on its side

Thanks to AAHA for this fantastic handout about what pain can look like in your pet. This is a great tool not just for those suffering from SM / CM but for all dog and cat owners to keep around. To print out the full version for placement in your home please visit:

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  1. Wow, this is excellent information for all dog and cat owners. Thanks for this post and the link! from Cathy Moon

  2. This is great information! Thanks

  3. Hi! I have a blog in portuguese about pets. Could I translate your post about this ugly desease and post it in my blog? I think it's very clear and very useful.

  4. Felissa Hadas says

    Rosa and everyone else. Feel free to cross post all the information as long as you site the source where it came from as well as the writer of the articles.

  5. Thanks for sharing this advice! I had no idea that syringomyelia could be so devastating for dogs! I’ll definitely watch out for any symptoms with my little King Cavalier. It would be awful if she were in pain and I had no idea how to help!

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