What is pain ?

Pain is defined by the association for the study of pain (ASP) as an “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage”. 

Impact of pain

Pain isn’t just a physical sensation, it can have emotional effects too.The relationship between pain and behaviour is bi-directional. Stress in the form of frustration, fear or anxiety can cause a negative outlook that increases the perception of pain, or pain itself can increase frustration, anxiety, fears and aggressive behaviour.

Pain and discomfort can affect behaviour in the following ways:
1. it can be the direct cause of undesired behaviour,
2. it can exacerbate current behavioural concerns,
3. it can cause secondary behavioural issues in addition to existing behavioural issues,
4. it can cause behaviours that are not necessarily undesired, however it is clear that the dog is experiencing pain.

Pain and discomfort can be contributing to, aggravate, or be the underlying motivation to many behavioural concerns such as, but not limited to:

– aggression,
– fear,
– anxiety,
– sound sensitivities,
– ‘hyper’ behaviours,
– destruction,
– separation distress,
– pulling on the lead,
– eating non-food items,
– difficulty learning new skills
– ‘clingy’ and persistent ‘attention-seeking’ behaviours,
– resource guarding objects, food, locations or people,
– aloofness,
– licking and nibbling themselves,
– reactivity towards strangers and other dogs on walks,
– reluctance to comply to cues,
– compulsive behaviours,
– unable to settle during car travel,
– unable to rest after a walk or vigorous play session,
– an increase in breed specific behaviours to the point that it becomes problematic or dangerous.

Why do a Dynamic Dog Assessment  ?

Unless your dog is clearly limping, vocalizing, becoming withdrawn, not participating in favourite activities anymore, have changes in appetite or sleeping cycles, pain can be quite difficult to spot. Pain symptoms are often subtle, even more so if pain has been chronic. Dogs are expert adapters and do not always communicate their pain in an obvious way, therefor you might be totally unaware that your dog is in discomfort or suffering silently.  

If your friends did not have language to tell you that they have an ailment, you might be unaware that they have chronic issues. In animals, small physical adaptations and over compensations can be extremely understated and thus difficult to detect in real time with the naked eye. By the time your dog is limping or showing other overt signs of pain, he might already be experiencing 6/10 on the pain scale.

When addressing any unwanted behaviour and I suspect there might be pain or discomfort present, it must be addressed first. Not only to bring relief for your dog, but it will also affect the progress of the behaviour modification plan.

Experiencing pain – even something as mild as teething – can contribute to the expression of behaviour, and most notably with aggressive behaviour, as pain prevents the communication between the two brain areas that are essential for the ensuring that any behavioural expression is proportional to the situation.

Most dogs who visit the vet’s office are anxious, scared and overwhelmed and may not display vulnerabilities in a strange environment. They are highly aroused and thus adrenalized, and we know that adrenaline, cortisol and endorphins masks pain, even when physically manipulated and examined, which makes it very difficult to notice small adaptations.

For a Dynamic Dog assessment, videos and photos are taken from different angles of your dog in their home environment where they feel more relaxed and secure. We will record (and then analyse) your dog’s structure and posture, how he moves and organises himself from one position to another, how he sits, stands, lie down, how he moves at different speeds (gaits) on different types of surfaces, how he navigates himself whilst doing everyday life activities. All my findings are then relayed to your veterinarian for further investigation and diagnoses.

With veterinary advances in diagnostics, anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications, supplements and complimentary therapies, such as physiotherapy, laser & thermal therapy, electrotherapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, hydro, underwater treadmill, kinesiology taping, acupuncture, myofascial massage, and therapeutic exercises etc, there should be no reason as to a why a dog should experience pain or discomfort.

If something is small enough to notice, it is big enough to be investigated further.

Process of a Dynamic Dog Assessment 

 – 90+ min Q & A session
 – Gather videos and photos of your dog
 – Review your dog’s veterinary clinical history
 – Analyze videos and photos
 – Compile a report for your veterinarian for further examination and diagnoses
 – 60 min discussion with you to discuss the findings and the route going forward