It has been a weird week-I haven't been feeling that great so the only way of recovering from a virus is basically resting and sleeping
My energy levels have been low so that is exactly what I have been doing. There was one evening when I experienced random aches and pains and I was robbed of sleep-and trying to function the next day was not really possible
I used Christmas to recover and plodded around the paths and roads with my dogs trying to force myself into feeling a bit better, it didn't really work and I was grateful to get home
On one of my walks I saw 3 dogs in quick succession -because I was moving slower than normal I had plenty of time to watch them
One was a labrador-I had seen the same dog 20 minutes earlier and everything looked ok but as he passed me a second time on the other side of the road I saw something I had never seen before
The hair on his neck was standing up-as was the hair across his the sacrum and down into his tail-they were really visible even on the other side of the road as these two areas were linked by what I often refer to as a "sway back"-borrowed from the horse definition-where the back is collapsed and lacks muscle
He looked in pain and was moving a lot slower than he had been when I had seen him earlier
Moments before this I saw a staffie being hurried along on a short lead so each time he wanted to drop his head and sniff he couldn't reach the scent and as he was hustled along I could see he was clearly in pain.
He couldn't place his hind feet underneath him -his body was crooked and his back looked really painful
Almost immediately after I saw yet another staffie with the same movement that was being hustled along too-his weight was balanced to his front because there was very little strength in his hind legs
We really do have to raise awareness of pain this year. I would estimate that 85% of dogs whose owners complain about "problem behaviours" are actually caused by pain
I think that most of us that work professionally with dogs or other animals are really familiar with this scenario
Behaviour change is often led by pain.
I will be doing more posts on recognising pain in dogs this year because pain is debilitating, comes in many forms, can happen at ANY age and should not be ignored
The labrador I saw earlier this week had radical changes to the pattern of his hair / coat-it was visibly sticking up rather than laying flat along his back.
This is a symptom of pain and discomfort-the fascia and muscles are prone to spasms when there is underlying pain- and of course the dog will no longer be able to move freely
We must learn to recognise and identify pain when we see it in our dogs-and a new year is a good place to start