Does your dog tense up around sudden noises? Vets say they should be routinely assessed for pain, inflamed muscles

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Image: Does your dog tense up around sudden noises? Vets say they should be routinely assessed for pain, inflamed muscles

(Natural News) Ever wondered why your usually calm dog suddenly becomes nervous whenever he hears loud or sudden noises?

The poor pet may be in pain. That’s what new research from the University of Lincoln found out. Animal behavioral scientists from the U.K. and Brazil studied dogs who were extra sensitive to loudness, different pitches, or sudden noises. They found that dogs with musculoskeletal pain showed greater noise sensitivity.

The researchers say that pain, which could be undiagnosed, could worsen when noise makes the dogs tense up, or when these disturbances startle them. This adds stress to inflamed muscles or joints, and brings more pain. The dog then associates the noise with pain, and avoids the place or situations associated with the bad experience.

The researchers suggest that veterinarians should make sure dogs with problems related to noise undergo a complete physical examination to see if pain is making them feel afraid and anxious.

Meanwhile, professor Daniel Mills from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences pegs the average age for the usual onset of pain in dogs at around four years. So owners must bring their dogs to the veterinarian even before they mark their fourth birthday.

Researchers further studied two groups of dogs. The first group had underlying musculoskeletal pain; the other one didn’t. Dogs avoided areas where they had a bad experience with noise. Later in life, these dogs showed signs of fear whenever they heard fireworks, thunderstorms, airplanes, gunshots, cars, and motorbikes. They were usually four years older than their pain-free counterparts.


Understanding dog speech

The situation becomes a lot easier for humans and dogs if they know how to communicate with each other. Humans can sense when their pet is feeling low, and the dogs can communicate their pain by the way they bark, yelp, or simply look at their human owners.

This takes time, but science shows that it’s possible.

New research on “dog-directed speech” showed that dogs understand our gestures regardless of age. You can try this test at home. Put two similar cups covering small pieces of food in front of your dog. Make sure he doesn’t see the food and has no idea what’s inside the cups. Point to one of the cups while looking at your dog. Your pet will approach the cup you pointed to and check it out, expecting to find something in it.

That’s because your pet knows you’re telling him something. The amazing thing is, even chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, can’t seem to grasp that humans want to point something out in this situation. Neither do wolves (the dog’s closest living kin), no matter how long they’ve been around humans.

This is because dogs adapt to their human masters. Living closely with them for more than 30,000 years has made pet dogs acquire communication skills that help them bond with human adults and children.

But there are marked differences between how dogs and children understand us. The theory is that, unlike children, dogs think we’re telling them where to go when we we point out something to them. Children, on the other hand, think adults are transferring information when they point at something. This ability to understand spatial directives is the perfect example of how dogs adapt to life with humans.

Our pet dogs show how much they love us by adjusting to our ways. The least we can do for them is pay attention to what they’re telling us through their body language, the way they look at us, and the sounds they make. They will reward us with an unconditional love that will see us through the worst of times.

Read for more coverage of pet health topics.

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