Neuropathic Pain in Dogs

Neuropathic pain is a type of pain which is caused by damage to or dysfunction of the nervous system. It commonly results from an injury or disease relating to the body’s nerves and how they function, or within the spinal cord itself.

Pain is usually the natural consequence of tissue injury and can be classified into two types – nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain.

Nociceptive pain is caused by actual, or potential damage to tissues such as a cut, a burn, or an injury. The cause of this type of pain is because tiny nerve endings become activated or damaged by the injury, and this sends pain messages to the brain via nerves.

Neuropathic pain, on the other hand, is caused by a problem with one or more nerves themselves. The function of the nerve is affected in a way that it sends pain messages to the brain.

In dogs, neuropathic pain is difficult to diagnose since the dogs can not verbalize their pain, especially in patients that are unable to respond to specific inducements. 


Chronic neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the tissues of the body, and the nerves running through them. This type of pain is brought on by light touch on the affected area and/or heightened perception of the pain.

Pain that originates within the spinal cord itself causes problems with various functions of the body including mobility.

Common symptoms of neuropathic pain include:

Limping or dragging a limb

Shaking or twitching of the skin

Chewing on the affected area

Muscle wasting (atrophy)

Crying out (vocalizing)

Decreased appetite

Urinating and defecating inappropriately (incontinence) 

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