Spotting Animal Abuse: 12 Red Flags that a Dog Has Been or is Being Abused

  • by Andrea Nunez
Spotting Animal Abuse: 12 Red Flags that a Dog Has Been or is Being Abused

Animal lovers across the globe can’t fathom how anyone could ever be abusive towards animals, yet somehow it happens, and sometimes with very few signs. Dog abuse can manifest as neglect, physical abuse, and even sexual abuse. You should be aware of some of the signs that an animal is being abused, or has been abused in the past, so that you can report it to the relevant authority.

1.   Flinching at human contact

Perhaps one of the more obvious signs that an animal is being abused, or may have been abused in the past is if they flinch when a human goes to pet them. This may show that the dog is fearful of humans, and in particular of their hands. They may have been struck or even beaten in the past, and are defensive as a result.

2.   Avoiding human contact (or contact with other dogs)

If a dog doesn’t just flinch when near humans, but avoids them altogether, this may be another sign of previous abuse. They may also be fearful of other dogs if they have had fights in the past.

3.   Tucked tail

A tucked tail is one of the not-so-obvious signs that a dog may be being abused. While on its own a tucked tail doesn’t mean much, in conjunction with other symptoms listed here, this particular dog behaviour can be a sign of abuse.

4.   Unexplained limping or broken bones

If a dog is limping or has fractured bones, this may be a sign of animal abuse. This is particularly the case if the dog has injuries that are at different stages of healing, or multiple limbs are affected.

5.   Unprovoked aggression

Dogs that are very aggressive, especially when unprovoked, have sometimes been abused in the past. This is especially true if the animal has a general dislike for certain people, for example a general dislike of men. This is because a dog will not always be able to distinguish strangers from past abusers.

6.   Whining and whimpering with an unknown cause

There are many reasons why your dog may be whining or whimpering, and, on its own, this doesn’t mean that the dog has been abused. However, if you see this symptom in addition to others, it may be a result of past abuse.

7.   Submissive nature

Dogs with an overly submissive nature, including dogs who cower, drop to the floor regularly, or urinate very frequently, may have had an abusive past.

8.   Biting or scratching when human contact is made

If a dog lashes out, biting or scratching a human when they attempt to pet them, it may be a defence mechanism used against a previous abusive owner.

9.   Fur loss or matted fur

Fur loss and matted fur can be signs that a dog is malnourished, or isn’t being taken care of property. These both fall under the category of neglect, which is a form of animal abuse.

10. Unexplained weight loss

Likewise, weight loss is also often caused by a poor diet or lack of food and water, which is neglectful, and a form of dog abuse. An underweight dog may also have other visible issues that are red flags that the animal is being abused.

11. Untreated wounds or injuries in different stages of healing

Wounds that have been left untreated, or wounds that are in different stages of healing, are also a sign that an animal is being abused. Their owner may frequently change their story about where the injuries came from, and how old the injuries are.

12. Scars

Wounds from physical abuse that have managed to heal on their own can form scars. Dogs that have many scars could have been abused in the past.

If you suspect that a dog is being mistreated, you should report it to the police and a local animal shelter. You may also want to call up a local vet practise and make them aware of the symptoms that you saw, in case they are already on their database.

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