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The one thing I can tell is that none of my bitches ever acted like they were in pain when they were in season...
So if it was one of mine, I'd be getting them checked out. But these are my bitches, I don't know if what you describe is normal or not!
I have had bitches since 1976 and don't ever recall any of them being uncomfortable during a season until Christmas this year when one of mine went off her food for a couple of days at 12 days in season and was lying curled up tight as if she was uncomfortable. She was keen for walks and runs but was definately off colour and I was just deciding that she ought to go to the vet when she started eating again and was back to normal. Being a bit sicky with bile I also find normal when they are in season. Hopefully it was just a blip and she is now feeling better and eating again. However you may now need to look out for phantom pregnancy time a few weeks later. Mine go off their food then. One wouldn't eat anything for about a week, one doesn't eat for a couple of days and then only eats one meal a day for a while and the others can't possibly eat breakfast.
That's great she is ok this morning :-D Yes, some bitches can experience pain. Hormones are funny things and can affect different dogs in different ways, just like they do to different women. Need I say more :-D I knew a chocolate lab who was horrendous in the first week or so of her season, stretching, not eating and lethargic. She also developed equally horrendous phantoms after too and eventually they had her spayed. I don't think Bess sounds anywhere near as bad as that Lab though. Glad she is good now though.
"Yes, some bitches can experience pain." Our Joy experienced pain during her season at least two or three times - tonight was one of them - your answer, Fran, confirmed my suspicion and having a open bottle of pain killer still from her eye edema, I simply put her on a low dose with the result of a relaxed girl begging for food about two hours later. I'm sure she'll be fine tomorrow - and I just wanted to say thanks to you all of you - I've learned so much from these ES discussions!