Do Deer Feel Pain? (How and When Deer Experience Pain)

Deer feel physical pain, just like humans and every other mammal. Similar to humans, deer evolved a pain response to help them avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Like all mammals, deer feel pain. However, they have increased levels of the endorphins that minimize their rate of feeling pain compared to humans.

Deer have a less complex nervous system than humans. Their nervous system perceives pain in a less organized manner; hence a deer may have more tolerance for pain than humans.

Do Deer Feel Pain

Do Deer Feel Pain when Shot with an Arrow?

Deer definitely feel pain when shot by an arrow. Deer moan and cry when shot, often writhing in pain due to their wound. Animal cruelty legislation outlaws bow hunting and other cruel hunting methods in several developed countries including the UK and Germany.

Many hunters believe that the pain isn’t comparable to that felt by a human, however this is completely untrue and deer have been seen writhing in pain after being shot by an arrow.

Related Article: How much Meat can you get from a Deer?

Do Deer Feel Pain when Hit by a Car?

Deer will feel pain when hit by a car, the level of pain depends on the exact situation. Collisions with cars may cause broken bones and internal injuries for the deer, which will be very painful.

If the deer is killed instantly, the pain will be brief and the animal may not have even had time to process what is going on.

However, if the deer is hit but does not die, then the pain may be significant.

Often, deer are simply stunned. They may lie down for a while to recover before jumping up to flee. It’s advisable not to approach a stunned or injured deer because it may lash out to try to defend itself.

Related Article: Where Do Deer Go To Give Birth?

Do Deer Feel Pain when Giving Birth?

The process of giving birth is painful to most mammals, including deer. This is because it involves the expansion of the birth canal to abnormal widths to pass the baby.

The process which deer use to give birth is similar to that of humans. They begin by searching for a safe place to birth their babies. Unlike humans, deer don’t get help while in labor

The process begins with contractions to the uterine walls. Although the deer might not show it because of their higher tolerance to pain this process is extremely painful just like that of a human. 

Usually, the period before birth the fetus aligns itself with the head pointing towards the birth canal to facilitate an easy birth. The deer then pushes the baby out with relative ease. 

On rare occasions however, the baby might not have aligned itself accordingly and might end up coming out feet first. This makes the process harder for the female and even more painful. The baby might also come out dead because of its unsafe posture.

Do Deer Feel Emotional Pain?

Deer are highly intelligent creatures and are able to feel emotional pain just like humans and other mammals.

Deer are able to feel emotional pain. This can be evidenced by countless stories and videos of mother deer crying and bawling looking for their lost calves, or mourning the death of their mate. (Haven’t you ever seen Bambi??)

Even if deer don’t experience the world in exactly the same way we do, it’s still clear that they have emotions and can experience stress and pain.

Here’s a video from The DODO showing a mother deer becoming visibly stressed when her fawn gets tangled in a football net. (Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending!)

Do Deer Feel Pain when they Shed Velvet?

Research shows that the shedding of velvet is not painful to deer. It is considered similar to a snake shedding its skin.

When the antlers are growing the velvet is responsible for transporting nutrients to their growing bone. During this time the velvet is covered in sensitive nerves and is extremely sensitive to pain.

The velvet helps the deer know the size of their antlers and how far they are developed. It also helps the deer to be able to avoid damages to the antlers as they grow. This is because antlers are soft as they grow making them easy to damage and deform.

When the antlers are fully developed the work of the velvet is done. The velvet begins to dry off and peel from the antlers.

The process is often bloody and an unpleasant sight because the deer walks around with pieces of skin hanging from their antlers. It is important to note that despite the unpleasant sight the deer feels very little to no pain at all.

Deer are often seen scrubbing off the velvet on trees. This is not painful to the animal and they mostly do this because they experience on itch as the velvet shades.


Deer certainly do feel pain as they have complex nervous systems like all other mammals. When shot, the deer will feel pain, but some speculate that they’re more motivated by fear than pain in such situations.

When hit by a car, the deer may simply be stunned. Give it time to recover and it may be okay. If it’s visibly injured, it is advisable to contact a wildlife professional to provide care to the animal. Do not approach it as deer have a strong kick!

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