Pain Management For Dogs And Cats
Pet pain management requires specialized compassion, understanding and experience. Veterinarians have made great advancements in determining specifically how pets feel pain, and effectively managing their relief. Oftentimes, pets will hide or mask their pain as a survival mechanism, and historically, this made understanding their pain needs a difficult task. Now, with deeper understanding of exactly how pain is felt and experienced in pets, veterinarians can more readily recognize and manage pain directly.
Pain is a particularly subjective experience in both pets and animals, and can be difficult to measure. Generally, most pets instinctively mask their pain to protect themselves from potential predators. This instinctive response creates a challenge for veterinarians attempting to assess and evaluate possible pain indicators. Each animal experiences pain differently, and just because your pet is not crying, limping or demonstrating any noticeable pain symptoms does not mean that your pet isn't in pain. Our veterinarians generally advise that if an injury or illness would potentially hurt or cause pain in you, then it will do the same in your pet.
Our compassionate approach to pain management for dogs and cats includes anticipating potentially painful procedures, and taking appropriate steps to manage pain before and throughout your pet's treatment and recovery. It is important to closely observe your pet if they have been obviously injured or are demonstrating any sudden changes in behavior. While signs may be subtle, your pet will usually shift a typical behavior pattern in some way that will be noticeable with careful observation. Oftentimes, your pet may refuse to climb stairs, being held or picked up and become obviously less active.
Additional signs that your pet may feel pain may include:
- Aggressive behavior when approached
- Becoming suddenly violent, or in turn, withdrawing and becoming reclusive
- Ears lying close to their head
- Licking the affected area
- Decreased activity level
- Refusal to climb, walk or play
- Lagging behind on walks
- Difficulty getting up
- Yelping or whimpering
- Soreness when touched
- Exhibiting general personality changes
When treating a pet for any medical issue, pain management is one of our main considerations. Our veterinarians approach our patient's care from a holistic perspective, evaluating physical issues, as well as emotional and psychological issues that may affect well-being and overall health. From this perspective, we can see that the experience of pain can directly affect the body's ability to function and and heal, having a negative effect on a pet's well-being and quality of life.
Should your pet need to undergo a surgical procedure, our veterinarians will generally recommend quality pain medication that will provide them necessary relief as they recover. We carefully and compassionately evaluate your specific pet's needs before making appropriate choices about which medications will best benefit your pet.
Some common veterinary medications include:
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Interfering with the body's inflammatory molecules that cause pain and swelling, these safe and effective drugs are most commonly used to treat low to moderate pain.
- Opioids: Generally given for more severe pain, especially pre- and post-operatively, these drugs include morphine and buprenorphine. In long-term pain or hospice-like situations, we may utilize fentanyl to help maintain quality of life and comfort.
We also offer Alternative Therapies to help manage your pet's pain, including:
- Laser Therapy
- Physical Rehabilitation
No pet should have to experience pain unnecessarily. It is possible to carefully observe and manage pain effectively, providing your pet with a lasting, quality, pain-free life. Contact us today to talk about tracking pain in your pet, and your pet's pain management options.
We want to help you stay well informed about preventive pet health care. Explore our pet health resources and advice below to learn more.