When a Kiss Won’t Cut it: A Spotlight on Pet Pain Management
When it comes to pet pain management, veterinary medicine has made tremendous strides in the past century. It’s now common knowledge that pets feel pain in much the same way as humans and that chronic pain can impair the healing process by interfering with immune function, decreasing appetite, and increasing anxiety.
At Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, improving the quality and longevity of our patients’ lives is one of our top priorities. Let’s take a moment to focus on a pet’s pain and the various ways we can help manage it.
Assessing Pet Pain
Identifying a pet’s pain is the first step towards treatment. Most animals will hide signs of pain and discomfort because this would convey weakness and vulnerability. Consequently, knowing when a pet is hurting is not always easy.
Interestingly, there are different types of pain and different types of causes. Since pain is a sensory response to a painful stimulus, there are often situations where the source of a pet’s pain is not obvious, as it would be if the pet had a visible wound or injury.
You know your pet better than anyone else, so by being observant and paying attention to your pet’s behavior you are better able to spot potential problems early on. Take note of any changes in behavior such as, sudden limping, pacing, growling or crying out when touched, excessive licking, loss of appetite, not getting up off the floor, lagging behind on walks, hiding, lethargy, or just a general appearance of discomfort. These can all be indications that your pet is experiencing pain and should be seen by a veterinarian right away.
Pet Pain Management Strategies
At Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we offer different pain management strategies for pets depending on what is causing the pet to be in pain. This will be determined by our veterinarian after examining the pet and evaluating any diagnostic test results, if needed.
- Medications – Pain management medications can play an important role in reducing pain, with dosages that can be adjusted specifically to a pet’s weight, size, and comfort needs and, with the guidance of your veterinarian, be stopped if no longer needed. Today’s pet pain medications can also be prescribed specific to your pet’s type of pain, such as pain from an injury, after a surgery, a disease or chronic pain that is age-related. Since not all pain medications work in the same way or are effective for all types of pain, your veterinarian will prescribe the one best suited for your pet’s needs. It is important to note that you should never give your pet human pain medication, as these medications are highly toxic to pets and can cause fatal reactions.
- Physical Therapy Exercises – In many cases, simple exercises recommended by your veterinarian can help a pet feel better, especially, after a surgery where regaining strength, range of motion, and mobility is the goal.
- Weight Management – It is not unusual for a pet’s pain to be compounded by being overweight. Additional pounds place excessive pressure on joints and the supporting ligaments and tendons, which over time can lead to arthritis and other problems that cause pain. Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and regular exercise can help prevent this type of pain.
- Diet – Having a pet on the right diet for its age, health status, and nutritional needs can also help to keep painful conditions under control or at bay. Prescription diets are formulated specifically to treat health problems, including, joint and mobility issues, weight management, allergies, dental health, and urinary and kidney function, to name a few. We recommend and carry these diets both in our lobby and online stores because they help in the management of many conditions, resulting in a better quality of life for the pet.
- Laser Therapy – Another effective method of reducing pain and promoting healing is through the use of cold laser therapy, a noninvasive, pain-free technique, that involves the use of a hand-held tool that emits a focused beam of high-energy light (photons) to a specific area of the body. The photons then stimulate cell regeneration, increase blood circulation, and reduce inflammation, all which help decrease pain and promote healing. The following are examples of conditions that can be improved with cold laser therapy:
- Wounds, hot spots, and other skin infections
- Soft tissue injuries
- Post-surgical healing
- Arthritis, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease
- Sprains and strains
- Muscle, tendon, or ligament injuries
- Chronic ear infections
- Dental conditions
A multi-modal approach (more than one strategy at a time) is often recommended to provide your pet with maximum relief. Your veterinarian will work with you to determine the treatment plan that’s right for your pet.
Please let the team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center know if there’s any way we can be of assistance to you and your pet!