Vail Daily Pet Talk: Pain management for pets
July 8, 2010
VAIL, Colorado – Pets feel pain just as much as humans do. Pain accompanies any trauma, arthritis, surgical procedures and other conditions. The veterinary profession is finally viewing pain management as a fundamental part of good practice. We are compassionate about our pets and have realized that we need to manage their pain before it becomes too severe.
There are some misunderstandings about how our pets experience pain and how we treat pain, so here are a few answers to some common questions.
First of all, animals feel pain like people, because our anatomy and pain pathways are simailar to theirs. Some people think that pain in pets will limit their activity and therefore is beneficial. In fact, pain may actually make it harder to control pain because the pain can trigger a stress response, which increases the pets arrousal. Pain threshold in animals and humans is similar. Animals will hide signs of pain because in the wild to keep predatorsfrom seeing them as easy prey. Sometimes it is hard for pet owners to see signs of pain in their pets. Common signs include: shaking, panting, whining, not wanting to move much, not eating, etc.
After trauma, surgery or any determination of pain from any problem, a pet should be given something for their pain. There are analgesics for pets. Some are given to humans as well, while some are made exclusively for pets. Analgesics are safe and not toxic if used appropriately. There are many medications available for pain, as well as therapeutic modalities that are also used in human physical therapy.
Medications can be given via injection or orally, depending on the pet’s condition. The stronger pain control drugs like morphine can be used initially to control pain after surgery or pain from a chronic condtion as well. These can be given with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, which offer some pain relief by decreasing inflammation.
Here are other therapies that can be used in conjunction with the medications:
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• Heat therapy is used for pain due to arthritis and muscle spasms. Heat dilates blood vessels and increases circulation, which helps decrease pain and relax tight muscles.
• Cold therapy helps decrease pain and can be used following surgery and acute injury.
• Electro therapy can also control pain by using electrical nerve stimulation. This modality is usually used right afer surgery, and with a painful treatment.
• Acupuncture has been used for a long time to control pain and decrease inflammation. When acupuncture is done with electrical activity (electro-acupuncture), there is a strong effect and it lasts longer. Dogs tolerate the electro-acupuncture very well and it provides relief immediately.
Veterinarian Nadine Lober can be reached at 970-949-7972.