Tell Me Where it Hurts: Pet Pain and Pain Management

Tell Me Where it Hurts: Pet Pain and Pain Management

Dog covering noseDid you realize that not too long ago, most people believed that animals did not experience pain?

Thankfully, we know better now.

Unfortunately, pet’s still can’t verbalize their pain, which makes it challenging to detect and treat. However, there are ways that our pets do communicate with us, even if they don’t have the words to explain where it hurts. And those cues, along with our own understanding of pain, have made pet pain management a reality.

What Causes Pet Pain?

Just like us, pets may experience pain for a wide variety of reasons. Some pain is temporary, or ‘acute’, such as the pain felt after an injury or a surgery. Other pain is more long-term, or ‘chronic’. More common causes of chronic pain in our pets include osteoarthritis or diseases such as cancer.

Pain can greatly affect your pet’s quality of life and can decrease the ability of the body to heal. Because of this, it is essential that we identify and treat pain in our pets as early as possible.

How to Detect Pain in Pets

When it comes to showing their pain, pets are often much more subtle than humans. Some pets may have very minimal indications of pain, even though their pain is severe. This does not mean, however, that they do not need attention.

The sooner you can detect and treat pain, the sooner your pet can begin to heal and get back to normal. Some signs to watch for include:

  • Unusual aggression, especially toward being touched or moved (snapping, growling, etc.)
  • Abnormal vocalization (whining, howling, groaning, growling, etc.)
  • Changes in normal habits (decreased appetite, less social, sleeps more, hiding, cowering)
  • Change in activity level (restlessness, reluctance to move)
  • Change in demeanor (panting, staring, uncharacteristic aggression, apathy)
  • Change in posture
  • Abnormal grooming
  • Your pet’s eyes may also seem to be unusually vacant, and overall personality somewhat diminished.

    How Pet Pain is Treated

    Typically, the cause, type, and severity of your pet’s pain, will determine the type of pain management and medications your veterinarian chooses for your pet. There are a few main types of medications we offer, including:

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) – These drugs are related to medications such as ibuprofen that people take. They interfere with the body’s production of inflammatory factors that cause pain and inflammation. Never give your pet human anti-inflammatories, unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian!

    Corticosteroids – These medications are very potent anti-inflammatories as well and may be utilized in certain situations.

    Besides medications, sometimes other modalities including physical therapy, cold laser therapy, acupuncture, and nutritional supplements may be beneficial as well. These are great options to investigate with your veterinarian as a complement to pain medication.

    It is important to talk with your veterinarian if you feel that your pet is in pain.

    Do not be tempted to administer medications at home unless your vet has given you permission and the correct dosage information. Many human medications can be harmful to pets. Even those that are safe may mask symptoms, making it harder to diagnose a problem or can limit what treatments are able to be administered.

    Pain is something that no pet should have to experience. By closely observing your pet and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help ensure your pet a good quality of life.

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    Schertz Animal Hospital

    Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!