Recognizing and Managing Pain in Animals
Since the advent of preventative veterinary medicine, our pets are living longer. With longevity comes the associated aches and pains – arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and chronic joint injuries, among others. Our pets cannot speak to us, so they often suffer in silence. The signs of pain in animals can include vocalizing, stiffness, less desire to run and jump and climb stairs, decreased appetite, or a change in personality and behavior. We believe in keeping animals as comfortable as possible, and to achieve that goal we use various pain management strategies. These include (but are not limited to) the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, and therapeutic class IV deep tissue laser therapy.
Pain Management Options Available at PAH
NSAIDs are pain, inflammation, and fever relievers. They are commonly used for chronic pain in older dogs as well as for acute pain in pets of all ages. Aspirin and ibuprofen are NSAIDs used in human medicine, but human drugs are not always a safe option for pets. The FDA has approved certain NSAIDs for safe use in pets, but they must still be used under the guidance of a veterinarian to help prevent adverse reactions. Onsior is a new NSAID that is approved for use in cats and has been working well for a number of conditions in our patients.
Opioids include any morphine-like synthetic narcotic that produces effects such as pain relief and sedation. These can be used in conjunction with NSAIDs to provide additional pain relief, used in place of NSAIDs in pets that cannot tolerate them, or used in pets whose pain is too severe for NSAIDs to be of benefit, such as with cancer pain.
Class IV deep tissue laser therapy is an approach to the reduction of pain and inflammation and the acceleration of tissue healing that is both drug-free and non-surgical. It relies on the use of a beam of laser light to deeply penetrate tissue without damaging it. It induces a biological response in the cells called “photo-bio-modulation”, which leads to reduced pain, reduced inflammation, and increased healing speed. Laser therapy has been scientifically proven to be successful in treating post-surgical pain, acute pain, and chronic pain. Treatments are comfortable for the pet, can be performed with the client present, and take a matter of minutes and protocols are unique to each patient and condition.
We believe that managing pain is an essential element to healing, so we send every pet home with pain medication after any surgery. There are many other instances in addition to post-surgical pain where your pet may require pain management. A veterinarian will evaluate your pet and together we can come up with a pain management plan that is best for the unique needs of your pet and your lifestyle. The ultimate goal is to minimize your pet’s pain and maximize mobility and quality of life without adverse effects.