Guest Post provided by Vet Depot: In the past, some people believed animals weren’t capable of feeling pain the same as people, while others were against treating pain in animals because they believed it played an important role in keeping injured animals still during recovery. Now, most human caretakers and veterinarians believe in managing both obvious and suspected pain to improve a pet’s comfort level.
Pain management guidelines published by the American Animal Hospital Association show that treating pain in pets improves recovery, reduces stress, and prolongs life. Pain management actually hastens recovery from illness and injury; it also improves an animal’s quality of life.
There was an interesting article in the renowned discovermagazine that mentioned many important points regarding health issues of pets and how they need to be managed due to the bad air quality that is replete with pollutants along with food and water being adulterated all over the world, is a good reason why guidelines for pain management is of extreme importance.
Types of Pain and Pain Management in Pets
Pain management may be needed short term to help your pet deal with acute pain, which is the type that occurs suddenly following surgery, an injury, or another cause. Pain management may also be long term to ease chronic pain associated with arthritis, cancer, and other lasting illnesses. Chronic pain develops gradually in most cases, which makes it easier to miss in animals, but it may be just as intense as acute pain.
Effectively easing short-term pain improves recovery and reduces stress in pets, which in turn minimizes the risk of complications. Successfully managing long-term pain greatly enhances quality of life, promotes physical activity to prevent obesity and related complications, and prolongs life.
Signs Your Pet Needs Help with Pain
It can be difficult to know whether or not a pet is in pain, as many animals instinctively hide discomfort and they do not have the verbal ability to tell us how they are feeling. However, by getting to know your pet and by watching closely for changes in mood and behavior, you can usually detect even mild pain in animals.
Signs of pain in pets include whining or whimpering, restlessness, howling or constant meowing, unusual quietness or listlessness, chewing or licking at one or more body parts, biting, increased aggressiveness, submissive behavior, trouble sleeping, reduced appetite, and ear flattening. Pets in pain may also frequently change positions while sitting or sleeping and may be unusually affectionate. If your pet begins acting strangely or shows any of these signs without obvious cause, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Pain Management Tools
Managing your pet’s pain may involve the use of lifestyle changes, massage, medication, and or surgery, depending on your pet’s specific problem and degree of pain. Once the underlying cause of your pet’s pain is determined, your veterinarian will work with you to design a pain management plan for your pet.
Lifestyle changes, which can include activity limitations, changes in bedding, and weight loss, are useful when treating both short and long-term pain and may be especially effective at minimizing discomfort associated with arthritis and bone disease. Massage is soothing and may increase circulation to speed recovery of injuries. Consult your veterinarian about the proper way to massage your pet to prevent additional pain and injury.
When pain is severe or disabling, pets may require surgery or medication to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Steroids can reduce inflammation and decrease pain, but these drugs are typically not used in long-term pain management. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are very helpful at relieving pain due to chronic conditions, but they may be contraindicated for use in some animals. Never give your pet any medication without first consulting your veterinarian. Some medications, such as acetaminophen, are toxic to animals even in small amounts.