The pain that pets experience appears to be similar to the pain humans feel. It was previously believed that pets had a high tolerance of pain. It was believed that pain helped to keep pets quiet so they could heal. Added to that fact, they thought there was no real way to know if a pet was in pain or not. That is why the idea of pain management has changed over the last 10 years. Like humans, pain not only can shorten a pet’s life, but also the quality.
Pain management does not necessarily mean the use of drugs: like humans, physical therapy, vitamins, weight loss and other life style changes such as more exercise can make a difference to lessen pain.
There are several types of pain:
Acute pain – comes on suddenly due to an infection, surgery or injury. This type of pain usually only lasts until the reason for the pain has been identified and treated.
Chronic pain – longer term and can be slower to develop. Old age problems such as illness, arthritis, cancer and/or bone disease can lead to chronic pain. Because this type of pain could have developed over time, the pet could have developed a tolerance and had learned to live with it.
Symptoms of pain could either be the pet is abnormally quiet and listless or whining, crying or, for a cat, meowing nonstop. Biting or licking at one spot of the body could mean there is a problem. Acting out of character, looking for a lot of attention, trouble eating, sleeping or getting comfortable could also be signs your pet is in pain.
The most effective way to manage pain is by blocking it before it starts. That may only be possible with elective type of surgeries such as spays, neuters, orthopedic procedures or mass removals. For that type of pain, giving medication prior, during and/or after the procedure would provide the best pain management.
If the pain is already present, such as bone disease, broken bones, arthritis, etc., there are many types of medications to help relieve or block the pain from progressing further. Please talk with your local veterinary assistant about different options you may have for your pet.