Recognizing and Treating Pain in Pets

pain in petsPain is an unfortunate part of life; but it serves a purpose insofar that it alerts us to illness and protects us from injury. Sadly, when pain is chronic or intense, our quality of life can diminish – worse still, this is just as true for our pets as it is for us.

Pets are particularly adept in masking signs of pain. This tendency is part of their DNA and a throwback to their ancestors’ days as wild animals, when showing pain meant exposing themselves as possible prey. Because of this, when pets do express pain, it’s not always obvious to their owners.

In September we observed Animal Pain Awareness Month, which was dedicated to understanding pain in our furry friends. The subtleties of pet pain can be elusive, but we at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital are here to help owners recognize the signs of pain in pets and encourage responsible pain management.

A Modern Approach to Pet Pain

Throughout most of history, animals were not considered sentient. An unfortunate outcome of this perspective was that people believed that animals either did not experience pain, or did not recognize that that’s what they were feeling.

Thankfully, those antiquated ideas are long gone. We now know that pain management is an essential part of effective veterinary treatment for our animal friends.

Pain in pets can come from a wide variety of sources;  it may be an acute pain, caused by an injury or an illness like pancreatitis, or a chronic condition, such as the pain of  arthritis or terminal cancer.

Some of the more common symptoms of pet pain include:

  • Panting (more than usual)
  • Increased vocalization – crying, yelping, whining, or growling
  • Attention to and licking or obsessively grooming a specific spot
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Disinterest in exercise
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding (cats often hide in response to being ill or in pain), or suddenly becoming clingy
  • Lack of self-grooming (cats)
  • Unable to get comfortable while resting
  • Difficulty walking on one paw or leg
  • Changes in drinking or eating, or eliminating

When  pet owners notice a change in their pets’ demeanor, or when physical differences arise, they often wonder if they should follow up with their veterinarian.

The answer is: Yes!

The sooner we can diagnose the problem, the sooner your pet will get the relief they deserve. Early detection is also integral to treating the underlying issues before it progresses into something more serious.

We believe that  you know your pet better than anyone. If you suspect something is off with your four-legged friend, having your pet examined will not only ease your mind, but quite possibly your pet’s pain, too.

Treating Pain in Pets

Depending on your pet’s source of pain, there are several traditional and alternative therapies that can be excellent ways to alleviate pain and increase the quality of their daily life. After a pet has been diagnosed, we can begin to work on a pain management treatment plan specific to their needs.

Treatment for pain in pets can include:

  • Medications (never medicate your pet without the consent of your veterinarian)
  • Supplements
  • Nutritional support
  • Physical therapy, including hydrotherapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Acupuncture

For senior pets, those who are ill, and those with chronic conditions, we recommend visiting us with greater frequency, so we can gauge how your pet is doing and adjust any medications or treatments. It is our goal to make each day the best for your pet by managing pain in a way that encourages the daily activities that make your fur pal happy.

If you suspect that your pet is in pain – be it temporary or long term, ot to learn more about pain in pets, please give us a call.

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posted in:  Pet Safety