Managing Pain in Pets for Optimal Quality of Life
Whether it’s from an injury or a chronic condition, at some point in everyone’s life, something will occur that causes pain. The same is true when it comes to pain in pets. However, our fur friends can’t use words to convey the level of pain they experience, which is why it’s important to know the signs of pet pain.
Fortunately, modern veterinary medicine has made significant strides in understanding and treating pain in our animal companions.
Addressing Pain in Pets
Historically, pets have been under-treated for pain. It was erroneously believed that a bit of pain would help keep a pet immobile, therefore encouraging a faster recovery. There was a lack of awareness of pain in pets since symptoms often differ from our own.
Luckily, times have changed; we now have a more accurate understanding of pet pain. We also view pets as important members of the family, rather than outdoor guard dogs or “mouser” cats.
As doctors of veterinary medicine, our focus is on encouraging the best possible life. This includes making pets feel better, as well as providing treatments for successful recovery. When it comes to managing pain in pets, some advances include:
- Improvements to surgical anesthesia and local anesthetics
- Development of new analgesics, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications
- Preemptive pain management before surgery (reducing post-surgical side effects)
- Advancements in treating diseases that cause pain (such as cancer)
- Physical rehabilitation that includes hydrotherapy and sophisticated technologies and equipment
- The introduction of alternative modalities such as laser therapy, acupuncture, and massage
In addition to veterinary medicine, at-home care can also make a big difference in alleviating pain, increasing comfort, and strengthening the bond you share with your animal companion.
Pain Management for Pet Owners
Supporting your pet’s day-to-day wellbeing is a deeply rewarding experience. Depending on your pet’s diagnosis and treatment, there are a number of ways you can help him or her cope with chronic or acute pain.
For pet’s with ongoing, more subtle pain or those healing from an injury or surgery, making your home as comfortable as possible is helpful. Some changes you might consider include:
- Providing an orthopedic bed or additional bedding for extra cushion
- Moving pet items to the same floor as your companion (eliminating the need for steps)
- Adding carpet or rugs to improve traction for pets with pain and mobility issues
- Providing a stable pet ramp for entering/exiting the car
- Offering appropriate games, puzzles, or other forms of mental enrichment
- Considering low-impact exercise options (e.g., gentle walks or supervised swims)
- Offering soothing petting or therapeutic massages (effective for releasing endorphins)
- Asking one of our veterinarians about specialized dietary choices and supportive supplements
If you suspect pain in your pet or your pet struggles with pain due to illness or injury, please contact us. There are now a plethora of pain management options, and there’s no reason for any pet to suffer unnecessarily.