Dogs and cats feel pain for many of the same reasons as humans: infections, dental problems, arthritis, bone disease and cancer. They also feel discomfort following surgical procedures. Unfortunately, unlike humans, they are unable to speak to us about when and where they hurt. This is why we have pain management protocols in place to prevent, recognize and minimize pain.
How can I tell if my pet is in pain?
• excessive licking
• snapping when touched
• hesitation going up stairs
• posture changes
• dilated pupils
• inappropriate urination
• sudden behavior changes
What do you do if your pet is in pain and your veterinarian's office is closed?
If your veterinarian's office is closed, call the emergency hospital your veterinarian recommends. For questions about medication, it is very important to follow the directions printed on prescription bottles provided by your veterinarian. Always talk to your veterinarian before you stop or change a dose of any medication. Never give your pets medication, especially human ones, without consulting a member of your veterinary team. Something as harmless as aspirin can harm a pet. Remember that many natural remedies and herbs can also be toxic to your pets. Natural does not mean safe.
What to expect during pain assessments
Veterinary members will examine and palpate a pet's entire body, which may include flexing all the joints. Your pet may need to sit, stand, walk, and run if arthritis or joint problems are suspected. Be prepared: Pets that are in pain may cry out or try to bite during this exam. This response helps identify a painful area as well as determine the extent of the pain. The exam may include radiographs.
What can you do for your pet?
No one wants to see a pet suffer. Educate yourself about the importance of pain management. If your pet is on a pain management program, he/she should be seen regularly for rechecks. Your pet may need more or less medication and the veterinarian is depending on you to monitor your pet closely for signs that a program is working - or that it needs adjustment. Pain management is not just a pill you give your pet. It can include massages, ultrasound, swim therapy, cold/hot packs, acupuncture, and adjustments to your home. For example, raised food dishes can help pets with arthritis or back problems. It is important to talk with your veterinarian to decide what will work best for your pet. After all, who knows your pet better than you?
Questions to ask your veterinarian about pain management:
• Is pain a part of my pet getting older?
• Do you have a pain management program?
• Do you offer alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture - or do you refer?
• Will you give my pet pain medication before, during, and after surgery?
• Will you send home pain medication for my pet?
• Are there other things I can do at home to help?
Contact Darien Animal Clinic today to schedule a pain assesment, if you believe your pet is in pain.