Pets, like people, experience pain from chronic conditions including arthritis, when injured or during recovery from a surgical or dental procedure. Because Fido or Fluffy can’t tell us if or when they hurt, one of the most important conversations our doctors have with pet owners is whether or not they’ve noticed any changes to their pet’s quality of life. Many times, a behavior change is the first indication that a pet is experiencing pain so we want to make sure an individualized evaluation is performed to identify possible causes that can be treated in one or more ways.
Chronic pain usually lasts for weeks to months and is commonly caused by degenerative joint disease, cancer or neuropathic conditions. Old age, by itself, is not a reason for a pet to slow down or display behavior changes. Here are a few observations about behavior changes that can help our vets determine if a pet may be experiencing chronic pain:
- Prefers not to be picked up
- No longer uses the litter box
- Reluctance to go up or downstairs
- Difficulty with self-grooming
- Stopped jumping onto the bed or sofa (dogs) or windowsills or countertops (cats)
- Loss of appetite
- Aggression or biting
Depending upon the medical conditions that are causing chronic pain, our veterinarians may dispense prescription medications to reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort. They may also recommend therapeutic laser treatment, acupuncture, and/or physical therapy to help improve mobility and decrease discomfort, allowing your pet to return to its normal routine and behaviors.
Acute pain occurs at the onset of a tissue or bone injury and can continue until healing is completed. In these cases, one or more treatment modalities may be used to minimize pain until surgery can occur or until a tissue injury that doesn’t require surgery has healed. After a thorough evaluation of a pet’s acute pain level following an injury, prior to surgery, and after surgery, our veterinarians will typically dispense one or more prescription medications including anti-inflammatories and analgesics. Physical therapy, acupuncture and/or therapeutic laser treatment may also be included in the treatment plan to assist in the healing process and to help relieve pain.
Every pet that has been diagnosed with chronic or acute pain should be re-evaluated within a reasonable timeframe. Feedback from pet families about their pet’s comfort level and changes in mobility, appetite and/or urination and defecation habits will help our doctors evaluate if the prescribed treatments are successful or should be modified.
Keeping pets free of pain is a team effort that is most effective when pet parents identify behavior changes early, actively participate with recommended treatments, and regularly report on their four-legged friend’s progress. For more information about how BRVC can help keep your pet pain free, please call us at (630) 598-0600.