Our Pet’s Pain

No dogs were hurt in the making of this picture -- Rocket says "modeling is exhausting!"

No dogs were hurt in the making of this picture — Rocket says “modeling is exhausting!”

Pain can be a very real condition in our pets because just like us they have very similar neural pathways for conduction, development and controlling pain. As a species, humans are vocal about our pain and we protect it but our pets have the instinct of “survival of the fittest” and they tend to hide pain because someone bigger and stronger will take their place. I know, I know – you have a pet that has never had to defend for itself but that instinct is still there.

It has been found that untreated pain can decrease the quality and quantity of life by prolonging recovery from surgery, illness or injury.

Pain can be classified as either acute or chronic. These different classes of pain are usually treated differently depending on the situation. The classes of pain are also known as adaptive or maladaptive which does not take the notion of time periods into account as much.

Adaptive pain is a normal response to tissue damage whether it is a fracture, bruise, scrape or anything else. The normal response is to release inflammatory components that cause such things as swelling, heat, redness, pain or loss of function of the area. The major component of adaptive pain is inflammation and that can be present in acute or chronic pain states.

Adaptive pain that is not managed can actually cause physical changes in the spinal cord or brain and become maladaptive pain. In maladaptive pain, the central nervous system because so sensitive that it can turn on and spontaneously cause pain. This type of pain becomes very hard to manage.

A lot of owners don’t understand that their pet is in pain because the pet doesn’t whine and cry (like humans) so they miss the signs of a problem. A variety of signs can be present that give you an idea that something may be wrong.

These signs in a dog can include:

  • Sitting or lying differently
  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Decreased grooming
  • Decreased eating
  • Behavior changes

The signs in a cat can include:

  • Behavior changes
  • Not grooming
  • Not eating
  • Hiding
  • Not jumping up to their favorite spot

The way to help your pet is to first recognize that they may have a problem and get them to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will do a physical exam, possibly radiographs and blood work depending on what they find.

Pain can be managed in a variety of ways such as NSAIDs, cryotherapy, thermotherapy, rehabilitation, laser therapy, hydrotherapy, weight loss, acupuncture and supplements such as glucosamines. The best way to manage pain is with your veterinarian’s guidance.

You are your pet’s advocate and as such we all need to be vigilant in the fight against pain. If you need any assistance with your pet’s pain management, please be sure and give us a call at ARCC – Animal Rehab & Conditioning Center.

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