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Technician's Corner- Animal Pain Awareness Month

Animal Pain Awareness Month

September has been recognized as Animal Pain Awareness Month by the IVAPM (International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management), so we would like to provide you with some information on how to identify pain in your animal and some of the treatments we use for animal pain management.

Many animals are often stoic when it comes to pain, and we tend to forget that they experience the same kind of suffering as humans do. Often their discomfort is obvious, for example; limping, disinterested in food, or having an obvious struggle of some sort. This kind of pain is often characterized as ‘acute pain’. But many animals also experience ‘chronic pain’, which is sometimes not as visible (often senior animals will have chronic pain that is often misconstrued as just ‘old age’).

Signs and Indications of Pain:

-Reluctant To Go Up and Down Stairs: We see this with dogs quite often, this can often indicate signs of arthritis.

-Reluctant To Jump Up and Down: We see this with cats quite often, which can also indicate signs of arthritis or injury.

-Difficulty Standing After Lying Down: Another sign or possible arthritis.

-Decreased Appetite: Can sometimes indicate a painful mouth or diseased teeth, which can be extremely painful.

-Over-Grooming or Licking A Particular Area: Can be a sign of referred pain.

-Hiding: Usually indicates something pain-related could be going on.

-Vocalization: If your cat or dog is more vocal then normal, this could indicate something internal is giving them pain and discomfort. Sometimes can indicate GI issues, UTI’s or other issues.

Pain Management Treatments

For Dogs:

There are several options for treating dogs that have chronic pain outside of the clinic that are very effective in helping your dog feel as best as they can.

  • Rimadyl: Is an anti-inflammatory NSAID developed for the use in dogs that often works quite well for long-term treatment of arthritis and general pain in dogs (currently only safe to use with dogs). Many owners find this helps their senior pets move around better, and we use it for general pain in younger dogs also. In rare cases, this medication can cause GI upset, so it is always recommended to give with food. If any kind of GI upset is noted, discontinue and call us immediately.

  • Galliprant: This is a relatively new-to-the-market NSAID that is also used in dogs for treatment of arthritis and general chronic pain. It is said to help reduce inflammation and pain. Because it is still a relatively new NSAID, we don’t quite know of all it’s side effects, but it is said to be a little more gentle on the GI tract for those dogs who have a sensitive stomach. As with Rimadyl, if any GI upset is noted after your dog starts this medication, we advise it be discontinued and to call us immediately.

  • Gabapentin: As noted in last month’s Tech blog, we have been using this more frequently in cats for anxiety before visits as part of our new Fear Free approach. However, in dogs we primarily use this for pain. Gabapentin is a drug that was first use as an anti-seizure medicine in humans. As it’s starting to be used more and more for neurological pain in humans, we are also finding it works very well for dogs who have chronic pain and arthritis also. Higher-end doses can cause some sedation, while the lower end dosages can help act as a pain reliever. Gabapentin can be used in conjunction with the NSAIDS listed above.

  • Tramadol: Tramadol is also used in the same manner as Gabapentin in dogs. It can help aid in chronic pain, or acute pain. Can also be used in conjunction with the listed NSAIDS. We are finding that we are prescribing this less, as more information comes out to indicate that Gabapentin can work just as well.

  • Non-Pharmaceutical Treatments: There are many more ‘natural’ treatments that can also help aid in pain management. There are a few facilities and specialists in the city that offer water therapy, physical therapy, massage and acupuncture. These can work very well, and often used in conjunction with pharmaceuticals for pain management.

For Cats:

At this time there are a few less options for pain control and management in cats because their bodies cannot process NSAIDs in the same ways as dogs. Unfortunately at this time, there is only one NSAID approved by the FDA for cats, and it is one that cannot to used long-term. I will provide further information below.

  • Buprenorphine: This is an oral liquid medication that we will send home in either a bottle or pre-loaded syringes. This is typically not used on a long-term or daily basis, however, if a cat is experiencing chronic pain, which sometimes we will see with cats in renal failure, for example, we may use this with pain flare-ups. It is solely used as a pain reliever, and can cause sedation or behavior changes. To be used only as prescribed.

  • Onsior: Onsior is the only NSAID currently on the market that is safe for use in cats, and specifically formulated for them. It is prescribed for a 3-day period in the form of oral tablets, or injection (in-hospital use only). Because cats cannot process NSAIDs as dogs (and humans) do, they cannot be on this medication long-term, but it does help with inflammation and general pain. Often used for post-surgery pain. Note: It is advised to never try giving your cat any other type of NSAID, as they can be toxic.

If you feel

your pet is experiencing any kind of pain, please call us and we can discuss further with your veterinarian. It can be hard to distinguish what constitutes pain, or where it is coming from, but we want to make sure your pet is not suffering in any kind of way! And if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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