Understanding Pain Management Options for Pets

Think about the last time you experienced pain. Did you cry out? Did you tell someone or try to hide it from others? Did you administer a remedy to ease the pain? Was this experience of pain similar or different from prior experiences of pain? It might take you some time to formulate answers to all of the above questions. That makes sense because pain is tricky to define.

Even though you speak a different language, your pet’s experience of pain may not seem all that different from yours. Sometimes, the types of pain your pet experiences may seem obvious, such as pain from a recent trauma, disease, or surgery or an old-age condition, e.g., arthritis. Other times, the pain may not seem as obvious, and you have to dig for behavioral clues. An animal’s instinct is to show strength against potential predators and, therefore, hide its pain. The sooner you are aware of your pet’s pain, the sooner you (and the veterinarian) can facilitate pain management strategies.  

Signs of Pain in Pets

When in pain, dogs and cats can exhibit similar symptoms. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all pets follow a similar trajectory. While one animal may want to sleep more often than usual, another animals may be restless and need to move constantly. Below are some common symptoms to look for in your pet:

  • Withdrawal from activity
  • Vocalizing
  • Limping or moving stiffly
  • Exhibiting personality changes
  • Showing aggression or resistance when touched or picked up (for fear of increased pain)
  • Dogs may increasingly lick the painful area, while cats may neglect their grooming or over-groom.

In general, cats are more mysterious than dogs when exhibiting pain symptoms. However, your vigilance and observation can help you detect that something is not quite right.

Pain Management Medications

Just because your favorite felines or canines are animals, it does not mean they are stronger than humans and can tough out any pain. They deserve and require relief, just as you do, from the throes of pain. Below are some of the most common forms of pain medications. It is highly likely that these medicines will seem familiar to you, although you should never give your pet the human form of these medications.

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs, are best for mild to medium pain. They prevent the animal’s body from producing molecules that evoke pain. These drugs carry similar side effects for pets as they do for humans, including stomach, intestinal, and liver issues.
  • Cortisone medicines, such as prednisone, can reduce your pet’s pain from arthritis, allergies, and more. These medicines come with a list of side effects that you should discuss with your pet’s veterinarian.

In addition to or in lieu of the above pain management medications, herbs and supplements can provide relief to your pet’s situation. For example, Omega-3 supplements can lessen inflammation in pets with joint pain. 

Get Professional Help

Recognizing pain symptoms is an essential first step. However, unless your pet has had a recent injury or surgery, you may not know the exact source of pain. Therefore, consulting your veterinarian is the next important step. The veterinarian can do the required tests to determine the cause of pain, if not immediately known. Then, your pet can receive the treatment necessary to return to a life of contentment.

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