Pets feel pain just like people do. At Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital, when a patient is experiencing pain due to injury, illness, dental disease, or surgery, we always do our very best to provide the most effective pain relief possible.
In recent years, veterinarians have made great progress in understanding how animals feel pain and the best ways to manage that pain. Many animals will instinctively hide their pain as a survival mechanism. In the past, this led to incorrect assumptions about the ability of dogs and cats to feel pain. Because we now understand more about how pets feel pain, we know how to better recognize and manage it.
Pain management has become an important issue in veterinary medicine. The American Animal Hospital Association, along with the American Association of Feline Practitioners, released the AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. These guidelines show that pain management helps improve the recovery process, whether from illness, surgery, or injury. Because it reduces stress and increases a sense of well being, pain management may even help your pet live longer.
Understanding pain is an important part of pain management. There are two different types of pain in pets: acute pain and chronic pain.
Acute pain comes on suddenly as a result of an injury, surgery, inflammation, or infection. It can be extremely uncomfortable for your pet and may limit her/his mobility. The good news is that it's usually temporary and goes away when the condition that causes it is treated. We offer pain management with every surgical procedure for both the comfort of the patient, and to speed the recovery process. This may involve a preoperative injection which lasts a minimum of 24 hours, so that the patient is comfortable upon waking, as well as ensuring a restful night's sleep at home. When deemed necessary by the doctor, medication for the next few days is also included.
Chronic pain is by definition pain that lasts longer than two weeks. It can result from acute pain that goes untreated, or it can develop more slowly. Common sources of chronic pain are osteoarthritis, dental disease, and cancer. Animals that suffer from chronic pain often have subtle clinical signs that collectively make them appear older than they really are. The longer the pain goes on, the harder it is to control. Therefore, we always want to treat this pain early.
Signs that your pet might be in pain include:
- Depression and/or inactivity
- Rising slowly or "collapsing" to lie down
-Walking with a stiff gait, especially after getting up
-Standing or sitting in unusual positions
-Whining, whimpering, howling, or constantly meowing
-Constantly licking or chewing at a particular part of the body
-Acting funny and out of character, either aggressively or submissively
-Unable to get comfortable (Constantly changes positions to find the most comfortable position)
-Develops new and inappropriate behavior like chewing on objects such as wood (may indicate a dental issue)
Though animals do not express pain like we do, our veterinarians and skilled staff can detect subtle signs that your pet may not be feeling well. Our first priority is to accurately assess the level of pain your pet may be experiencing.
At Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital, we work at preventing pain whenever possible. We utilize techniques to stop pain in your companion before it occurs. This is accomplished using analgesics prior to surgeries and other procedures and by incorporating nerve blocks, whenever applicable.
Another pain management treatment we utilize is pharmacologic intervention. There are many safe and effective pet pain medications available through our own pharmacy that can help alleviate pain in countless situations. These may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, and pain-fighting steroids.
Alternative pain relief strategies: Many dietary supplements and other therapeutic remedies exist that can help relieve pain for your pet. Acupuncture and laser therapy have both also proven to be effective treatments for pain. We believe in using these in conjunction with other pain management strategies to provide the most comprehensive treatment possible.
When pain is correctly assessed and treated, patients respond with increased vigor and a sense of well being that owners recognize and appreciate.
We work hard to keep our patients comfortable at all times and invite you to contact us if you would like to speak with a staff member about the many ways we can help make sure pain is never something that you and your pet have to deal with.
Please call to schedule your pet's appointment today!