How painful is an ear ache? Ever had one? How about a broken bone or even a deep bruise? We're all used to managing our own pain levels and the number of products to help us do so is almost limitless. There are so many available over the counter in this day that it can really be difficult to decide what to use and when! America doesn't "do pain," a fact that makes the pain reliever market an incredible one!
When I began practice in 1985 there were very few products available with a veterinary label to manage our pet's pain. Honestly, it was not a subject that received an inordinate amount of emphasis in veterinary curricula. With the development of products like carprofen (Rimadyl) in the late 80's, however, there began to be a new interest in understanding and measuring the level of pain our pets experience. With this interest, a whole new emphasis on pain awareness in veterinary practice began to develop and we, along with our pets, are the beneficiaries.
I don't know how many times each day a client asks me concerning their pet, "How do I tell if he's hurting?" Obviously Fido can't speak to us in words but we have developed some understandings of many of the signs that may be associated with pain. From shivering and shaking to panting and general agitation, there are many tip-offs to seeing pain manifest. Naturally, these signs need to be associated with history in the patient suggestive of same in order to make strong connections. We know many breeds such as dachshunds, for example, that are notorious for "shivering" even when they are completely normal. Panting is the only way our dogs can "sweat" and yet it can also be a sign of something as significant as deep bone pain. Even behavioral changes can often be attributed to a pet hurting in some way. It is important to describe any condition which you may perceive as pain to your veterinarian in order to get a professional assessment as to clinical significance.
There are so many pain prevention and treatment modalities now days that multiple texts have been dedicated to their explanations. At our practice we routinely use most all oral pain relievers available in many combinations. We have also long been a proponent of cold laser therapy as an adjunct in pain relief having added this technology to our repertoire some 10 years ago. We continue to see it as an extremely useful tool in managing pain.
This field is one that continues to develop rapidly as knowledge grows. Many new drugs are in the works and new and exciting technologies for measuring, quantifying and treating pain continue to emerge. Please feel free to contact our hospital anytime to discuss any problems your pet may be encountering that you think may be pain oriented.
Oh... and don't substitute your own pain medications for you pets please! There are many products out there for human use that are absolutely contraindicated for your pets so always contact your veterinarian before giving ANYTHING that is a human script
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