Many animals will instinctively hide illness and injury as a survival mechanism which in the past led to incorrect assumptions about the ability of dogs and cats to feel pain. In recent years, veterinarians have made great progress in understanding how animals feel pain and the best ways to manage it.
In fact, pain management has become an important issue in veterinary medicine. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) along with the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recently 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.
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 it may limit his or her mobility. The good news is that it’s usually temporary and goes away when the condition that causes it is treated.
Chronic pain is significant discomfort 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. The longer this pain goes untreated, the harder it is to control.
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
- Inappropriate elimination
- 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 changing positions)
- Develops new and inappropriate behavior like chewing on objects such as wood (may indicate a dental issue).
When pain is correctly assessed and treated, your pet will respond with increased vigor and a sense of well-being.
Once the source of your pet’s pain has been determined, our veterinarians utilize many methods for relieving pain, based on your pet’s needs. Those may include traditional solutions such as surgery and medication as well as complementary treatments such as laser therapy.
Laser therapy is the application of light energy to the body to stimulate healing and relieve pain. It can be used for acute conditions, chronic conditions and post-surgical pain. This non-invasive treatment has many benefits including improved circulation, reduced inflammation, reduced scar tissue formation and accelerated wound healing.
If you think your pet is suffering from acute or chronic pain, the first step is to bring your pet to see a Hickory Veterinary Hospital veterinarian. You can request an appointment online or call us at (410) 838-7797 ext. 2.