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Dr. Joey with Beatline Oaks Veterinary Hospital: Animal Pain Awareness Month

September is animal pain awareness month. Recognizing pain in animals isn’t always easy. Some animals are very stoic and hide pain very well, while other animals readily show pain. One of the most common responses I get when questioning owners about pain is “ I don’t think he is in pain he doesn’t cry out”. Imagine what it would be like if you could not receive pain medications until your pain was so bad it caused you to cry out. In a clinical trial to evaluate pain after surgery two groups of animals were evaluated. One group was given pain medications after surgery and a second was not. Each group was observed by camera in the kennel after surgery. The animals in the group given pain medication rested well and appeared comfortable. The animals in the group not given pain medication were restless and appeared uncomfortable. However when a human entered the kennel no differences in behavior were observed, animals from both groups came to the front of the kennel and appeared happy.

These are some behaviors that may indicate chronic pain in dogs and cats. Decreased social interactions , Anxious expressions, Submissive behavior, Refusal to move, Guarding behavior, Aggression, Decreased appetite, Changes in posture, Whimpering, growling, howling, Eliminating in the house or changes in elimination habits, Hiding, Stiff Gait, Decrease in jumping, Excessive or decrease in grooming, Tail flicking, Hissing and spitting, Loss of curiosity. If your pet exhibits any of these subtle or obvious signs of pain, consult your veterinarian. A complete physical exam and radiographs can help diagnose and locate the source of pain. Lab work will help your veterinarian formulate a treatment plan.

Never give your pet pain medications prior to consulting your veterinarian as some human medications contain ingredients that are toxic to animals. NEVER give your cat acetaminophen (Tylenol) as it is very toxic to cats.

Treatment may be as simple as administering a single pain medication or may require a multimodal approach using a combination of medications, surgery and a change in your pets lifestyle. Other treatment options include Cold laser therapy, Acupuncture, and Regenerative medicine.

Remember our furry family doesn’t always cry when they hurt so don’t let them suffer in silence.

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