Whether your dog has suffered an injury or has been diagnosed with a chronic condition it can be difficult to watch them experience pain. Luckily there are many options for helping your dog feel better. Here, our South Plainfield vets share some of the types of pain as well as the common treatment methods and medications used for pain management in dogs.
The Different Types of Pain in Dogs
It's important to begin a discussion about managing pain in dogs by stating that anytime you believe that your pet is in pain it is essential to contact a vet. Pain indicates an underlying health issue, whether that issue is an injury, disease or other condition. Your vet can accurately diagnose your pet's condition and provide the best possible treatment options to address the problem and manage your dog's pain.
Chronic vs Acute Pain
Whether you are discussing humans or pets, pain falls into one of two main categories, either chronic or acute.
Acute Pain in Dogs
When pain is described as acute it means that it began suddenly and is typically sharp, throbbing or burning in quality. Acute pain typically causes more noticeable symptoms and can be easier for pet parents to spot than chronic pain in dogs. Your pup could experience acute pain due to a number of different injuries or conditions, including cuts, bruises, burns, broken bones, or post-surgical pain or infection.
Chronic Pain in Dogs
Chronic pain is typically a dull, ongoing pain that comes on gradually. It can be challenging for pet parents to know when their pet is experiencing chronic pain because the subtle signs of this type of pain tend to be similar to normal age-related changes. Causes of chronic pain in pets include dental health problems, osteoarthritis, and joint disease.
Signs of Pain in Dogs
Symptoms of acute pain include behavioral changes such as hiding or uncharacteristic short temper, whimpering, tucked tail, increased panting, limping, licking a particular area on the body repeatedly, guarding the painful body part or resisting being touched.
Signs of chronic pain in dogs include lack of energy, sleeping more, stiff limbs, difficulties rising from the floor, reduced appetite and reluctance to go for walks, play or climb stairs.
Pain Management For Dogs
There are now a number of different treatments and drugs that can be used to help manage chronic and acute pain in dogs.
Once the precise cause of your pup's pain has been determined your vet will choose the best possible pain management for your dog. Treatment for managing your dog's pain could include one or more of the following medications or therapies.
The Different Types of Medications Used To Manage Pain
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are used to treat mild to moderate pain and discomfort by impeding your dog's body's production of the inflammatory molecules that trigger pain and swelling. While often effective, these drugs must be used with caution since they can lead to the development liver, kidney, stomach, and/or intestinal problems in some dogs.
Opioids including morphine, codeine, fentanyl, buprenorphine, and hydromorphone are typically used for more severe pain in dogs such as surgical pain, or pain caused by severe arthritis or advanced cancer. This class of drugs can help dogs to maintain a good quality of life by managing chronic pain.
Although traditionally used to help control seizures and anxiety in dogs gabapentin can also be used to manage some types of chronic pain including pain from degenerative joint disease
Vets often prescribe tramadol for dogs suffering from pain due to arthritis, cancer, surgery, or chronic pain disorders. In some cases, tramadol is also helpful in treating anxiety in dogs.
Cortisone & Synthetic Cortisone-Like Medications
Drugs such as prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone can have a very profound impact when it comes to treating dog pain thanks to their potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Pain Management For Dogs Using Various Therapies
Acupuncture for dogs can help to stimulate healing and provide effective pain relief. When used post-surgically, veterinary acupuncture can help to improve the dog's comfort level and speed healing. In some cases, this therapy can be an effective way to reduce or eliminate the need for chronic medications. Acupuncture for dogs is most often used in conjunction with medications and other treatments.
Cold Laser Therapy
Laser therapy can be used to manage your dog's pain by stimulating the lymphatic drainage system which can help to reduce painful inflammation, activating nerve cells in order to block pain signals from reaching your pup's brain, and stimulating the production of endorphins that can be helpful in counteracting pain.
As with people, massage techniques can be used to relax your dog's muscles, reduce stress, improve circulation, and decrease pain. Massage can be especially helpful in pets suffering from pain due to athletic injuries or arthritis.
Neuromuscular Stimulation or TENS
When electrical stimulation is used on dogs it can help to strengthen muscles and reduce muscle wasting in dogs suffering from temporary or partial paralysis. TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) can be used to stimulate the release of pain-relieving substances from nerves.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.