Is your dog reluctant to go for their daily walks? Or is your cat hiding more than usual? Perhaps there is a simple explanation for this behavior: pain. Our Tampa Bay veterinarian explains during “Pain Awareness Month” as our pets age they may experience pain and discomfort associated with arthritis. Pets in nature are pleasing creatures and tend to only show subtle signs of pain, as a result symptoms are often overlooked by their owners.
What are the Types of Pain?
- Acute pain immediately follows an injury and will resolve after healing
- Chronic pain is a persist pain lasting long term.
- Arthritis is an example of chronic pain and is one of the most common ailments seen in middle aged and older pets. Arthritis is a permanent long-term deterioration of the cartilage surrounding the joints, creating painful inflammation and stiffness.
Signs that Indicate Pain
- Limping – You may notice your pets limping or favoring one or more of their legs. In most cases a limp appears worse when your pet rises, becoming less noticeable as they move around.
- Difficulty in moving – They become more reluctant to do things that were previously easy for them to accomplish. For instance, jumping in and out of the car or difficulty going up and down the stairs. Cats may stop jumping on counter tops or other high areas.
- Spinal issues – Abnormal posture with a curve in the back or lameness of one or both rear legs.
- Tiredness – Painful pets are easily tired, walks may become shorter and you may notice them sleeping or resting more often.
- Irritability – Painful pets may snap or bite, particularly when handling areas associated with pain.
- Muscle Atrophy – This is the process of decreased muscle mass due to lack of physical activity. This occurs when a disease or injury takes place, making it difficult or impossible for a pet to move. Physical changes include a leg that appears thinner than a normal leg.
- Licking, Chewing, and Biting – Pets affected by arthritis may begin to lick, chew, or bite at the location of the pain, causing inflamed skin and hair loss at these areas.
Treatments for Pain
- Laser Therapy is a non-invasive way to reduce pain and inflammation to those trouble areas while restoring mobility. It increases blood flow and circulation to the treatment area, this reduces pain and speeds recovery of damaged cells. Most patients see positive results within one to three treatments. While acute conditions can subside within one session, chronic conditions are managed with regular monthly treatments. There are no known negative side effects with laser therapy.
- NSAIDs are a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that helps ease arthritis pain, much like aspirin for humans. NSAIDs are often prescribed to manage post-surgical pain and short-term pain. Long-term use is only recommended when other pain management options have failed. Side effects of these medications include: elevations in kidney and liver functions and gastrointestinal ulceration. Our doctor at River Mill Animal Hospital will closely monitor your pet’s organ function during NSAID therapy.
- Dasuquin is a joint health supplement which helps protect against cartilage breakdown and provides nutrients to the surrounding tissue. Cartilage is the body’s natural shock absorber allowing flexible joint function. Over time it breaks down resulting in less flexibility. Glucosamine, chondroitin, and avocado/soybean oils are ingredients found in Dasuquin. These nutrients are sustained in cartilage cells and provide the necessary components to maintain healthy cartilage.
- Overweight and obese pets struggle with pain more so than our healthy weight companions. When our pets are in motion their bodies are under tremendous pressure, additional weight causes unnecessary strain to the joints. Weight loss and management are vital components when creating a pain relief plan.
Steps to a Pain Free Pet.
The first step is to schedule a consultation, our Tampa Bay veterinarian will perform a thorough physical and orthopedic examination of your pet. This will determine pain location and triggers. Radiographs may be recommended based on exam findings. Next, our medical team will customize a pain management plan tailored to your pet’s specific needs.
If your pet is experiencing pain and you would like more information about how the team at River Mill Animal Hospital can help, please call our office at 813-501-4985 and we will be delighted to assist you.