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Pet Pain Management

Is your pet suffering from pain and you don’t know it?

Just like people, your pet may be suffering from pain for two reasons:

  • Acute Pain – acute pain happens suddenly and may be due to sickness, injury, or surgery
  • Chronic Pain – chronic pain is due to a long-term problem that normally happens over a period of time, like arthritis

Because acute pain comes on suddenly, it is easier for you to identify a problem with your pet and bring your pet in for an exam and treatment. However, with chronic pain you may not have recognized your pet has a problem or have passed it off as part of the aging process. To help you identify when your pet may be in pain, especially, chronic pain we have developed a list of signs your pet may be in pain for both dogs and cats. Click on the appropriate link below to learn more:

When you visit us with your pet we’re going to ask a series of questions about your pet’s activity, your answers will complement our Cleveland veterinarian’s physical exam for identifying problems. You can download a copy of the Colorado State University by clicking on the appropriate species below:

The doctor may also use diagnostic tools like our digital thermal imaging camera to supplement the exam. Click here to learn more about our Diagnostic Tools.

 

Treat the Cause and Manage the Pain

If we determine that your pet is in pain we’ll develop both a plan to treat the cause and manage the pain. While sometimes, pain medications will be sufficient to manage your pet’s pain, other times we will recommend a more “wholistic” approach as depicted in the diagram below:

Pet Pain Management

What pain medications are available for my pet?

There are a variety of pain medications we may prescribe for your pet, although there are more choices available for dogs than cats. Listed are three common pain meds plus used for pets. We have also included a fourth item which is used for arthritis.

  • NSAIDS (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) reduce swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. We may use NSAIDS for acute pain, such as after a surgery, or for chronic pain, like arthritis. Carprofen (Rimadyl) is a common NSAID prescribed for dogs, while we use meloxicam for cats. If your dog is on NSAIDS long-term, your pet’s blood will need to be periodically tested (Initially and then every 6 months) to ensure there are no adverse effects.
  • Tramadol – is a mild pain killer that works on the brain, rather than directly on the pain/inflammation location, like NSAIDS. Tramadol may be prescribed for acute or chronic pain. It also may be used in conjunction with other meds when your pet has a cough. Please do not use “human” tramadol for your pet. Some human tramadol products include additional active ingredients not suitable for pets, in addition extended release capsules may not properly dissolve in your pet’s digestive tract.
  • Buprenorphine (BPX) – is a stronger pain killer that works directly on the brain. It is normally used for acute pain, especially post-surgical.
  • Adequan (PSAG) – while not a true pain med is used for arthritis. Adequan improves joint fluid characteristics by improving cartilage function, reducing cartilage damage and inflammation. PSGAG has been approved for the control of signs associated with non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic arthritis in dogs. This medication improves joint fluid characteristics by improving cartilage function, reducing cartilage damage, and inflammation.

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What pain meds shouldn’t I give to my pet for pain?

Most human pain medications like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) should not be given to your pet as they are dangerous. Cats should never get any human pain medications including aspirin.

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What are the possible adverse side effects of pain medications my pet may be prescribed?

  • NSAIDS – Not eating, eating less, change in drinking habits, lethargy, depression or change of behavior, vomiting diarrhea, black or bloody stool, change in urination habits, yellowing of gums, skin or white of eyes, changes in skin (scabs, redness and/or scratching). As with all drugs in this class, gastrointestinal and renal side effects may occur. These are normally mild, but may be serious. In field studies, the most common side effects were gastrointestinal signs of vomiting, diarrhea and reduced appetite and if used post-surgically, incision site leakage. Adverse effects are very rare, less than 3-5 events in 5000 patients who use NSAID’s. If you see gastrointestinal signs, STOP THE MEDICATION IMMEDIATELY AND CONTACT US AT (440)234-5831 OR THE EMERGENCY CLINIC AT (216) 362-6000 AFTER HOURS.
  • Tramadol appears to be well tolerated in dogs, but use has been quite limited to date. Potentially, it could cause a variety of adverse effects associated with its pharmacological actions, including CNS effects (agitation, anxiety, tremor dizziness) or GI (poor appetite, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea).
  • Buprenorphine (BPX) – Although rare, respiratory depression appears to be the major adverse effect to monitor with this agent, but because it has only recently been used in veterinary medicine, other adverse effects may be noted. The primary side effect seen in humans is sedation (sleepiness) with an incidence of approximately 66%.
  • Adequan – Adverse effects are unlikely when using the IM route. Intraarticular administration may cause a post-injection inflammation (joint pain, effusion, swelling and associated lameness) secondary to sensitivity reactions, traumatic injection technique, overdosage, number or frequency of injections. Treatment consisting of anti-inflammatory drugs, cold hydrotherapy, and rest is recommended. Although rare, joint sepsis secondary to injection is also potentially possible; strict aseptic technique should be employed to minimize its occurrence. In dogs, a dose-related inhibition of coagulation/hemostasis has been described.

 

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What part does nutrition play in pain management?

Feeding your pet the right amount of the right food can help your pet stay healthier. Our nutrition recommendations will depend on the problem your pet is facing. But keeping extra pounds off your pet will help them deal better with many problems including chronic problems like arthritis, kidney disease, and heart problems. Sometimes, your pet will need to be on a prescription diet to deal with a specific problem. Click here for the 4 Keys to Proper Nutrition

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Are there supplements that can help my pet, especially for “Chronic problems”?

Sometimes your pet will need an extra amount of certain nutritional supplements that will help treat the causes of your pet’s pain. Your pet may benefit from supplements that help joints, liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal, and dental problems. Click here to learn more about Nutritional Supplements

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How can physical therapy help my pet?

Just like us pets can benefit from physical therapy for specific areas your pet may be in pain. Our medical team will make recommendations on home exercises you can do for your pet. We may also make recommendations for water therapy (under water treadmill) or massage therapy. Note, massaging your dog or cat from head to tail will help relax and soothe him. This is also a great way to bond with your 4-legged friend as well as notice anything unusual, like lumps, scrapes, bruises, or even ticks. Be careful though as you massage, your otherwise gentle pet may react if she has a particular pain spot.

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How much should I exercise my pet if they are in pain?

The simple answer is – consult us. Things like what types of exercise should I do with my pet, how much you should walk your pet, and, even, what and how much should you feed your pet will depend on the pain. Our team will provide you instructions especially for post-surgical procedures.

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How can I make an appointment for my pet?

To make an appointment for your 4-legged family member, call (440) 234-5831 or click here to Request an Appointment online

Please let us know what office you would like to bring your pet.

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