Monday, February 15, 2016

Tell Me Where It Hurts

Tell Me Where It Hurts

Do you ever have a headache, feel a little achy, or suffer with a throat tickle?  Do you cry every time you move? Probably not. Acute pain, the type you get when you take a wrong step or nick your finger cutting tomatoes, is sharp enough that you might cry out “Oh !@$@$!# that hurts!”

But chronic pain, that dull, always just-below-the-surface ache of arthritis or toothache, doesn’t usually equate to sound.  If you’ve ever walked around a senior citizen center, you know what I mean.
·       You don't hear a lot of screaming, and you see a lot of people walking slowly, perhaps due to a variety of aches and pains
Look, then listen

Cats with arthritis in their spines are in pain. They may not howl when they walk, but they move ever so carefully. When their pain is treated, they start jumping back on counters again.
Dogs with rotting teeth are in pain. They may not yelp when they eat, but they eat less, or slowly. Most of the time, pet owners aren't aware of the problem until it's detected by a vet or until their pet eats everything in his bowl (and your plate!) 

The rule of thumb for pain management specialists, both human and animal, is to Assume Pain; if a pet is likely to have a painful condition, go ahead and treat even if the signs aren't obvious.  Don't make
pain medications optional for your animals; pain control is just as vital as every other aspect of your medical management.

Which is worse? Pain meds or pain itself?
Many people are under the mistaken belief that most pain medications are so dangerous it’s better not to try them at all. Veterinary NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), the most commonly prescribed class of pain medications, are also the most libeled.

NSAIDs can have side effects. All drugs do. Some of them are severe. As your pet's advocate, it's up to you to provide the vet with all appropriate health history,  to understand how to properly administer the medication and what relief your pet should expect. 
Side effects of NSAID's may include:
  •         loss of appetite
  •       diarrhea
  •        vomiting
  •        ulcers       
  •        liver & kidney damage
The vast majority of patients have an excellent experience with NSAIDs when given as directed. Most of the adverse events are related to people who either wait too long to report side effects, give more than the prescribed dosage, or refuse the recommended monitoring. In other words, most are avoidable.  Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pet is suffering side effects from any NSAID.

There are other drugs out there besides NSAIDs. Adequan, Tramadol, gabapentin are just a few. Your vet may choose adjunct treatments like physical therapy, acupuncture and laser. Most animal healthcare practices now practice Multimodal Pain Management; combining medications and treatments across categories in an effort to better overall pain control.  

We'd like to suggest...
Educated owners make good decisions.When it comes to the pain of joint disease, the best treatment/prevention is free...keep your animal at a healthy weight.  Pain can be managed, even in very senior and frail patients. We just need to acknowledge that it’s there first. Don’t wait for your pet to tell you- he can’t talk.

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