Pet owners spend the most time with their beloved dog or cat. You get to know them not only at a physical level but on a personal level as well. You can read their moods and can tell when they are happy and want to play or when they just want to be left alone.
If your dog or cat is in pain, you will also likely be the first one to notice. You can spot when something is off with them and rush them to the vet. After all, your dog won’t be able to tell you if they are hurting neither will they tell you where the pain is located. They will just sit there and look sorry for themselves.
After any treatment or surgery, it is crucial to manage the pain so that your pet recovers to their optimum and they do not suffer too much.
Let’s discover more about the importance of pain management for your pet.
Why you should track your pet’s pain
Taking your pet to the vet for treatment is one thing but you also need to make sure that you track the pain. If your pet is advanced in age and is experiencing arthritic conditions such as osteoporosis, tracking pain ensures that it doesn’t get worse. Sometimes, you may only be looking to pet your dog only to have them yelp in pain.
Tracking pain means you can promptly talk to the vet and they will prescribe the right pain medication. This ensures that the pain doesn’t advance and that their quality of life is improved. Keep in mind that there are side effects of pain relief for dogs and it is important to understand them.
Many people are tempted to give their pets human pain medication. However, note that this is a dangerous thing to do as pets metabolize drugs differently from us. Consequently, some human medication may prove fatal to pets.
Pain is a sensory and emotional reaction to external or sometimes internal stimuli. Pain is not always a bad thing as it signifies to the animal of a threat and helps our pets remain safe.
Note that different animals will respond differently to pain. Continual pain, however, doesn’t have any benefit to the animal and only lowers the quality of life, causing your pet to suffer unnecessarily. It is therefore important to manage pain in pets.
Treating and managing the pain
Treating and managing pain in dogs should be a collaborative effort between the pet owner and the vet. After all, it is the pet owner who is spending the most time with the pet and will thus the first to notice anything out of the ordinary. The vet, on the other hand, will decide on the right way to treat the pain.
That said, some of the measures that you can take for pain management include:
- Providing proper and comfortable bedding
- Reducing exercise as per the recommendations of the vet
- Taking the pet for physical therapy
- Taking the pet for any additional therapy needed and as advised by the vet.
Pain slows recovery time in pets
If your pet had an injury and they needed surgery, the doctor may recommend downtime. This is where the pet spends most of its time lying down as they heal. However, sometimes the best recovery requires a combination of pain management and mobility.
Compare this to a situation where the pet is not using one of their legs. The muscles in these legs will likely deteriorate. Keeping your pet active will help develop muscle mass and take them back to their original state.
However, it is not possible to keep your pet moving when they are in tremendous pain. Therefore reducing pain through pain management will help your pet recover faster as they can move with less pain.
Arthritic cats cannot use the litterbox
If your cat is arthritic and experiencing joint pain, they may not be able to use the little box as efficiently as they did when they were younger. Because of this, inexperienced owners may interpret it as a behavioral problem and may even consider euthanasia.
However, your cat may still have a lot of days ahead to enjoy life if only they receive proper pain management. Remember that any type of medication and physical therapy should be in conjunction with the vet. After treatment, you may notice that the cat is now able to use the litterbox.
Can result in maladaptive pain
When a cat or dog is experiencing extreme pain, they may bite, chew or lick an area continuously. This will cause further wounds and more pain. As a pet owner, you will find yourself having to visit the vet for reasons other than the initial problem that caused the pain in the first place.
If this is left unchecked, your pet can cause self-mutilation. This is one more important reason why it is crucial to deal and manage pain in its initial stages and to always stay vigilant in case your pet is experiencing any pain.
A danger to family members
An animal that is in pain will want to be left alone and may turn grumpy and aggressive if anyone comes too close. Furthermore, a dog or cat may lash out and bite a family member or a kid. And the disappointing thing about such an incidence is that the child may only be trying to pet the dog or cat.
Being in tune with your pet’s behavior will help you notice any discomfort or pain that they may be experiencing and will prompt you to take the animal to the vet. The pain will be managed and this will help keep your pet approachable and less likely to bite and injure a family member.
Another reason to manage pain experienced by your pet is that it may result in weight loss. If pets are unable to get up and feed themselves due to the pain, they will quickly experience loss of weight. Even while you may not be able to completely get rid of the pain, reducing the pain experienced by your pet through pain management will ensure that the animal can at least get up and feed itself.
Things could be worse if your pet is experiencing oral pain. In this case, the pain may cause the animal to be unable to eat. Prolonged pain may result in starvation and eventual death.
Grooming and basic coat care becomes hard
If your dog has long fur, then they are more likely to shed their coats and drop fur in the house. What’s more, if the costs are not managed regularly, they become untidy and will attract fleas. These little bloodsuckers will only cause the health of your dog or cat to deteriorate.
If the dog or cast is experiencing extreme pain on their body, grooming and brushing their coats becomes difficult. It is hard to see your pet yelp in pain every time you try and brush their coats, thus, the need for pain management.
Pain can make movement difficult. However, pets need exercise just as much as we do otherwise they run the risk of becoming overweight. This comes with its share of health concerns such as diabetes. Moreover being overweight can result in more pain. If your dog is arthritic, the extra weight will make it harder on the joints. Take a look at a proper diet for dogs with arthritis.
Through proper pain management techniques, you can help reduce the pain experienced by your pet and ensure that your dog or cat is getting much-needed exercise.
On the other hand, pain could cause your pet to become restless and irritable. Pet owners can easily interpret this as being nervous. Consequently, they will not take the animal to the vet early enough which could further make the pain worse and leave their pet suffering.
As soon as you notice abnormal behavior in your pet, make sure to observe any signs of pain. If it is not very obvious to you, take the pet to the vet to get a proper diagnosis. You may be surprised to find an underlying problem that you never would have thought.
The risk of constipation
Constipation is also a serious risk that could be caused by a lack of movement and exercise. It can cause other problems such as vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss and lethargy.
Note that one of the main functions of the large intestines is water absorption. When the stool remains in the large intestines for too long, most of the water will be absorbed, leaving it hard. It can then cause injury of the large intestines due to straining.
Pain management helps your pet defecate more easily and helps avoid some of the concerns associated with constipation.
Inability to move
Excessive pain experienced by your pet may cause it to become listless. This is where it is simply too agonizing to move. This can bring with it a host of other issues such as the inability to defecate, inability to feed themselves, starvation, etc.
Often, the pain just started small and as the problem causing the pain advanced, so did the resulting pain. This is why it is important to ensure that you take your pet to the vet as soon as you realize or notice something out of the ordinary with them.
Heightened aggression towards other animals
When your dog or cat is experiencing pain, they will not only show signs of aggression to family members but also to other animals as well. This is because they can view other animals as likely to cause them even more pain. And if your pet anticipates the possibility of pain from another animal, it may attack unpredictably.
Because of this, it is best to ensure that your pet is placed in a spot where they do not come into contact with other dogs or pets. If you have multiple pets, keep the one in pain isolated after taking them to the vet. This allows them to relax and calm down and make them heal quicker.
Increased stress levels
Pain causes the animal to release stress hormones in the bloodstream. Some of these hormones such as cortisol have many negative side effects which include:
- Slow wound healing and recovery
- Heightened blood pressure,
- Lengthy hospital stays resulting in more costs for the owner.
Other than the stress and suffering that pain causes, there are also ethical reasons for pain management. When your beloved pet is suffering, you will not be at ease. Pain management will give you peace of mind knowing that you are doing the best you can to alleviate the suffering.
Using the observation technique
The best way to check for signs of pain is by observing your pet. Has their energy levels decreased significantly? Are they slow to get up and lie down? Do they constantly lick a certain part of their body? Are they hesitant to jump? Are they walking slower than usual? Are they limping?
All these are signs that your pet could be in pain and it’s a high time to take them to the vet before the situation gets worse.
The vet will evaluate and diagnose your pet. They will then perform any procedures if necessary and provide pain medication. Throughout healing, keep observing for any progress or lack thereof. One good way of doing this is by using videos.
If you notice that your pet is back to their usual jolly mood, do not be tempted to stop the medication and ensure that they complete the prescription.
Pain is an important part of life. When it comes to our pets, it teaches them important life lessons such as what to avoid and how to remain safe. However, when pain is prolonged, it serves no purpose and in fact, has negative effects on the body.
The last thing a devoted pet owner wants to deal with is seeing their beloved pet suffer from extreme pain. Once you take your pet to the vet, they will be able to diagnose the problem and advise you on pain management techniques. Remember that managing pain is a collaborative effort between both you and the vet.