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Posted on 05-31-2013

Chronic pain in an important and often under diagnosed process in veterinary medicine. Many pet owners are unable to recognize that their pet is in pain. For example, we often hear that a dog limps after a walk. The owner states they do not feel the dog is in pain because the dog is happy and eating well. Meanwhile, limping is a sign the dog's leg hurts and it is in pain.

Fortunately, more recently, treatment of painful diseases such as osteoarthritis are now a major part of veterinary practice.

Also, it is reasonable to believe that animals experience pain similar to people following comparable medical and surgical conditions. Dogs and cats can present with many conditions that lead to acute and chronic pain. Some possible causes are: trauma (hit by car), orthopedic conditions (hip dysplasia, torn ACL), elective surgeries (spaying and neutering), emergency surgeries (C-section deliveries, removal of a foreign body), dental disease (extraction, gingivitis) and many medical conditions (skin disease, bladder infections, to name a couple).

Animals in pain typically exhibit the following signs: abnormal posture, abnormal gait, vocalizing, licking/chewing at a certain area on the body or restlessness/agitation.

Treatment for pain needs to be started as early in the process as possible. Most likely, we will prescribe an anti inflammatory and/or pain alleviating medication, as well as, a joint supplement (each animal is different). Specific exercise regimes will be discussed and recommended, too.

With chronicity of pain, the treatment can become much more challenging. It is imperative that owners not accept pain as an inevitable sequelae to surgery or certain medical treatments.

Also, owners need to be aware that there are alternative modalities to treat pain such as acupuncture, electrical stimulation and laser therapy.

At Eagle Animal Hospital, we believe prevention of acute and chronic pain is key. Analgesia (a type of pain medication) should be planned and instituted always before, during and after surgery, especially.

Good nursing care is important, as well. This means dry and comfortable bedding, food and water, clean dressings and empty bowels and bladder.

The good news is that the actual understanding of pain mechanisms in veterinary medicine and in pain prevention is a growing field. There are newer classes of drugs in human medicine that target chronic pain and more medications are being licensed for veterinary species.

If you feel your pet is exhibiting any type of pain, do not hesitate to call our office and have your pet examined by one of our veterinarians. We are not only happy to help but want to ensure that all of our patients are comfortable and pain free.

Eagle Animal Hospital serves Chester Springs, Downingtown, Exton, Glenmoore, and surrounding areas.

Written by Jennifer Granite, VMD

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