Chronic pain can affect pets of all types and ages, unfortunately we usually don't notice the signs until our companion's quality of life is greatly reduced. Here, our Baton Rouge vets discuss the symptoms and causes of chronic pain in dogs and cats and what treatment options are available for your pet.
What is Chronic Pain in Cats and Dogs?
We always hope to love and care for our furry companions as though they were one of our own human family members, and while we can do a pretty good job at it there may be conditions that we just can't prevent. Chronic pain is one such condition that not only causes your pet pain but also can drastically reduce their quality of life.
How to Know if Your Pet Suffers From Chronic Pain
If you are concerned that your cat or dog may be suffering from chronic pain then you will want to note any signs and symptoms that you see and bring them in for a full examination in order to rule out any other possible causes.
Your vet may utilize the following pain assessment methods in order to diagnose your pet's condition:
- Veterinary examination
- Physiologic biomarkers
- Objective measurements of gait (eg, force plate) and/or activity and movement (eg, accelerometer)
- Owner assessment of activities of daily living (ADL)
- Multifactorial clinical measurement instruments.
The Causes of Chronic Pain in Dogs and Cats
When dogs and cats experience chronic pain the most common cause is Osteoarthritis which is known to affect up to approximately 40% of pets. Some of the contributing factors for osteoarthritis include hereditary and other congenital factors which can affect pets of all ages and breeds.
Other causes of chronic pain in dogs include:
- Intervertebral disk disease IVDD
- Dental Health Problems
Treatments for Chronic Pain in Cats and Dogs
Never give your pet medications that are formulated for people. Many medications that are effective for us are toxic for pets. If your dog or cat is diagnosed with a condition resulting in chronic pain, the treatment recommended will depend upon the underlying cause of the pain.
In the case of painful dental health conditions, surgery is generally the best treatment.
Chronic pain related to cancer can be treated in a number of ways including narcotics such as Tramadol, NSAIDs such as Metacam, Previcox, Deramaxx and Rimadyl, topical medications including lidocaine, benzocaine, cortisone, or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), or drug-free therapies such as acupuncture or laser therapy.
For chronic pain caused by joint conditions such as osteoarthritis your vet may prescribe a change in diet plus dietary supplements to help fight inflammation, non-drug therapies to help reduce inflammation and soothe joints such as cold laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy or veterinary acupuncture as well as anti-inflammatory medications such as Galliprant, Rimadyl, Previcox or Metacam, painkillers such as Gabapentin or Tramadol.
Laser Therapy to Treat Chronic Pain in Dogs and Cats
Veterinary laser therapy is a fairly new method of treatment for symptoms related to various disorders and is most commonly used to help manage pain, inflammation, and wound healing for your pet.
Therapeutic lasers use light waves of a specific wavelength to alter the physiology of the affected tissues. The light emitted by these lasers throughout treatment will help to stimulate the cells within the tissues and allows for faster cellular regeneration.
The wavelength of the laser used will determine the tissue that can be affected. Most commonly used lasers emit near-infrared light with the use of lower wavelength lasers becoming more common. Low-wavelength lasers are used to treat areas near and involving the skin while the higher wavelength lasers are able to focus on deep tissue repair.
Speak to your vet if you would like to learn more about how your cat or dog may benefit from veterinary laser therapy.
Veterinary Acupuncture For Pets
Vet acupuncture is a treatment that has been used for centuries in China to relieve pain and treat a host of illnesses in people. Now vets trained in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM) are able to offer animal acupuncture as well.
Acupuncture for pets is performed by a trained veterinary professional and aims to treat and manage the symptoms of illnesses and disorders by inserting ultra-thin needles into specific points on the body where nerves and blood vessels intersect.
Animals at any stage of life from puppies and kittens to adult and senior pets can undergo veterinary acupuncture treatment for a range of health conditions. Cat and dog acupuncture treatments are considered a safe and effective therapy that may provide relief from the pain or discomfort associated with injury and illness.
Is Pet Acupuncture Safe for My Cat or Dog?
Vet acupuncture has been used successfully on a variety of different animal species, including cats, dogs, rabbits, and horses. Your Baton Rouge veterinarian will be able to inform you whether pet acupuncture is a suitable therapy option for your specific circumstances.
Because the needles used in dog and cat acupuncture are so small, most pets do not require pain treatment or sedation to endure a veterinary acupuncture session.
How Many Sessions Will My Pet Need?
Because every pet is unique and has distinct reasons for seeking veterinary acupuncture therapy, the number of sessions required to treat your pet will vary greatly. Your veterinarian can give you an estimate of how many sessions will benefit your pet, but keep in mind that this may change as the treatment progresses.
How Can Vet Acupuncture Benefit My Dog?
Here is a list of reasons why pet acupuncture can help your dog.
1. Pain Management & Relief
Veterinary acupuncture for both cats and dogs has been demonstrated to trigger the body's own pain-relieving endorphins and anti-inflammatory chemicals, which can aid in the relief of chronic pain. Strong medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, which can be painful, are frequently combined with acupuncture to help make a pet more comfortable. Dog and cat acupuncture can also help with chronic inflammatory disorders like arthritis.
2. Improved Digestive Function
Pet acupuncture may aid in the normalization of digestive activity by stimulating digestive secretions and increasing blood flow to the body. Veterinary acupuncture's enhanced blood flow can help with gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and nausea.
3. Improved Respiratory Function
Vet acupuncture can benefit pets suffering from respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to offer relaxing and immune-system calming characteristics, as well as the ability to treat animals with breathing problems. Acupuncture's immune-calming and anti-inflammatory properties assist dogs as well.
4. Promotes Healing
The insertion of needles at pre-determined places is thought to boost blood flow, which is essential for healing and can actually speed up the process. It also stimulates your pet's natural waste disposal mechanism, which assists in the removal of all poisons and waste from their body.
5. Can Aid in Skin Problems
Veterinary acupuncture is a popular treatment for cats and dogs who have skin issues such as allergic dermatitis, granulomas, or hot spots. The increased circulation can promote healing.
Bonus: Can Help With Musculoskeletal Issues
Dog and cat acupuncture can help with musculoskeletal issues such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, and nerve damage. It is frequently used during injury rehabilitation.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.