Here are answers to your frequently asked questions on Pet Pain Management:
How do I know my pet hurts?
There are no tried and true behaviors associated with pain. Frequently, subtle changes in movement, lethargy, appetite, interaction, energy, focus, and even basic life functions (eating, urinating, defecating, and scratching) are the only "signs" of pain in our pets. It's even more difficult when owners live with an animal day in and day out, frequently not realizing their decline over time. What a pet shows you too, will depend on its individual personality, breed, species (cats and certain dog breeds hide pain particularly well), the problem (an injured nail is very painful, osteoarthritis is mildly painful) and even its age (younger and geriatric animals are frequently more sensitive than mid aged patients). That's why it's important for your pet to have an annual exam that focuses on signs of pain and quality of life.
What are some of the diseases that cause pain in dogs and cats?
Cancer, dental disease, dermatitis, and arthritis are a few top causes of chronic pain in our veterinary patients. Acute pain can be caused by trauma, ligament or tendon tears or pulls, gastrointestinal disturbances (such as pancreatitis), urinary issues (kidney and bladder infections, calculi), skin/ear/eye diseases, and even neurologic conditions (disc or back joint, known as "facet" nerve pinching).
How is pain diagnosed?
Pain is often diagnosed by a solid physical exam including observation, history taking, palpation and gait analysis. Generalized blood and urine tests can be performed to assess organ function and dysfunction, often the first signs of problems internally. Radiographs (x-rays) can be taken to assess musculoskeletal issues; ultrasound is usually performed to confirm abdominal diseases or changes in tendons/ligaments/muscles ("soft" tissues around a joint). Advanced imaging usually implies or means Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography scans (CT scans) and is done once basic testing fails to yield an answer as to from whence the pain comes.
What can be done to treat pain in my pet?
The last decade has produced a number of new and exciting drug choices to treat pain in both pets and people. These drugs can be compounded into liquid, transdermal, even at home injectable formulations allowing ease of administration for difficult to treat patients. Parkside Veterinary Hospital also offers a variety of myofascial techniques, in home rehabilitation programs, therapeutic ultrasound and cold laser therapies, alternative and complementary treatments (acupuncture included) as well as joint injections, perineural injections, infusion therapies (substance administration through intravenous catheters which slows the transmission of pain)and even mobility devices (orthotics, prosthetics and carts). Along with the actual techniques and drugs used to treat pain, making sure nutrition, behaviour, mobility, tummy and intestinal function, bladder and bowel control, appetite, skin and mucous membrane issues are under control all assist with improved quality of life. Chronic pain is not treated easily with any one technique, but multimodal treatment (meaning several therapies used together) can truly reduce pain and make life better for your pet. Our veterinarians are committed to balancing all the "quality of life" indicators for your pet to relieve pain regardless of the problem.
Despite the fact that medicines and surgery correct many issues, managing an animal's pain is fundamental to treatment. Frequently owners cannot afford more aggressive therapy for cancer or even arthritis... but the pain and suffering of the problems even as severe as these, can be managed easily and effectively. Please feel free to ask to speak to our veterinarians about the many alternatives for treating your pet's pain.