FAQ's ABOUT PET PAIN
1) Do animals feel pain like we do?
Yes, they do. Research in recent years has shown that the have the same neuro pathways we do and they perceive pain much the same.
2) I heard it’s bad to give animals pain medication after surgery or trauma because they will feel too good and re-injure themselves or not heal properly.
The exact opposite is in fact true. Pain is a stressor to the body, and a complex series of reactions take place in the body when faced with it. Studies have shown that animals in pain actually do not heal as quickly as those given adequate pain relief, and untreated pain increases the rate of morbidity (death).
3) My pet does not cry out, so it must not be in pain.
False. Just as in us, there are many different levels of pain and they do not all make us cry out or scream in response to them. For example, the pain of a sore muscle or arthritis does not cause the same intensity of pain as say, slamming your finger in the drawer. Besides this, animals are genetically “wired” to hide pain. Their ancestors in the wild would become prey or extracted from the pack at any sign of injury. All levels of pain in your pet should be treated to give them and longer, better quality of life.
TREATING YOUR PET’S PAIN
Whether your pet has chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis, a traumatic injury or a surgical procedure, their pain relief is our top priority. In the past, veterinarians believed that animals did not feel pain the same was as humans, and therefore, did not provide analgesia to their patients. Another popular belief was that if you relieved an animal’s pain, they would not heal properly or re-injure themselves. Unfortunately, these practices are still going on today. Therefore, it is up to you, to make sure your pet receives adequate pain relief depending upon the situation.
There are also some misconceptions that pet owners have about their pet’s pain. Many people falsely believe that if their pet is not crying out, they must not be in pain. If this is you, do not feel bad. In a survey given to veterinarians a couple of years back, the majority of respondents said that the first sign of pain in their patients is crying out. This is definitely not true. Just as in us, there are different levels of pain, and we do not scream or cry with all of them. Pain is treated like a vital sign at Coppell Veterinary Hospital. That is why every time we examine your pet, we assess them a pain score on a scale of 1-10. Based upon that assessment, we treat their pain.
Animals survival in the wild prior to domestication relied upon them being able to hide their pain or injuries. If they did not, they would be extracted from the pack or become prey. Our dogs and cats still have those instincts, and it can sometimes be difficult even for professionals identify their level of pain. If you notice any changes to your pet’s behavior, activity level, appetite or attitude, it may be related to pain. Bring them in immediately for evaluation, because it is easier to treat pain early, then when it is out of control. Untreated, chronic pain can be very difficult to treat.
SURGICAL PAIN RELIEF
Anytime your pet has a procedure where tissue is cut into, they will experience pain. At Coppell Veterinary Hospital, we anticipate the level of pain for the procedure your pet will undergo and attack it before, during, and after the surgery. We practice what is called the multi-modal approach to pain management. This is the use of multiple therapies to control pain. The result is synergistic, meaning it has a better effect than any one therapy alone. It is especially critical to administer pain medication prior to the procedure, to prevent what is called “wind up”. If you only treat pain after the procedure, all the complex reactions the body goes through to heal the surgical trauma have begun, inflammation being one of them, and it becomes much harder to treat that pain. This results in greater post-surgical pain, which now means you have to administer higher doses of pain medication, which cause more side effects, not to mention not control your pet’s pain as effectively.
Dr. Stearman and Angie Best, RVT are both members of IVAPM (International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and continually strive to learn the latest and greatest in controlling pain in dogs and cats.
To learn more about managing pet pain, you may find the below links helpful.
Monday - Thursday
8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday
For after hours Emergency Care Call 817-410-2273
Animal Emergency Hospital of North Texas