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Improving Quality of Life Through Chronic Pain Management

A primary goal of Willowbend Animal Hospital is to improve the quality of life for its patients. Chronic pain often goes undetected and untreated. The result is that the pet lives silently in pain, unable to enjoy life to the fullest

The pet owner’s lack of perception that the pet is painful plays a major role in this. This lack of perception is fueled by three factors:

  1. The fact that dogs and cats do not act like people do when they are painful;
  2. Failure by the veterinarian in diagnosing that the pet is painful; and
  3. Failure of the veterinary health care team in educating the pet owner about symptoms of chronic pain and available treatment options.

The solution to this problem is to first realize that dogs and cats are not people; therefore we should not expect them to behave as we would if we were painful. A dog is a pack animal. Showing signs of pain is considered a sign of weakness in a pack; one risks being demoted in the pack or even killed if weakness is perceived. Cats are solitary and often tend to seclude themselves when they are painful. Just because they are not crying does not mean they are not painful.

Signs of Chronic Pain in Pets

Signs of chronic pain include:

  • Reluctance to take walks of usual length
  • Stiffness (that may disappear once the pet has ‘warmed up’)
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, climbing in the car, on the bed or a sofa
  • Difficulty rising from rest
  • Limping
  • Abnormal gait
  • Licking of a single joint
  • Acting withdrawn, spending less time playing with family (which is often misunderstood as a sign of ‘aging’)
  • Soreness when touched
  • Rarely, aggression when touched or approached
  • Not sleeping well, restless
  • Panting excessively
  • Pacing, trembling, shaking

Pain Evaluation as Part of Routine Checkup

Pain evaluation is now considered a “vital sign.” Every patient examined must be evaluated for evidence of pain. At Willowbend Animal Hospital, we take this very seriously. EVERY PATIENT, EVERY TIME.

No shortcuts — every pet is examined, even on a wellness visit, for evidence of pain.

Modern pain management involves the use of multi-modal therapy. This philosophy of pain management means pain can be better controlled by using more than one mode of treatment. When using multiple methods of pain control a cumulative effect is seen and the patient often experiences a higher degree of pain relief.

Do You Think Your Pet May Be Living in Pain?

Contact us today to schedule an evaluation.