Pain Management For Your Dog
Like humans, dogs are happier when they are healthy and pain-free. The thing is, it’s not always obvious when a dog is experiencing discomfort. It’s up to dog owners to learn about signs and symptoms of pain so it can be managed.
CAUSES OF PAIN
Pain can be caused by infections, injuries and diseases. With ageing also comes certain degenerative changes in the body.
Conditions and illnesses that can cause pain:
- Ear infection
- Gum disease
- Cystitis: bladder inflammation
- Slipped disc: a common cause of paralysis
- Pancreatitis: inflammation of the pancreas
- Osteoarthritis (OA): also known as degenerative joint disease
- Peritonitis: Inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen
- Cancer: common tumours in dogs include lymphoma, haemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumours and osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR DOG IS EXPERIENCING PAIN
Certain symptoms could be signs that your dog is experiencing pain. Ask yourself, ‘Is my dog…’
- Experiencing diarrhoea
- Having trouble sleeping
- Not eating or eating less
- Sluggish or unresponsive
- Limping or moving strangely
- Continuously licking the same spot
- Flattening her or his ears against their head
- Seeking more than the usual amount of attention
- Acting aggressively (growling, biting or snapping)
- Whining, whimpering or howling for no (obvious) reason
- Behaving differently: hiding, antisocial, unenthusiastic or restless
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOUR DOG IS EXPERIENCING PAIN
If you suspect that your dog is in any pain there are two things you should do. The first is to stay calm while you assess the situation. The second is to taken action, while remaining calm and sensible.
Whether you think it’s serious or not, many experts agree that you should contact a veterinarian immediately. You will most likely have to take your dog for a check-up. Don’t waste time guessing or trying to find solutions on your own.
Sometimes the cause of pain can be diagnosed. In cases where it cannot, pain medication could be administered to manage the pain in the meantime.
DO NOT GIVE YOUR DOG HUMAN MEDICINE
Pain Management Options
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to reduce and manage pain in dogs. A veterinarian will have to perform a physical examination and other tests if necessary to determine which medications would be most effective for the situation and your dog’s health. Make sure you get verbal and written instructions on how to administer medication and ask about possible side effects.
Behavioural changes, loss of appetite, skin problems (redness or scabs) and digestive issues (tarry stool, diarrhoea and vomiting) could indicate a negative reaction to medications/NSAIDs. Phone your veterinarian if you notice symptoms associated with your dog’s medication.
NSAIDs can help with stiffness, joint pain and swelling. For example, with the right treatment plan, dogs with osteoarthritis can enjoy a better quality of life.
There are cases where other medications need to be considered, but this will be discussed with you if and when necessary. Supplements are also available but it’s not always clear how effective they are.
Not all forms of pain can be resolved, but proper management can make a big difference in your dog’s life.
NOTE: Do not use dog medications for a dog other than the canine patient it was prescribed for.