Pain, surgery, medication, arthritis, changes, eat, walking, behavior, away, prescription
I had some rather painful surgery a few years ago and it made me appreciate how stoic our cats and dogs truly are. I was bedridden for a few weeks. It is not uncommon for my cat and dog patients who have undergone the same procedure to be up and around after only a few days. Now, was I just of a wuss or do our pets not feel pain to the same extent that we do? Dogs and cats are basically wired for pain in the same fashion that we are. Though they demonstrate their discomfort differently, they still require safe and effective pain management. .
It is important to understand why our reactions vary. It goes back to survival of the fittest. Pain can be a sign of weakness and infirmity. If an animal is not strong and robust, it may be the prey rather than the predator. Tolerating pain and working through it are survival mechanisms.
When I was in veterinary school, we were taught that `some pain' was good. A pet that was in some distress after surgery or following an injury was less likely to be too active or cause further harm to itself. At the time, there were very few medications available for the control of pain. Thankfully all of that has changed.
Research has proven that pain is very detrimental to the quality of an animal's life as well as a deterrent to the healing process. Pain causes a cascade of chemical reactions in the body. The immune system is adversely affected. A pet may worry an area causing secondary damage and complications.
It is now the standard of care that all pets be given medication to mitigate discomfort before, during and after potentially painful procedures. Safe and effective drugs are even available for use in long term situations such as osteoarthritis, the most common cause of pain in dogs
But how do you know if your pet is in pain? What signs should you look for? Each pet, like each person, has different thresholds to pain. Some common signs are.
- Reluctance to eat
- Hesitancy to go for a walk or climb stairs
- Licking or biting at a body part
- Being reclusive, not wanting to interact with the family
- Change of attitude - being grouchy or seeking extra attention
- Favoring a leg, walking stiffly, or a change in gait
- Not wanting to be touched
- Any change in behavior that says the pet is not enjoying life
If you notice any of these signs, be sure to bring them to your veterinarian's attention. Insuring the best quality of life, free of pain, is what we want for ourselves as well as our pets. Though we often treat our pets like children, they are not human. Medications prescribed for you should never be given to your pet. Even drugs that are dispensed to one pet in your home may have dire consequences if given to another. Always ask your veterinarian before administering any medication not specifically prescribed for that particular pet or that particular situation.
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