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Pain management for your pet

Posted September 11, 2013 in Advice Column, West Des Moines

Pain management for your beloved pet is important. The reality is pets suffer from chronic (persistent) pain just as humans do. Our pets feel pain, but they hide it.  Sadly, as pets hide pain we usually see this manifest as a behavior problem, or consider them  normal when they are really in pain.

Pain is best characterized as a wide spectrum that transitions or transforms from “normal” pain to “windup” pain. This pain that persists after an injury or disorder has resolved is “windup” pain and is a malfunction of the nervous system. Pain is a disease that may persist despite resolution of initial causal factors. It is not a single thing with a single treatment, but is very different from one pet to the next even when the cause appears to be the same.

Why do we need to manage pain more effectively? It is becoming apparent that dogs and cats are commonly euthanized one to three years before their time because of the inability to recognize the earliest risk factors for chronic pain and to effectively manage the main influences associated with chronic pain. It is not as simple as throwing a few drugs at it.

Arthritis pain in pets is also prevalent. In pets, arthritis encompasses about 20 percent of the dog and cat population over all ages. By age 10, arthritis is present in 90 percent of pets.

Please check back next month to learn what we can do to help.

Information provided by Dr. Jen Mathis, DVM, CVJ, cVMA: acupuncturist,  Family Pet Veterinary Center, West Des Moines, 224-9750,

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