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Dog Pain Management - The Role of Veterinary Care in Dog Pain Management

What is the difference between acute and chronic pain in dogs?

Acute pain is often related to injury or trauma. These are dogs that are limping all of a sudden, or we've known they've had some type of trauma. Acute pain generally comes on suddenly and typically, with rest in some anti-inflammatories. Depending on the cause, it gets better fairly quickly. Chronic pain has been ongoing for three months or more. This is not necessarily intense pain all the time, but more of a dull, achy type of pain. And dogs with chronic pain typically require more than one modality of therapy to help control their pain.

Dr. Mitch McKee
Berry Farms Animal Hospital - Cupola Animal Hospitals

How quickly should I bring in my dog if I suspect they're in pain?

It's always best to bring your dog in as quickly as possible if you suspect they're hurting because it gives us a better chance to provide them with the relief they need.

What are some signs and symptoms of pain in your dog?

The most obvious signs would be limping, holding up a leg, or not wanting to walk or move around. We'll often see dogs that are up and moving, but they could be holding their head in a weird position, or they're hunched in the back. If they're laying around and lethargic, they're not doing their everyday activities, they're off food, they're panting or shaking, or if they're acting like their stomach hurts when the owner picks them up, those can all be symptoms of pain.

Are human pain pills like Tylenol or Advil okay to give my dog?

Tylenol and Advil for your pet is not something we recommend. It's easy to think that since these helped manage our pain, they could help manage our pet's pain, but what we know about Tylenol and ibuprofen/Advil is they can have some serious side effects mainly related to disrupting the surface of the GI tract. This leads to ulcers which could potentially get bad enough where you get a GI bleed. And if you give these medications over the long-term, they can cause kidney or liver issues. We always tell people to avoid those medications and not to use them.

What are the medications used for pain management?

We're lucky that we have many options for pain medication in our canine population. The core foundation is our nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. Many of those have been around for a long time. They're perfect for bone, joint, and soft tissue pain. They can be taken short-term or long-term depending upon the pain condition that we're treating. We also have joint supplements that can help control pain or lessen the number of medications we need to give our pets. Aside from that, there are some situations where we need steroids to control pain, and, depending upon whether it's neurologically involved or not, we may need medications that control neurologic pain, like Gabapentin or Tramadol. There are others we can use, but those are the most common.

Can a veterinarian help me manage my dog's chronic pain?

Your veterinarian will be your best source for coming up with a pain management plan for your dog because we have to take many different things into account. Mainly, what is the cause? What is the progression? How long do we suspect it could go on? And how long do we think we need to stay on medications? Are there certain things that we need to monitor depending upon what the timeline is? Because we need answers to all these questions, your veterinarian will be your best source for the best pain management plan, but you should also monitor your pet during that particular process.

Where's the best place for me to get pain medication for my dog?

The best place to get pain medication for your dog is at your vet clinic. That way, if there are any questions, reactions, or adverse effects, they can be dealt with on a timely basis. And we can adjust the medications depending upon if there are any health changes in your pet's life or not.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 283-9040, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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