2001-Sat Dec 10 19:21:26 MST 2016
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Dogs, especially certain breeds, tend to be stoic when it comes to
pain. But simply because they don't outwardly complain doesn't mean they aren't suffering. This is why you need to get to know your dog's normal behavior and look for subtle signs of
behavior that could indicate pain. These can include whining; limping; lethargy; loss of interest in people, other dogs, activities or eating; wandering restlessly; snapping or growling when touched; or even standing with the front legs on the ground and rear end up (indicating abdominal pain).
A dog in pain is uncomfortable, but that's not the only reason vets want to
reduce a pet's pain. Pain can slow healing, interfere with immune function and reduce appetite, all of which can place the
dog in a further debilitated state.
It's easy to conclude that a dog with a broken leg or huge laceration needs pain medication, but some illnesses can be extremely painful as well and may also require pain management. Examples are
pancreatitis, severe ear infections, cancer, glaucoma, infected teeth, impacted anal sacs,
arthritis and neck and back pain.
Preventing pain is far more effective than trying to manage it after the fact. For this reason, veterinarians now give pain medication before surgery rather than waiting until the
dog awakens. Before any surgery, ask your veterinarian how your pet's pain will be addressed.
In the olden days, pain medication wasn't always given after surgery, because the belief was that if the animal didn't feel pain, he might be too active and possibly tear out his sutures while playing. This is no longer the accepted approach, and you should ask that your dog receive appropriate pain medication before any painful surgery. Even for minor procedures, such as a few sutures, or for more invasive procedures, including
spaying, and especially any orthopedic procedure, presurgical pain medications should be provided whenever possible.
One class of commonly prescribed pain medications for postsurgical use or for chronic pain includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); these help reduce inflammation, which in turn reduces pain. Some owners are concerned about side effects of certain NSAIDs in dogs. This is why they should be taken only under your veterinarian's supervision, usually with blood testing before the medications are started and periodic rechecks while the pet is taking them to make sure no adverse effects are occurring. Side effects are rare, but if they are seen, your veterinarian can usually try another drug.
Do not give your dog human pain medications unless your veterinarian has directed you to do so. For chronic pain, such as that of arthritis, weight loss (if needed), physical therapy, nutraceuticals, cartilage protectants and other therapies can help reduce pain.
Acupuncture has also been credited with pain relief in many instances. For localized pain, your veterinarian may be able to inject a local anesthetic.
Although your dog may not complain, be sure to act as his advocate and provide him with proper pain relief.
More on Vetstreet:
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
We combed through 505,270 kitten
names to determine the hottest male
and female monikers of the year.
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
Christmas trees, fatty foods and other
seasonal items may bring cheer to your
home, but they'll cause harm to your…
Dr. Sarah Wooten takes a closer look at
this curious sleeping habit and what it has
to do with canines’ ancestry.
The Kromfohrlander is said to be
descended from a mixed-breed dog
who was a mascot for American troops.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.