Pain in animals

Pain relief in pets and animals is one of the most important treatments that our experienced Brandon vets, Valrico vets, and Riverview vets Dr. Mark Woodside, and Dr. Kate Heppner do every day.  Drs. Heppner and Woodside have a combined 26 years of practice in diagnosing and treating pain in dogs and cats, as well as other animals. Pets and animals often hide their pain in ways that we may not immediately recognize as a problem.  You may think your pet is “just getting old”, when in fact they are in pain! In the wild, animals mask their pain to protect the pack from predators, and when they cannot keep up, they move away from the pack to hide.  Your painful pet may be doing the same thing in your house or yard! If they are laying in places that they normally don’t, or hiding under the bed or in closets often, your pet needs to be examined by Dr. Woodside or Dr. Heppner.

Treatable clinical signs of pain, loss of mobility, and weakness in animals are unfortunately common reasons for pets to be euthanized. People also suffer from the stress that an animal in pain can cause, including loss of sleep, emotional changes, and a feeling of helplessness.  Pain management in cats or dogs is among our primary considerations when we are treating a pet for any medical condition.  The experience of pain in an animal can affect the body’s physical and mental state and its ability to function normally. Timely intervention is the key to obtaining an optimal outcome.  The goals of treating pain in animals are to reduce the discomfort and stress that the underlying problem is causing.  Obtaining a definitive diagnosis of the problem causing the pain is always an integral part of those goals. Unfortunately, age of the patient, owner financial constraints, or obvious end of the pet’s life issues sometimes keep us from being able to fully diagnose a patient.  Dr. Heppner or Dr. Woodside will always keep the pet’s comfort in mind when discussing these real, but sensitive topics.

Signs of pain in animals, dogs, or cats

Dogs or cats of any age can show one, some, or all of the following clinical signs of pain. These clinical signs of pain can be from many different things, but often they are signs of pain relating to other problems:

  • Limping
  • Taking longer to rise in front or back end
  • Muscle loss in one or multiple legs
  • Stiffness when walking
  • Dull haircoat or matted haircoat (especially cats)
  • Decreased activity
  • Falling behind on walks
  • Reluctance to jump up on furniture, counters, window sills
  • Aggression when petted or moved by the owner
  • Pacing, restlessness, panting at rest
  • Muscle wasting
  • Not using stairs anymore, either up or down
  • Trembling
  • Vocalizing, whining, crying out
  • Hiding (especially cats)
  • “Bunny hop” gait in the back legs when running or trotting
  • Sleep changes or reluctance to sleep
  • Chewing at legs or feet
  • Sitting with a particular knee (stifle) turned outwards away from the body (cruciate disease)
  • Lowered head, arched back
  • Unwillingness to lean over to eat food out of a bowl
  • Inability to “shake” body like they normally would
  • Drooped tail
  • Weight loss (especially cats)

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