Because chronic pain tends to come on gradually the signs can be difficult to spot. Nonetheless, it's important to understand that dogs suffering from chronic pain can experience a serious decline in quality of life. But there's good news, effective treatments are available. Our Mooresville vets explain.
Chronic Pain & Your Dog's Quality of Life
We always hope to love and care for our canine companions as though they were one of our own human family members, and while we can do a pretty good job at it there may be conditions that we just can't prevent. Chronic pain is one such condition that not only causes your dog pain but also can drastically reduce their quality of life.
Signs of Chronic Pain in Dogs
If you are concerned that your canine companion may be suffering from chronic pain then you will want to note any signs and symptoms that you see and bring them in for a full examination in order to rule out any other possible causes.
Your vet may utilize the following pain assessment methods in order to diagnose your dog's condition:
- Veterinary examination
- Physiologic biomarkers
- Objective measurements of gait (eg, force plate) and/or activity and movement (eg, accelerometer)
- Owner assessment of activities of daily living (ADL)
- Multifactorial clinical measurement instruments.
Conditions That Can Cause Chronic Pain in Dogs
When dogs experience chronic pain the most common cause is Osteoarthritis affecting approximately 40% of dogs. Some of the contributing factors for osteoarthritis include hereditary and other congenital factors which can affect dogs of all ages and breeds.
Other causes of chronic pain in dogs include:
Treatments for Chronic Pain in Dogs
Never give your dog medications that are formulated for people. Many medications that are effective for us are toxic for pets. If your dog is diagnosed with a condition resulting in chronic pain, the treatment recommended will depend upon the underlying cause of the pain.
In the case of painful dental health conditions, surgery is generally the best treatment.
Chronic pain related to cancer can be treated a number of ways including surgery as well as narcotics such as Tramadol, NSAIDs such as Metacam, Previcox, Deramaxx and Rimadyl, topical medications including lidocaine, benzocaine, cortisone, or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), or drug-free therapies such as acupuncture or laser therapy.
For chronic pain caused by joint conditions such as osteoarthritis your vet may prescribe a change in diet plus dietary supplements to help fight inflammation, non-drug therapies to help reduce inflammation and soothe joints such as cold laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy or acupuncture, anti-inflammatory medications such as Galliprant, Rimadyl, Previcox or Metacam, painkillers such as Gabapentin or Tramadol.
The most effective treatment for IVDD (or intervertebral disk disease) is typically surgery but various medications and therapies such as laser therapy and acupuncture may also be helpful in making your dog feel more comfortable and improving mobility.
Laser Therapy to Treat Chronic Pain in Dogs
Veterinary laser therapy is a fairly new method of treatment for symptoms related to various disorders and is most commonly used to help manage pain, inflammation, and wound healing for your pet.
Therapeutic lasers use light waves of a specific wavelength to alter the physiology of the affected tissues. The light emitted by these lasers throughout treatment will help to stimulate the cells within the tissues and allows for faster cellular regeneration.
The wavelength of the laser used will determine the tissue that can be affected. Most commonly used lasers emit near-infrared light with the use of lower wavelength lasers becoming more common. Low-wavelength lasers are used to treat areas near and involving the skin while the higher wavelength lasers are able to focus on deep tissue repair.
Speak to your vet if you would like to learn more about how your dog may benefit from veterinary laser therapy.