When you feel a headache coming on, do you promptly head to the medicine cabinet for a pain reliever, or do you choose to suffer the throbbing pain for hours on end? Like people, our pets experience pain as a result of numerous health conditions, ranging from arthritis to glaucoma to cancer. The difference between people and pets is that people have the ability to adequately communicate and advocate for help. Animals, on the other hand, are stoic creatures, who often try to minimize signs of pain or weakness as a means of survival. Therefore, our job is to look for and promptly address subtle signs of pain in our pets. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you advocate for your pet.
Do watch your pet closely
Has Fluffy been refusing her breakfast lately? Is Buddy lagging behind on walks? Does Sammy get up slow in the morning? Different types of pain can cause different signs and symptoms. A dog suffering from muscle or joint pain may be hesitant to go for a walk, or may favor one limb over another. Ocular pain may manifest as squinting or pawing at the eye. Internal pain could cause inappetence, vomiting, or diarrhea. Of course, none of these signs are exclusive to one condition and, in fact, many disorders can cause a multitude of symptoms. Your job is not to attempt to diagnose your pet, but rather to monitor for abnormal signs or behaviors. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, take some notes and schedule an appointment with our team.
If you notice that Percy isn’t jumping onto the cat tree anymore, or that Fido is visibly limping on your daily walks together, call us without delay. Most pets will attempt to hide their pain as much as they can for as long as they can. Therefore, once your pet shows obvious signs of discomfort, she may be suffering with excruciating pain. While it is never too late to have your pet examined for a painful condition, taking her for veterinary care as soon as possible is certainly more kind. Your pet needs you to watch out for her to ensure she does not suffer.
Do talk about it
Fifteen million dogs present every year for osteoarthritis pain, which is only one of many painful conditions that pets endure. If you have pet-owning friends, chances are at least one has a furry friend who experiences or has experienced pain. Find out what your friends are doing to alleviate their pets’ discomfort. You may find that Sally’s dog with arthritis benefits greatly from swimming, while Brian’s cat with sacral pain responds well to laser therapy. Of course, talk with your veterinarian before beginning any new regimen for your pet.
Don’t do it yourself
If you notice that your shih tzu, Charlie, hasn’t been jumping on the bed recently, don’t assume that he has arthritis in his hips like Rover, the old Labrador retriever down the street. Attempting to diagnose your pet can be dangerous, and may interfere with him receiving appropriate care and treatment. More importantly, do not give your pet any medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Many over-the-counter pain relievers for people, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen, can be incredibly toxic to pets. Never give your pet expired medications, or medications that were previously prescribed for a different condition. Do not mix medications without talking with your veterinarian.
Do come prepared
Before heading in for your appointment with Bruno, make a list of all of the changes you’ve noticed in your pet, including appetite, lameness, behavior changes, attitude, and elimination habits. If you’ve tried any remedies or therapies at home, tell your veterinarian. Mention what you’ve heard from your friends and what has worked for their pets. Come with questions—with the many recent advancements in pain management, you and your veterinarian can choose the best option for your pet and his condition.
Be your pet’s advocate and do not hesitate to contact us to set up an appointment.