Chronic Arthritis and Pain Management

When a human is in pain, he or she can call a doctor—but an animal cannot. That’s why it’s important for pet owners to watch for signs that their beloved companion is in pain.

Pain has as many manifestations as there are acute injuries, chronic conditions, and individual diseases. Pain experts define pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.”

Pain is very subjective and difficult to measure. Because dogs instinctively hide their pain to prevent potential predators from targeting them when they are injured, pain assessment in dogs can be challenging. The outward demonstrations of pain vary widely from dog to dog. It is important to recognize that just because a dog does not cry, limp, or show other obvious signs of pain, that does not mean it is not in pain.

Aspen Vet Offers the following modalities for chronic and acute pain control:

  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Laser therapy
  • Regenerative medicine: PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma Joint Injections)
  • Massage
  • Supplements and herbal guidance
  • Ice or heat packs

How can I tell if my dog is in pain?

With obvious injuries or after surgical procedures, it can reasonably be assumed that a dog will experience pain. Although the signs may be subtle, careful observation will often reveal signs of pain in most dogs. Most dogs experiencing pain alter their behavior in some way. A dog may be reluctant to climb stairs, jump into the car, show decreased activity, or resist being handled or picked up. Subtle signs may be our only clue that the dog is hurting.

Arthritic pain is common in older dogs. Anyone who has witnessed an older dog struggle to rise or be unable to stand after lying down can imagine the discomfort these dogs must endure.

Other signs of pain include (but are not limited to):

  • whimpering or vocalizing
  • becoming quiet, withdrawn, and anti-social
  • showing uncharacteristic aggressiveness when approached or touched (an attempt to protect themselves from further pain)
  • holding the ears flat against the head
  • increased licking of a painful/sensitive area
  • decreased appetite
  • reluctance to walk, run, climb stairs, jump, or play
  • stiffness or limping
  • lagging behind on walks or stopping altogether while on walks
  • changes in personality
  • increased panting and/or restlessness

Explore All of the Treatment Options

Untreated pain is something that no pet should experience. By closely observing your pet for subtle signs of pain and working with your veterinarian, you can help your dog enjoy a pain-free life. There are many veterinary treatments that can eliminate or reduce both acute and chronic pain. Talk with your veterinarian to understand what your dog’s treatment options are.

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