Dogs that suffer from chronic pain experience a serious decline in quality of life, yet the signs of chronic pain can be difficult for even the most attentive pet parents to spot. Here, our Glendale vets discuss chronic pain in dogs, the signs, and treatments that can help your dog live more comfortably.
What is Chronic Pain in Dogs?
We always hope to love and care for our canine companions as if they were human family members, and while we can do a pretty good job of it, there may be conditions that we simply cannot avoid. Chronic pain is one such condition that not only causes pain in your dog but also has the potential to significantly reduce his or her quality of life.
How to Know if Your Dog Suffers From Chronic Pain
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.
In order to determine your dog's condition, your veterinarian may use one of the following techniques for pain assessment:
- 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.
The Causes of Chronic Pain in Dogs
Osteoarthritis, which affects about 40% of dogs, is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs. Hereditary and other congenital factors, which can affect dogs of all ages and breeds, are a few of the causes of osteoarthritis.
Other causes of chronic pain in dogs include:
- Intervertebral disk disease IVDD
- Dental Health Problems
Treatments for Chronic Pain in Dogs
Never administer any drugs intended for humans to your dog. Numerous drugs that work for humans also harm animals. If your dog is found to have a condition that causes chronic pain, the recommended course of treatment will depend on what is causing the pain in the first place.
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 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.
A change in diet, along with dietary supplements to combat inflammation, non-drug treatments to reduce inflammation and soothe joints, such as cold laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, or acupuncture, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs like Galliprant, Rimadyl, Previcox, or Metacam, as well as painkillers like Gabapentin or Tramadol, may be recommended by your veterinarian for chronic pain brought on by joint conditions like osteoarthritis.
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.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.