Dogs suffering 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 Poway 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 some conditions that we simply cannot avoid. Chronic pain is one such condition that not only causes pain in your dog but can also significantly reduce its quality of life.
How to Know if Your Dog Suffers From Chronic Pain
If you suspect that your canine companion is suffering from chronic pain, take note of any signs and symptoms you notice and bring them in for a thorough examination to rule out any other possible causes.
Your vet may utilize the following pain assessment methods 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.
The Causes of Chronic Pain in Dogs
The most common cause of chronic pain in dogs is osteoarthritis, which affects approximately 40% of dogs. Hereditary and other congenital factors are some of the contributing factors to osteoarthritis, which can affect dogs of all ages and breeds.
Other causes of chronic pain in dogs include:
- Intervertebral disk disease IVDD
- Dental Health Problems
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 in several 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 laser therapy.
For chronic pain caused by joint conditions such as osteoarthritis, your veterinarian may recommend a change in diet as well as dietary supplements to combat inflammation, non-drug therapies such as cold laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, or acupuncture, anti-inflammatory medications such as Galliprant, Rimadyl, Previcox, or Metacam, and painkillers such as Gabapentin or Tramadol.
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 tissue that can be affected will be determined by the wavelength of the laser used. The most commonly used lasers emit near-infrared light, but lower wavelength lasers are becoming more popular. Low-wavelength lasers are used to treat skin-related issues, whereas higher-wavelength lasers can 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.