Chronic pain can seriously reduce a dog's quality of life, but detecting its signs can be challenging for even the most attentive pet owners. In this article, our veterinarians at Weldon Spring explore chronic pain in dogs, its indications, and treatments to enhance your dog's comfort.
What is Chronic Pain in Dogs?
We aim to treat our canine companions like family members, but certain conditions, such as chronic pain, may be unavoidable. Chronic pain not only causes discomfort for your dog, but can also significantly diminish their quality of life.
How to Know if Your Dog Suffers From Chronic Pain
If you suspect your dog has chronic pain, monitor any signs or symptoms and schedule a thorough examination to eliminate other potential causes.
Your veterinarian may employ the following pain assessment techniques 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
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:
- 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 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.
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.
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 utilize specific wavelength light waves to modify the physiology of affected tissues. The emitted light stimulates cells and accelerates cellular regeneration during treatment.
The laser's wavelength determines the targeted tissue. Near-infrared light is emitted by most lasers, with low-wavelength lasers becoming more prevalent. Low-wavelength lasers treat skin and nearby regions, while high-wavelength lasers address 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.