IS MY PET IN PAIN?
“Our Commitment To Your Pet Lies In The Quality Of Our Care”
It is not easy to diagnose pain in pets. We diagnose the cause of pain using a combination of clinical assessments, imaging technologies, laboratory analysis, etc. Recognizing pain is very challenging in some pets. A pet's response to pain varies with many factors, including:-
- age (eg, young pets generally have a lower tolerance to acute pain but are less sensitive to emotional stress or anxiety associated with an anticipated painful procedure),
- health status (eg, ill pets are less capable of tolerating pain than are healthy individuals; severely debilitated pets still experience pain but may not be able to respond),
- species variation (eg, cows tend to be stoic whereas cats are more excitable), and
- breed differences (eg, working breeds of dogs vs. toy breeds).
We take the view that if a procedure is painful to us, then it must also be painful to pets. We have an ethical obligation to provide humane care to our patients. The beneficial effects of pain control far outweighs the few adverse effects that may arise from using analgesic drugs.
The following are some examples of behaviour changes that may indicate your pet is in pain:-
- Changes in personality or attitude. A normally quiet and docile pet becomes suddenly aggressive, or an aggressive pet becomes quiet. A pet may attempt to bite, especially when a painful area is palpated.
- Abnormal vocalization, especially when a painful area is palpated or the pet is forced to move.
- Licking, biting, scratching or shaking of a painful area. If excessive, these behaviors can lead to self-mutilation.
- Changes in the appearance of the haircoat such as ruffled fur, a greasy appearance indicative of a lack of grooming, and piloerection may be indicative of pain.
- Changes in posture or ambulation. Limping or carrying of a painful appendage; tensing of abdominal and back muscles to produce a tucked up appearance is especially noticeable in dogs, cats, and rodents.
- Changes in activity level. A pet may become restless and pace or repetitively lie down, get up, and lie down again. In contrast, an pet may be recumbent and lethargic or reluctant to move with guarding of the painful area.
- Changes in appetite, such as a decrease in food and water consumption leading to weight loss and dehydration.
- Changes in facial expression. Eyes become dull and pupils may be dilated. Pinning of the ears, grimacing, and a sleepy or photophobic appearance may be evident.
- Excessive sweating or salivation. Horses frequently sweat in response to pain; however, cattle do not. Stressed rodents often salivate excessively.
- Oculonasal discharge. Rats when stressed often shed porphyrin pigment in their tears and appear to be bleeding from their eyes and nose.
- Teeth grinding is frequently heard in rabbits experiencing pain.
- Changes in bowel movements or urination, such as diarrhea with soiling of the perineum, dysuria, and tenesmus.
To achieve effective pain control we may employ a variety of methods such as:-
- Prior to any surgical procedure we adopt preemptive analgesia (preventing pain) as it allows for better control of pain during the postoperative period.
- At times we use continuous infusions of analgesics (pain medications). These are extremely effective tools of pain management.
- We also local or regional "nerve blocks" when we do certain procedures such as dental extractions, orthopaedic surgeries, nail extractions and the likes.
- In some cases we use a combination of all the above to achieve effective pain control.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are additionally used for mild pain management.
The diagnosis of pain is seldom made on the basis of a single observation. Selection of the most appropriate analgesic drug or technique requires professional judgement.
To give you an idea pain can arise from any of the following regions and presents quite differently, such as from:-
- Appendicular skeleton
- Long bone
- Exertional rhabdomyolysis
- Muscle cramping
- Myositis ossificans
- Status epilepticus
- Aortic thromboembolism
- (saddle thrombus - cat)
- Sensory polyneuropathy
- Craniomandibular osteopathy
- Fractures-maxilla or mandible
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Acute pancreatitis
- Renal or ureteral calculi
- Thoracic cavity
- Abdominal cavity
- Back trauma
- Disk disease
- Disk spondylitis
- Meningeal disease
- Anorectal trauma
- Anal/rectal cancer
- Anal sac abscess/impaction
- Perianal fistulas
- Rectal strictures
As you can appreciate the problems are many and will need to be identified. It is therefore recommended that your pet is seen by us at the earliest, to prevent the problem progressing and causing other complications. Early recognition and treatment means that your pet will recover sooner, and will therefore be far more comfortable. It is not only significantly more difficult to treat a pet in an advanced stage of the disease, as well as far more expensive, but one also has to take into account the significant pain and stress your pet is under by not being treated at the earliest.
We sincerely recommend that you please call us on 1300-838-738 (1300-VET-PET) to schedule an appointment at the earliest. We do not believe in berating our clients for presenting the pets late, as we believe that this is counter productive. It is not our intention to cause you any embarrassment, offence or anxiety. Our approach is now that you have presented your pet to us, how do we go forward from here, not only keeping your pet’s welfare at heart, but also working with your wishes and limiting factors. We do approach all cases presented to us with a level of sensitivity. As pet health care professionals we will present our assessment and treatment in a professional manner and factually as possible.
You may not be aware that in older pets multiple problems often arise as aging affects all body systems. As pets age they become increasingly vulnerable to diseases. The three leading causes of non accidental death in pets are cancer, kidney disease and heart disease. Older animals seldom suffer from a single disease. One problem may markedly influence the course of another. Ageing is characterised by progressive and irreversible change. Pets are likely to start having diseases associated with ageing between 7 and 13 years. Smaller dogs tend to live longer than large dogs. The quality and length of life of older pets can be improved through regular health checks (every 6 months). A thorough clinical examination will help define some of these problems.
Because we do care for the welfare and interest of your pet, we do go out of way to ensure that your pet can access medical or surgical attention in time of its need. It would also interest you to know that:-
- We do pride ourselves in the quality of our services.
- We do provide a 24 hour on call service.
- We also offer payment plans through a third party, provided you meet the criteria as set out by the financing institute.
- If you cannot bring your pet to us, we will come to you as we do have a fully equipped pet ambulance.
- We also do house calls.
- Your pet will receive a very high level of care given the level of diagnostic and monitoring equipment that we have on hand.
- We do welcome you to take a personal tour of our facility.
- We also provide pet grooming services
- We also provide puppy classes. Puppies are trained not only indoors, but also outdoors, being exposed to outdoor noises and traffic in a controlled environment. The puppy training classes are run by Ms Julie Pocknee.
- We do care for our wildlife, and work very closely with wildlife carers providing veterinary care where needed.
- We take an active part in community services and proudly support Service Dog Training, by way of providing veterinary services to working dogs of individuals with disabilities. Please see www.servicedogtraining.com.au
If you have not used our services before, we do suggest that you try our services and see the differences for yourself. From our analysis we find that over 30% of all new patients are referred to us by existing clients, and a further 25% of all new patients are brought in by existing clients. Our clients travel from as far as Camberwell, Clayton, Fitzroy, Ringwood, Chelsea, St Kilda, Port Melbourne, Pakenham, to name but a few. From the level of service we provide, you would come to understand that we are not your average Veterinary Services provider. We do recommend that you bookmark our web address www.petcarevet.com.au
Our staff are very friendly and courteous. We are very easily accessible. We are located at 234 Power Road, Endeavour Hills, at the intersection of Power Road and Heatherton Road, Endeavour Hills, just off the Monash Freeway. Please note that parking is at the rear.