Pain Assessment and Control
Even when undergoing relatively routine procedures such as neutering the assessment of pain and its control are very important for your dog.
Pain control is routinely incorporated into any treatment where it is considered that pain may be present.
What is pain?
Pain is a physical phenomenon and can be classified by degree, mild, moderate, intense or substantial and also by duration, acute which is normally of short duration, e.g. following an operation, or chronic which is long lasting such as occurs in a dog with degenerative joint disease (arthritis).
How do I know when my dog is in pain?
Pain and its assessment can be very subjective, different dogs will respond in different ways. Among the most common signs are failure to respond in the normal pattern. Periodic or continuous whimpering or crying, continuous attention to a surgical site, panting, sitting in an abnormal position, shivering and sometimes running a temperature. In addition to these there are lots of other signs of pain which trained veterinary personnel will pick up.
Is there any difference between pain and discomfort?
Discomfort is also a physical phenomenon and may simply be thought of as a milder form of pain. Sometimes discomfort may not really involve any pain at all but merely inconvenience or irritation, for example chewing gum stuck between the pads. However the borderline between discomfort and pain is not clear cut. For example imagine that the pad has been bandaged and the inconvenience has caused the dog to lick, with the result that the bandage becomes tight. Pain may then start to occur.
Is distress part of pain?
Distress is a psychological phenomenon. It can be associated with both pain and discomfort. On the other hand it can be entirely distinct as occurs when a bitch is separated from her puppies.
It is not unusual to confuse distress and pain. For example a dog returns home after surgery but with strict instructions not to go upstairs. In consequence there is continuous or intermittent whining because he has been shut in the kitchen when he usually sleeps in the bedroom. This is probably due to distress at being separated rather than pain or discomfort which have probably been taken care of with the medication received post operatively.
My dog has chronic back pain and is on painkillers continuously. Are there any side effects?
Just as with people the chronic use of analgesics can result in certain side effects particularly effecting the gastro intestinal tract (vomiting and diarrhoea). However there are modern licensed products for use in the dog which are very effective and in the majority of cases are free from side effects at the recommended doses. Any unusual reactions should immediately be reported.
Pain control in dogs is very similar to that in ourselves, what suits one sometimes does not suit another.
If you are at all concerned regarding pain control please do not hesitate to contact us.