Have you ever watched your grey muzzled pet as they lumber around the house and realized that they don’t walk as quickly as they used to? You remember the times when they were a puppy, with bouncing energy and a fondness for slippers and frantic excited laps around the living room. Then you compare that to the dog who loves to sleep and starts to lag after just a short walk around the block.
Aging is a normal part of life, but when your senior pet simply won’t take the stairs anymore or when they groan as they rise from an uncomfortable resting position, these are signs of discomfort and can indicate more serious issues. Pets can develop arthritis and other medical concerns that may be dismissed as “oh, they’re just getting older,” but at Lake Road Animal Hospital, we strive to help our patients of every age to be as comfortable and healthy as possible.
For your pet’s sake, never give any medications that were not prescribed for that individual pet until you consult with their veterinarian. Many human medications can cause lasting damage in dogs and especially cats and may be fatal. These medications can cause a host of concerns, including stomach upset, stomach bleeding, kidney failure, liver failure, and neurologic problems.
Always consult your veterinarian before giving your pet over-the-counter medications!
What can I do for my pet when they’re uncomfortable?
There are many pet-approved pain medications and therapies. Depending on the underlying cause, a veterinarian can also help to find the cause of the discomfort. Your pet’s pain may come from arthritis (caused by aging or injury), injured muscles or even a joint or bone injury that surgery can help to resolve. Whatever the cause, a full physical exam is the first step to a happier and healthier pet.
Medications prescribed by your veterinarian
● Veterinary NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications) can help to relieve pain from inflammation from arthritis, surgical pain, or injuries. Some types of veterinary NSAIDS include:
○ Carprofen (Rimadyl)
NSAID medications are safe for short term use in most pets. If your painful pet requires medications chronically, monitoring blood work helps to ensure that their body continues to tolerate the medication well, and if changes are discovered, the medication may be discontinued. Problematic changes can include anemia, liver, or kidney concerns.
Some pets, especially cats, are much more sensitive to NSAIDS or may need multiple types of medications to manage their pain .Other pain medications include:
● Opioid-like medications
Non-drug therapies for treating pain
Therapeutic laser helps to decrease pain and discomfort by reducing inflammation and helps to speed up recovery time after surgery or injury. Available as one time treatments for an acute condition or as a package for multiple treatments, laser therapy is a non-invasive therapy that is helpful for many different conditions.
Cold therapy helps pets after a sudden injury or during the first stage of recovery from a surgical procedure. Never place an ice pack directly on the skin and fur; always use a light barrier (like a towel) between your pet and the cold pack. Consult your veterinarian about the use of cold therapy for your painful pet.
Physical therapy helps to maintain and regain use of muscles and limbs after illness, injury, or surgery. This can be performed by your veterinarian, veterinary nurse, and you can learn to perform exercises at home to help your pet gain his or her strength back.
Joint supplements and fish oils help to support joint health and flexibility. Many pets who take prescription joint supplements are able to take less prescribed pain medication to stay comfortable! Some recommended joint supplements include Dasuquin, Movoflex, and Omega Benefits (omega 3 fish oils).
Why is a physical exam important?
We want to keep all of our pets comfortable. However, it is important to treat pain safely! A full physical exam will help to pinpoint the cause of discomfort and help the veterinarian in choosing the best treatment for your pet. If you ever have concerns about your pet’s health and comfort, please reach out to the team at Lake Road Animal Hospital. We are always happy to help you provide the best care for your furry family, at every stage of your pet’s life.
Written by Rebecca Burns, LVT