Pain is not a lot of fun for anyone, especially the animals. But they are adapted to live with pain, not show that they have pain, go about their day as if nothing is wrong. So here is the problem. The people who take care of pets don’t realize they are in pain in the first place so they don’t tell their veterinarians anything is wrong and as often as not we don’t necessarily appreciate that there is something ailing our patients either.
There are some unfortunate “rules” in veterinary medicine that are still passed on, and in fact I heard this one not too many years ago from one of my favored specialists I work with: “pain is a good thing, it makes the animal stay still until they heal.” Which I think is a terrible terrible way to look at this issue. Our pets should NOT be allowed to be in pain, pain is not a beneficial thing and it is definitely stressful, and we have many ways to alleviate pain and mitigate the factors that can worsen pain.
Preventing pain in the first place, using *carefully* multimodal analgesia techniques and having a team approach where the client and doctor understand the goals of therapy is the way to go. Veterinarians are afraid to treat pain because of the medicine they use MIGHT have side effects. In the face of a very real condition! The beauty of using many (multimodal) approaches to manage the pain is that you can use less of any one given drug – they work together/synergistically to be better than they would alone and treat the cause of pain by as many ways as possible from where it comes from in the first place.
As an example: ice can be used for local anesthesia and to decrease inflammation, a NSAID (aspirin class) drug can be used as an anti-inflammatory, a narcotic can effect the way the brain perceives pain, fish oil as a natural antioxidant can be used, physical therapy helps regain function of injured body parts … the list goes on. We should ASSUME pain is going to be there for certain procedures (surgery) and processes (arthritis) not necessarily wait for the pet to whimper or limp. And treat the condition aggressively – don’t our pet friends deserve at least that much?
Ask (yourself and your veterinarian) if your pet might be in pain and DEMAND treatment for that condition