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Pain management in dogs is an area where vast differences exist among veterinarians. The fact is that you as the owner play a major role in this new effort to ease canine discomfort and pain...

Back pain is common in mature dogs and anyone who has witnessed an older dog struggle to arise or even refuse to stand after lying down realizes the discomfort hip diseases cause these dogs to endure. Whether from injury, joint problems, disease, or aging, your dog may have to deal with acute or chronic pain. Pain management in dogs is an area where vast differences exist among veterinarians. Depending on when and where the veterinarian was trained may explain why some use effective techniques whereas others provide minimal to no pain control. Fortunately, the issue of pain management in pets is an issue of high priority with the veterinary profession. There are now established guidelines for pain control and more research is being conducted. But the fact is that you play a major role in this new effort to ease canine discomfort and pain.
Pain is very subjective and difficult to measure in dogs. Veterinarians frequently will tell of cases where a dog will hobble in to the hospital, happily wagging its tail as it holds up a limp and fractured limb. Yet, another dog with the same type of fracture might be frantically yipping and crying in extreme panic and pain. One patient obviously needs medication but how do we judge the pain in the stoic patient? Here is where you, the pet owner, play an important role.

Most dogs that are experiencing pain will change their behavior patterns. You will notice that the dog is reluctant to climb stairs. Your pet will become more withdrawn or inactive. The dog will react negatively to being held or picked up. The dog may be unwilling to turn his head or seems to be guarding itself from movement or looses interest in interacting with its environment. These subtle changes may be the only way your dog will communicate a need for pain management assistance.

The best pain management strategy comes from a partnership between the dog’s owner and the attending veterinarian. The veterinarian must tune in to what you tell them about the dog’s behavior and activity. This will greatly aid in the correct diagnosis into the process causing the pain. Then a course of treatment and pain management can be determined.

The veterinarian has several classes of prescription drugs available to provide pain relief. They will choose the correct type of medication based on the severity of pain associated with the cause. Chronic pain often requires a combination of medications to provide relief and still maintain quality of life.

There is mounting evidence that body manipulation and massage can noticeably decrease discomfort and improve function in many dogs. This is especially true in diseases of the spinal cord affecting the rear legs and diseases of the hips. As the medication reduces the levels of pain, you can help the dog regain confidence by providing weight support and by stabilizing the hip joint. The Walkabout Harness is designed to support a portion of the dog’s hind legs while allowing them to walk with you. It is a valuable tool. The  Walkabout Harness helps improvement of circulation and the strengthening of muscles. Low-level electrical current to nerves and muscle-motor fibers via electrodes placed on the skin (TENS) is effective in the muscle spasms found in intervertebral disc disease. The Walkabout Harness is also helpful in cases where spinal cord disease has cause loss of function to the rear legs. Homemade devises are rarely as effective and may actually cause harm.

Any dog will be better able to resist degenerative diseases and repair damaged tissues if it is fed a high quality, meat-based diet. Remember, diet plays an important role during a pain cycle. While being your pet’s advocate for proper pain management, you must also provide a high protein diet.

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