Hannah Capon MA Vet MB MRCVS explores how you can help your pet if they are suffering with pain.
This is a daily debate I have with owners, and one I feel compelled to write about.
Pain is defined as an unpleasant feeling that is conveyed to the brain. The discomfort felt by the individual signals actual or potential injury to the body.
However perception of pain will depend on many other variables such as location of pain, cause of the pain, the duration of the pain, and the individuals own perception of pain. We have all heard the phrase “he has a high pain threshold”.
Logically you would think the longer pain is suffered the more intolerable it would become, but this is often not true. Our bodies learn to live with it, habituate to it, and we frequently take medication or alternative therapies to try and reduce it. It is called chronic pain.
A recent article in the news suggests that at least 8 million people suffer chronic pain in the UK, seeking a variety of therapies and medication to reduce it.
Just imagine this; what if we did not know about pain relieving medication, the existence of doctors or the benefits of complimentary therapies. What would we do? We would learn to live with it. We would use our bodies differently to try and accommodate it or reduce it. We see this in our own older generation.
This is what happens in our pets. Yes, they may cry out or obviously limp when the pain is too much to bear, but often they try and live with it giving subtle signs of inability or discomfort, such as a change in the way they walk.
Stiffness on getting up. Inability or hesitation in climbing the steps or getting into the car. Lagging behind or becoming distracted on their normal walk.
Seeming unenthusiastic to play with you or greet you. Or it maybe as subtle as a slightly reduced appetite.
Yes, it is a consequence of ageing. We will all suffer chronic pain at certain points in our lifetimes, and this becomes more likely as we get older. But considering there are readily available means to reduce pain, which we freely take for ourselves, is it right to deny these to our beloved pets.
So, please when you take your dog for their next walk, or you watch your cat mooch around the house, look for their subtle cues telling us they are uncomfortable, and if you are unsure then have a chat with your vet.
South Coast Galen Myotherapy improves musculoskeletal management of cats and