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Chronic Pain in Dogs

Chronic pain in dogs can significantly reduce their quality of life, but it is often difficult to tell when your dog is suffering. Our veterinarians in Murfreesboro are here to help you recognize the signs of chronic pain and provide you with solutions.

What is chronic pain in dogs?

Chronic pain in dogs is a prolonged discomfort or soreness lasting for weeks, months, or even years. It can result from various underlying conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, spinal issues, or nerve damage. This type of pain significantly affects a dog's quality of life, leading to reduced mobility, changes in behavior, and decreased enjoyment of activities.

Managing chronic pain in dogs typically requires a multifaceted approach, incorporating medication, physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and sometimes surgical interventions. The treatment plan should be tailored to the specific needs of the individual dog and its underlying condition.-

Symptoms of Chronic Pain

If your pet is experiencing chronic pain, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Decrease in appetite
  • Lack of enthusiasm for play, walks or activities
  • Reluctance to climb stairs or jump
  • Difficulty getting up from sleeping position
  • Tail tucked in or lowered
  • Spending more time sleeping
  • Yelping or whining
  • Irritability
  • Limping
  • Overall sad demeanor

Chronic pain in dogs can develop gradually, making it hard to detect any signs. That's why it's important to take your pet for regular veterinary check-ups throughout their life.

These check-ups enable your vet to monitor your furry friend's health over time and identify subtle changes that might otherwise be overlooked.

The Causes of Chronic Pain in Dogs

Various factors can cause chronic pain in dogs. The most common cause is osteoarthritis, affecting around 40% of dogs. This condition can develop due to factors such as genetics, aging, obesity, joint abnormalities, or previous injuries.

Other causes of chronic pain in dogs include:

  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Cancer
  • Dental health problems

What are the types of tests to diagnose chronic pain in dogs?

If you suspect that your dog is experiencing chronic pain, take them to the vet for a thorough examination.

Your vet may use the following methods to diagnose your dog's condition:

  • Physiologic biomarkers:  The use of biomarkers can help diagnose, monitor, and manage this condition in dogs. These biomarkers are physiological indicators that can be assessed through laboratory tests such as blood tests, urine analysis, and imaging studies. By integrating biomarker analysis with clinical assessment and behavioral evaluation, veterinarians and pet owners can gain a better understanding of chronic pain in dogs, leading to improved outcomes and a better quality of life for the affected animals.
  • Measurements of gait:  This gait assessment is essential for diagnosing and monitoring chronic pain conditions, particularly those affecting the musculoskeletal system. By evaluating the way a dog walks, veterinarians can gain a comprehensive understanding of the gait abnormalities and functional impairments associated with chronic pain in dogs. This facilitates accurate diagnosis and targeted management strategies.
  • Multifactorial clinical measurement instruments: Clinical measurement instruments such as pain score systems, quality-of-life assessments, and physical examinations are highly valuable tools for veterinarians. They take into account various dimensions of pain including changes in behavior, physical signs, and functional impairment, which provide a comprehensive understanding of the pain experienced by dogs. These tools enable veterinarians to assess and monitor chronic pain in dogs more comprehensively.

Treatments for Chronic Pain in Dogs

Never give your dog medications formulated for humans. Many medications effective for us can be toxic for dogs. If your dog is diagnosed with a condition resulting in chronic pain, the recommended treatment will depend on the underlying cause.

Surgery is generally the best treatment for painful dental conditions, such as periodontal disease or the need for tooth extraction.

Chronic pain related to cancer can be treated in several ways, including medications such as Tramadol, NSAIDs such as Metacam, Previcox, Deramaxx, and Rimadyl,  or topical medications including lidocaine, benzocaine, cortisone, or dimethyl sulfoxide.

For chronic pain caused by joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis, your vet may prescribe a change in diet plus dietary supplements.

Non-drug therapies to help reduce inflammation and soothe joints include cold laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, or acupuncture. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as Galliprant, Rimadyl, Previcox, or Metacam, and painkillers, such as Gabapentin or Tramadol, can also help.

How can cold laser therapy help?

Veterinary cold laser therapy is a relatively new method of treatment for dog pain. It is commonly used to help manage pain, inflammation, and wound healing in pets.

The light emitted by these lasers stimulates the cells within the tissues, promoting faster cellular regeneration.

The wavelength of the laser used determines the tissue it can affect. Low-wavelength lasers are typically used to treat areas near and involving the skin, while higher-wavelength lasers focus on deep tissue repair.

Talk to your vet if you'd like to learn more about how veterinary cold laser therapy may benefit your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your dog is in chronic pain? Contact our Murfreesboro vets today to book an examination.

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