Pain Management for Pets
Posted January 24, 2019
One of the most difficult parts of being a pet owner is knowing
how to best care for pets that are in pain. As pets age, it is
important to make sure they are living each day happy and
Animals with illnesses or injuries often try to hide their pain,
so pet owners should always watch for any changes in their pets’
behavior. If you suspect your pet is hurting, the first thing you
should do is to take it to a veterinarian, who can determine the
best plan for pain management.
There are many options for managing pain, both long-term and
short-term, that can help keep pets feeling good, despite health
problems. Dr. Daniel Eckman, a veterinarian at the Texas A&M
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has
advice for pet owners when working with a veterinarian to choose
the best pain management approach for their pet.
“The best strategy for pain management in pets is to identify
the source, type, and severity of pain present,” Eckman said. “This
will allow you to tailor an individual plan for the pet.”
Eckman said he tends to develop multimodal approaches, in which
he combines medications, physical modalities, and other forms of
therapy, including laser and shockwave therapy. Physical modalities
include treatments such as acupuncture, heat and cold therapy,
electrical stimulation, stretching, and massage.
According to Eckman, physical rehabilitation is beneficial for
the majority of pets in pain, especially those that are weak or
have restricted movement. He explained that physical rehabilitation
can help these pets become stronger and more active, which can help
to reduce pain.
Eckman said he does not often prescribe natural products for
pain relief because they could have negative interactions with
other medications that the pet is being given. It is important to
tell your veterinarian which natural products you are giving your
“We also do not know exact doses for some of the natural
products that are used, as safety and efficacy studies have not
been performed on many of them,” he added. “The one product we use
most frequently is fatty acid supplementation, as it helps to
reduce inflammatory mediators in the joints of arthritic pets.”
For pets dealing with long-term pain management, such as from
chronic diseases, Eckman says there are many options that may
“As the pain persists or worsens over time, more layers of
medications or types of treatments may be needed to continue to
address the pain,” he explained.
He said opiate medications are not typically recommended for
long-term therapy, as they can cause negative side effects.
However, they can be used for short periods of time if pain flares
up above normal levels.
Although it may be heartbreaking to see a pet in pain, it is
important to not give up hope. There are many options for reducing
or even eliminating pain, and a veterinarian can help you find the
best option for your pet’s unique needs.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for
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