Tag Archives: pain relief

Common signs of pain in dogs

How do I know my dog is in pain?

(It’s a question I get fairly frequently)….

Here’s a list of things to look out for:

  • Decreased social interaction
  • Anxious expression
  • Submissive behavior
  • Refusal to move
  • Whimpering
  • Howling
  • Growling
  • Guarding behavior
  • Aggression, biting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Self-mutilation
  • Changes in posture

If you think your dog is in pain, then a visit to your vet is the first priority.  Once we have a working diagnosis, then consider what complementary therapies can do to manage your dog’s quality of life – often with reduced or no drugs.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Is my dog in pain?

One of the questions I get asked fairly often by clients is ‘how do I know if my dog is in pain?’

The month of September is Animal Pain Awareness Month.  The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management has created this one-page poster to help pet owners.

The only thing I would add is that once you have a veterinary diagnosis of your pet’s condition, then it is useful to seek out complementary therapies like massage and laser that can help with pain management.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

IVAPM-Pet-Pain-Awareness-Month-Poster-2016

Source:  International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management

Teddy’s journey: pain and anxiety come to the fore

The past week has been a tough one for Teddy and for Jill.

When Teddy first came home from the hospital, he seemed to be adjusting quickly.  He’s always been an independent boy and so he has rejected any support such as a strap or harness when taken out for toileting.

However, this week, Teddy became noticeably withdrawn.  For much of the time, he was restless and would whimper frequently.  We were sure he was in pain.  Because he was so out of sorts, we also felt that he was suffering from anxiety.

When I saw Teddy on Monday, Jill was stressed and Teddy was clearly not himself.  We introduced a hot water bottle (or ‘hottie’ as they are known here) on his back which seemed to provide relief and comfort.  I also gave Jill a CD from the Through a Dog’s Ear range.  This music is designed specifically for dogs to help calm and treat anxiety.  These seemed to assist Teddy in the short term to relax and rest.

But Teddy needed better pain management…

Teddy and his 'hottie'

Teddy and his ‘hottie’

Jill took Teddy back to his vet several times this week to discuss pain relief.  She freely admits, “I didn’t feel that I was being listened to as the owner.  I knew Teddy better than anyone.  Persistence, in my case, finally paid off.”

We seemed to agree on Monday that he was taken off his pain medication too quickly – he was taking only Previcox at the time –  and his body had been left vulnerable.  A Fentanyl patch was re-introduced on Monday and replaced again on Thursday.  Jill also started Teddy on Tramadol on Thursday and Teddy received a ketamine injection, too.

Meanwhile, I could tell that Teddy’s back muscles were stiff; his top line did not seem normal, and he was clearly distressed at being handled along the withers and the back.  Thankfully, since Teddy was too uncomfortable for deep massage, I was able to use the low level laser along his spine and muscles to help with blood flow and pain relief.  I know I want to passively stretch Teddy’s spine but we agreed to wait until Teddy was more comfortable before attempting this.  I was able to do passive range of motion stretching on Teddy’s legs.

Armed with this information Jill took Teddy for acupuncture on Tuesday and an osteopathic adjustment on Friday.  Both his acupuncture vet and his osteopath agreed that Teddy was in pain and that support with traditional veterinary medicines were needed.  The osteopath used gentle traction on Teddy’s back since she found his spine has become compressed.

With his pain properly managed, we can do more to help Teddy’s muscles, tendons and ligaments to adjust to his new gait.  And then true rehabilitation and exercise can begin including a greater focus on core muscle strength.

During this stressful week, Jill took to the Internet for help with Teddy’s condition.  She found a wonderful site – Tripawds Blogs – for owners of amputee dogs.  Owners soon responded with news that helped to assure Jill she had made the right decision for Teddy and gave her information to help her discuss pain management with her vet.

Owners who have been through similar adjustments with their dogs said:

  • Amputees go through an initial ‘good’ period after coming home, only to suffer because they do too much, too soon
  • The muscles of the body are under incredible strain because the body’s mechanics have changed rapidly
  • In Teddy’s case, his amputation was not preceded by a period of pain or dysfunction in the front leg – so his body had no time to adjust (such as would be the case for an osteosarcoma patient, for example)
  • Pain management medication is critical; the switch from Fentanyl to Tramadol was recommended
  • Teddy’s size is a big advantage – he’s a lot smaller than, say, a Labrador with the same conditions
  • Every dog is different and it takes a little time to find the right balance of therapies

Jill says, “In hindsight, we really took things too quickly and allowed Teddy to move around the garden area with enthusiasm.  I wish I had thought of this sooner and we may have avoided him seizing up so badly.  The Tripawds site has been a fabulous resource for me  knowing that there are others who have been through this before us.

I do feel that vets should listen to owners when it comes to understanding their animal.  And if you are not happy with your vet, you need to find someone who you are more comfortable with.  The vet can’t have all the answers when they are not with the dog as often as the owner is.  This proves that vets are not the final word in recovery – and I’m grateful that complementary practitioners are part of Teddy’s healthcare team”

It’s a new week – and we are all hopeful that Teddy is back on track to recovery.  He’s booked for massage and acupuncture this week.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Pain management in dogs with bone cancer

A single injection eased severe, chronic pain caused by late-stage bone cancer in dogs, according to a study in the November issue of Anesthesiology. Dogs with bone cancer that received a neurotoxin injection had significantly more pain relief than those that got standard care without the injection.

“Dogs are part of the family and we do everything we can to relieve them of pain and discomfort when they are sick,” said Dorothy Cimino Brown, D.V.M., School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. “In addition to sharing emotional attachments with our dogs, humans share many of the same ailments our pets suffer when fighting cancer. By studying the positive pain relief this treatment afforded dogs, we are hopeful it may also be effective for humans.”

A radiograph of a dog's leg with a cancerous lesion. (Credit: Image courtesy of American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA))

A radiograph of a dog’s leg with a cancerous lesion. (Credit: Image courtesy of American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA))

The owners of 70 dogs enrolled their pets in this study. Half the dogs received an injection of a neurotoxin, called substance P-saporin (SP-sap), as well as standard care. The other half (i.e., the control group) received standard care without the neurotoxin injection. The average age of the dogs was between 8 and 9 years and their average weight was 90 pounds.  Multiple breeds participated in the study, including: Rottweilers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and mixed breeds.

The evolution of bone cancer pain in dogs parallels what occurs in humans, with the frequency and intensity of pain increasing over weeks and months. As the cancer advances, both canine and human patients experience life-altering pain, which greatly affects their daily activities and quality of life. The standard treatment for dogs with late-stage bone cancer can include opioids, steroids, and palliative radiation. All of these treatments can have negative side effects.

Within six weeks of beginning the study, 74 percent (26) of the dogs in the control group needed to be “unblinded” (i.e., their status in the study revealed) and their pain relief regimen adjusted compared to 24 percent of the dogs (eight) in the group that received the injection. This was a statistically significant difference.

Other study results included a 6 percent increase in pain severity scores for dogs in the control group, while the dogs in the SP-sap group had no change in pain severity score.  In addition, the dogs in the control group had an 8 percent increase in how pain interferes with their typical activities, while the SP-sap dogs had a 5 percent improvement in this pain impact score. Finally, one dog in the control group responded with improved lameness, while 6 dogs in the SP-sap group became less lame. While these secondary study results were not statistically significant because they were only assessed two weeks after injection, they are promising.

Source:  American Society of Anesthesiologists media release