Roger Salmon column: Helping your dog cope with chronic pain

Roger Salmon
Roger Salmon

Chronic pain is a diagnosis that many dog owners are concerned about as their pets get older and less mobile.

Fortunately vets now have very effective drugs for treating pain such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), although some owners are concerned about the risk of side effects.

The majority of owners consider the dog to be one of the family and for some others it will their best friend so it is not surprising that people are devastated if their pet is diagnosed with a potentially painful long-term illness.

Most owners rate the most painful condition to be a broken leg, with pain due to chronic arthritis in old age next most painful and then post-operative pain.

Owners feel that treatment of osteoarthritis should be started as soon as signs appear and then long-term, either consistently or as needed.

It is important to realise that the dog cannot tell you if it is in pain and therefore it is important to look for the tell tale signs.

Many dogs suffer unnecessarily because owners do not realise this.

NSAIDs are extremely effective drugs but some owners worry about side effects. Discuss your fears with the vet as most of them can be allayed as many side effectz can easily be controlled and disappear after ceasing treatment.

The signs to look out for in assessing pain are many and can be:-

Postural – Lying in an abnormal position or inability to rest.

Movement and gait –Lameness, inactivity, weak tail wag, less inclined to jump up, increased sleeping.

Vocalisation – Whining, whimper, bark more or less, growl, attempt to bite.

Wound – Biting chewing or licking certain areas.

Demeanour – Depressed look, little interaction, less grooming, less enthusiasm to go for a walk.

Urination/defecation – Without moving or in inappropriate places.