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Blue Cross Animal Hospital

Pain Management

Understanding Pain Management

No one, especially our staff, ever wants an animal to be in pain. A pet can be in pain both before and after surgery, as a result of trauma, or from arthritis or other illnesses. As in human medicine, we have a variety of options available to manage your pet’s discomfort.

At Blue Cross Animal Hospital we take a balanced approach to pain management using different categories of drugs and Therapeutic Laser as needed. We would be pleased to discuss the options available for your pet.

For procedures that we know will cause pain such as surgery or dental extractions we employ ‘Pre-emptive Pain Control’. It is well documented that if pain control measures are taken before the pain-causing event occurs, the nerve fibres don’t get so wound up and pain is lessened. For this reason part of our anesthetic protocol includes drugs that control pain, administered before any surgical pain is caused.

Long Term Pain Control

Several conditions such as arthritis can cause chronic pain. Many owners don’t know that their pet is in pain or don’t think they are. Often pain is not as obvious as vocalizing or pacing around. Sometimes pain manifests as a change in behaviour such as the cat that no longer goes up on the window ledge or chooses to sleep on the floor rather than a favourite chair or the dog who doesn’t come upstairs anymore or is lagging behind on walks.

If a pet is found to be in pain there are ways of treating it. Long term use of Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) has become safer with the newer ones such as meloxicam. Cats are more sensitive to these drugs and long term use is either off-label or not recommended. When used liver and kidney function should be monitored routinely and any sign of stomach upset should be reported to a veterinarian and the drug stopped immediately.

For arthritis there are various nutraceuticals such as glucosamine, and injectables such as Cartrophen that can be used to stimulate cartilage healing and the production of joint fluid which helps to keep the joints lubricated. Dosing and the brand used are important considerations.

New to our arsenal to combat chronic pain is our Therapeutic Laser. This non-invasive, non-painful treatment decreases pain, swelling and inflammation around affected joints. A series of six treatments in the first three weeks are followed by a single treatment every two-three weeks depending on how well the pet is doing. We have several certified staff members on staff delivering this exciting new treatment. Please see the separate section on this web-site devoted to our laser.

Surgical Pain Control

Surgery and dental extractions can cause pain. Some animals are very good at not showing pain though they are feeling it. As veterinarians we recognize pain and take it very seriously. It is not only unfair to an animal to be in pain, it also slows recovery from surgery.

For surgical pain we use a combination of Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) such as meloxicam as well as opoids such as hydromorphone, butorphenol and buprenorphine. For major surgeries we apply a slow release fentanyl patch that gives pain relief for up to three days. For surgeries involving the hind end we can use a morphine epidural to prevent pain for hours after recovery from anesthetic.

All our surgical cases and dental extractions now have our therapeutic laser applied after the wounds have been closed. This is effective in decreasing pain and speeding healing.