The Use of Pain Medication

by Angelia Oliverei, LVT

Pain Management in Our Pets

Although rehabilitation provides non pharmaceutical options for pain management, this blog will cover the importance of adequately providing pain medication for our pets following surgery or with chronic pain. 

Signs of pain

Pain is often subjective and can be difficult to measure. Our dogs and cats typically hide their pain very well and symptoms of pain in your pet can include:

  • Subtle changes in your pet’s behavior
  • decrease in activity level
  • difficulty walking or rising from a down
  • limping or not using a particular limb

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, IVAPM, has developed helpful tools to determine if your pet is in pain and how to grade it (Dog Pain chart, Cat Pain chart).

Types of pain medication

Typically if your dog has undergone a surgical procedure, some type of post-operative pain management should be provided, usually in the form of medication. There are many types of drugs that are used in providing pain management. Most post-operative pain medications that are sent home include:

  • NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) – such as carprofen, meloxicam, etc.
  • Opioids – such as Buprenorphine
  • Adrenergic Agonists Drugs – such as Tramadol

The type of medications chosen by your veterinarian is based on type of procedure or disease process, pain control needed, and individual needs of your pet.

Pain medication and rehabilitation

Most of the patients that we see have undergone some type of orthopedic surgery or suffer from pain that requires pain medication either post operatively or for a recommended period of time. Often clients will stop pain medication either too early or because they think there dog does not need it anymore. More often times than not continuing the pain medication is usually recommended. In rehabilitation we are asking our patients to use their body in ways they may not be used to especially following a surgery.

Continuing with pain medication during rehabilitation can be beneficial in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities in reducing inflammation and decreasing pain. Working with your veterinarian and recognizing and observing your pets signs of pain will help to determine if your pets should continue with pain medication. Always consider that if you think you would be in pain then likely your pet is too.