In the past, some veterinarians thought pain helped dogs stay quiet so that they could heal faster. Nowadays, vets may administer pain relief to dogs until there is evidence that the dog is no longer in distress. There are two types of pain to consider. Acute pain has a sudden onset as a response to an injury and disappears when the injury heals. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is persistent. It is the primary responsibility of the owner to recognise when a dog is in pain and to take appropriate action.
Learn to recognise the symptoms of pain, as this is the only way a dog can communicate. Signs to look for include the dog being unusually listless, quiet or unresponsive; whining, howling or whimpering for no apparent reason; biting or snapping; licking a particular part of the body continuously; acting out of character; experiencing trouble eating or sleeping; and seeking more attention and affection than usual.
The best strategy for easing acute pain is to give pain relief before the painful event occurs. While this is possible when an animal is about to undergo surgery, it isn't much help when an animal experiences sudden injury. When this happens, it is often best to give more, rather than less, pain relief. Many owners tend to administer too low doses initially in the hope that the pain will subside.
Valerian tincture can be used to relieve the pain of pulled muscles or muscle spasm injuries. Other herbal pain relief remedies suitable for dogs include turmeric for joint pain; chamomile for eye irritation; aloe for bites or burns; alfalfa for arthritis; St. John's wort for muscle and joint damage; ginger for back pain; feverfew for migraines and arthritis; liquorice and yucca for arthritis; and cayenne for general pain relief.
A number of therapies exist that may help ease a dog's pain. Some claim that fitting a dog with a magnetic copper collar or band will increase its natural production of endorphins. Lavender aromatherapy can act as an anti-inflammatory and aid with sleep and general relaxation. Acupuncture can provide relief for both acute and chronic pain. Chronically sore limbs can be massaged and ice packs applied to acute injuries. Warm compresses can help with chronic pain such as arthritis.
The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), which include things like aspirin, are a common form of pain relief for dogs. NSAIDs can be used for both chronic and acute pain. Other NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen and the newer Cox-2 inhibitors. A pet that has stopped eating or significantly reduced its food intake should not be given NSAIDs because of the risk of ulcers.
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