Pain Managment in your Pet

    Veterinarians and scientists agree that animals experience pain in the same way as people do.   Our pets act in a very stoic manner when it comes to pain due to their evolutionary origins. In the wild, an animal that is injured is vulnerable to attack.  In order to survive they must suppress many of the more obvious signals of pain and injury, making it very difficult for humans to recognize when their companions are hurting!

       Unidentified pain can adversely affect your pet’s quality of life. Pain is a stressor, and in response to stress the body begins to release a set of stress-related hormones that affect virtually every system in the body. Pain induced stress eventually leads to decreased appetite, muscle fatigue, tissue breakdown and reduced ability to heal. In elderly companions some subtle signs of pain are commonly mistaken as signs of old age. Being familiar with these subtle sign of pain in our companions can relieve their silent suffering and extend their lives. No animal should have to live with pain!

           Here is a list of signs to look for in you companion that may indicate pain:

 

Posture/Appearance 

* Hunched back 

* Guarding (protecting) the painful area 

* “Praying” position (front legs and head on floor, hindquarters in the air) 

* Sitting or lying abnormally 

* Attempting to rest in an abnormal position 

* Head hanging down 

*Facial appearance, dull eyes, dilated pupils, ears back, grimace.  Rodents make red tears/nasal secretions 

 

Movement 

 * Stiff, tensed muscles 

* Bearing no or partial weight on affected limb or limping

* Thrashing or restless 

* Trembling or shaking

* Weak tail wag or low carriage of tail (in dogs)

* Limited or no movement when awake 

* Slow to rise  

 

Vocalization  (THE LEAST CONSISTENT SIGN)

* Screaming, whining, or crying

* Barking, hissing, or growling 

* Lack of vocalization (no greeting bark or purring)  

 

Behavior 

* Agitated 

* Poor/ no grooming, greasy fur, rough haircoat  in rodents  

* Decreased or absent appetite  

* Dull, sleeping excessively, or noticeably less active  

* Inappropriate urination or defecation, or not moving away from it 

* Acts out of character (Gentle dogs may bite or become aggressive; aggressive or playful cats may become   docile or quiet)  

* Licking wound or surgical site, self-mutilation 

* Sitting in dark places or hiding, isolation from group

* Retreating to quiet areas of house for long periods of time  

* Hyperventilation (rapid shallow breathing, especially in cats), increased panting in dogs 

* Vigorous attempts for escape, often with marked aggression

*Increased blood pressure, heart rate, temperature

 

      Pain management treatment plans can consist of glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs, opioids, sedatives, laser therapy treatments, ice and warm packs, nutritional supplements, and physical therapy. It is important that you become familiar with the subtle signs of pain in your beloved companions and work with your veterinarian to provide them with the best pain management treatment.

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Living with Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyriodism is a clinical condition characterized by the overproduction of thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the neck and regulates metabolism, body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and bowel function. Hyperthyroidism is normally caused by a benign thyroid tumor. Less than 2% are malignant. This is a fairly common disease of middle-aged cats. Hyperthyroidism can have serious, sometimes fatal affects if left untreated.

Clinical signs vary depending on the severity and how long the cat has been ill. The clinical signs are secondary to the increased metabolic rate and consist of:

  •     Weight loss despite good appetite
  •     Excessive appetite
  •     Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  •     Decreased grooming
  •     Irritability/hyperactivity and increased vocalization
  •     Excessive drinking and urination
  •     Panting, weakness, lethargy
  •     Heat avoidance

Associate conditions and disorders

The increase in the thyroid hormones leads to an increase in metabolic rate. The increased metabolic rate leads to increased pumping by the heart leading to hypertension. The heart must also enlarge and thicken to compensate for the increased metabolic demands leading to an abnormal gallop murmur and possibly blood clots. Hyperthyroidism and associated hypertension can also mask an underlying kidney disease. For this reason patient rechecks are very important after a treatment regiment is started

Treatments Options:

Medical treatment: Methimazole is an anti-thyroid medication that does not destroy the abnormal thyroid tissue but suppresses the production of thyroid hormone. Therefore the drug must be given for the rest of the cat’s life. Potential side effects include anorexia/vomiting, lethargy, and pruritus of the head and neck.

Thyroidectomy: Is the surgical removal of abnormal thyroid tissue. Medical treatment is recommended for several weeks before to unmask any underlying kidney disease, and improve metabolic and cardiac status. Postoperative complications include loss of parathyroid, Horner’s syndrome, and laryngeal paralysis.

Radioactive Iodine Therapy: An intravenous injection that concentrates in the thyroid rendering all abnormal tissue nonfunctional. After hospitalization no other treatment is required.

Science Diet Y/d: Limits dietary iodine intake reducing thyroid hormone production. The food is available in dry and wet. Must be the only diet offered. Y/D diet can be safely feed to non-hyperthyroid cats in a multi-cat home.

 

Recommended monitoring:

Exam, CBC, Chem 6, TT4, urinalysis at 2 weeks, then every 6 months.

Christmas Dog Cookies

It’s not Christmas without the annual making of the dog cookies at my house!! They are relatively easy to make, and relatively healthful, for a cookie! Check with your wonderful veterinarian before giving to your pet if they have allergies or medical conditions. The ingredients are:
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup powdered dry milk
1 egg
6 tablespoons of Heal-X Sunshine Factor (red palm oil) or butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (unless your pet has a heart problem)
1 cup of pureed green beans, carrots, or canned pumpkin.
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Add veggies. Mix until a stiff dough. Refrigerate 2 hr. under wax paper. Roll out thinly, and use cookie cutters. Decorate with colored sugar in depressions made with a pencil end. Bake until light brown at 325 degrees, about 30 min, and store in paper bags-do not seal or they will soften and mold! They keep for weeks! Enjoy.