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Pain Treatment

By Peter W. Hellyer, DVM, MS, DACVA, Associate Dean for the Professional Veterinary Medical Program, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University

Acute surgical, traumatic, and disease-related pain is generally treated with one or more analgesic, or pain-relieving, drugs. Selection of the most suitable drug or drug combination is based on the anticipated severity of pain, the pet’s overall health, and the specific drugs helpful for the species. For more extensive injuries or disease-related tissue damage, analgesics from more than one drug class are often prescribed.

Reducing your pet’s stress and providing all-around good care will maximize the benefit of the pain treatment regimen. Housing conditions, diet, and level of interaction with other animals and people should be tailored to the individual. For example, separating a pair of dogs that enjoy playing vigorously together might be stressful for the dogs under normal circumstances. But temporarily separating the dogs after one has had surgery (to allow the incision to start healing) is less stressful for the recovering dog if the human caregivers spend enough time interacting with it. Managing animals that are under stress and in pain requires a combination of good nursing care, nondrug methods (for example, bandaging, ice packs or heat, and physical therapy), and drug treatments.

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