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Pain Management for Small Animals

As veterinary medicine continues to advance, multiple therapies have become available for management of pain in our pets, both long and short term. Nutritional supplements, oral medications, and adjuctive therapies such as laser and acupuncture can be utilized and combined into a holistic treatment plan that works best for each pet’s individual needs.

Nutritional supplements such as Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, and Avocado/Soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) have become increasingly common for small animal use, as well as for their human counterparts. These medications work to support the integrity and lubrication of the joint fluid and cartilage, which leads to an increase in joint comfort and improved long-term joint health. Supplements are most effective when used daily, and are safe for long-term use. Prescription pet foods such as Royal Canin’s Mobility Support have been developed to conveniently incorporate joint protection into a pet’s diet. In the same category of joint support is Adequan® (polysulfated glycosaminoglycans), an injectable joint support that can be used on a periodic basis to provide protection of joint cartilage and increase joint comfort.

For pets who would benefit from a reduction of inflammation in addition to pain relief, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as carprofen, firocoxib, and deracoxib are often recommended for short and long term use. These medications work at the cellular level to dampen the body’s inflammatory response and provide relief from conditions such as arthritis, soft tissue injuries, and pain and swelling after surgery. While NSAIDs are an excellent choice for many pets, side effects can be possible in some animals, resulting in the need for regular checkups in cases of long-term use.

Laser therapy is a relatively new method for relief of chronic and acute pain in pets.  Issues such as arthritis and soft tissue injuries are treated with the application of a low level “cold” laser which works at the microscopic level to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and stimulate healing.

Last but not least, we need to remember our pet’s overall health.  Maintaining pets at a healthy weight, providing proper nutrition, and regular exercise are the best treatment and prevention for what ails us!

Dr. Megan Munis
Prescott Animal Hospital