Animal Pain Awareness Month Stresses Importance of Recognizing Signs of Pain

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In light of Animal Pain Awareness Month as declared by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM), the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) encourages pet owners to play an active role in recognizing the signs of pain in animals and seeking veterinary care in the event of pain.

Texas Veterinary Medical Association
Because dogs and cats cannot tell us where it hurts or why, it is important for us to recognize signs of pain in our pets and to know which treatment options are available.

In light of Animal Pain Awareness Month as declared by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM), the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) encourages pet owners to play an active role in recognizing the signs of pain in animals and seeking veterinary care in the event of pain. Pet owners who know the signs of pain expedite the process of helping their pets find relief through effective pain management plans.

“The Most Common Signs of Pain in Your Pet” is this year’s theme, which focuses on helping owners understand that humans and animals process and feel pain in similar ways. This supports the fact that a source of pain in humans is likely the same trigger for animals. Osteoarthritis is the most common source of chronic pain in cats and dogs. Common signs of pain due to this disease include decreased activity and/or appetite, limping or lameness and a poor coat from grooming, among other signs.

Other painful health conditions manifest with similar signs of pain, but they often differ based on the species. Dogs who experience pain may excessively pant, hold their tails in a downward position and/or put their front end down with their back end in the air. Cats, on the other hand, often disguise their pain. Subtle signs to watch out for include sleeping more than usual, hiding and/or avoiding social interactions. Another sign is jumping on lower surfaces or lounging on the floor instead of relaxing on high perches.

“Because dogs and cats cannot tell us where it hurts or why, it is important for us to recognize signs of pain in our pets and to know which treatment options are available,” said TVMA member Mary Newell Sanders, DVM, who practices at Marek Veterinary Clinic in Bellville, Texas. “Left untreated, pain becomes detrimental, leading to stress, self-mutilation, immune compromise and eventual deterioration.”

If you identify signs of pain in your canine or feline friend, schedule a same-day appointment with your veterinarian. Veterinarians will perform thorough examinations, which may call for X-rays and bloodwork. Results will help your veterinarian develop a treatment plan tailored to your pet’s needs. There are several pain management modalities, and many veterinarians prescribe multiple techniques at once. Treatment options include prescription medications that come in many forms, supplements, laser therapy, acupuncture and massage therapy, among other modalities.

About the Texas Veterinary Medical Association
Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit http://www.tvma.org.
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Dena Goldstein
Texas Veterinary Medical Association
since: 07/2009
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