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Pain Relief for Dogs and Cats

Pain Relief

For the relieving of pain in your pets, it must be noted that while the application of any drugs or medicinal substances can be helpful, they can also be toxic, and cause further complications, worsen conditions, and even cause death. Hence, they should not be considered without first consulting with a veterinarian who will prescribe appropriate medications and doses. It is also recommended that animals being treated with them are monitored carefully to watch for side effects in case an allergic or toxic reaction to the medication occurs, and further treatment or emergency services are required.

cat and dog hugging pain reliefThe first step in managing pain in your dog, cat, or other pet is to recognize the symptoms which are attributed to pain, and be able to identify them in your animal’s condition and/or behavior. Pain can be the result of disease, surgical or medical treatment, medication being applied for other reasons, injury, degeneration of bone, muscle or other tissue, and many other possibilities.

Historically, it was believed that animals did not feel pain as humans do, or that pain was perceived differently than humans. This led to speculations that considered that perhaps pain, as an aftermath of surgery or injury, was even beneficial, suggesting that pain might restrict movement and limit or prevent further injury as the animal recuperated.

After much research and study, today it is well-known that humans and animals have very similar neural pathways and neurotransmitters. Because of this, it can be deduced that the way animals experience pain will be quite similar as well.

Cats, dogs, and other pets, have long since won the affection and devotion of their owners to work towards maintaining and sustaining higher quality of life for them. It is generally agreed that animals with pain that is managed are assisted in their healing and have better recovery. Hence, pain management has become a critical part of overall animal patient care, and fundamental in veterinary care.

Recognizing Symptoms of Pain:

In cats and dogs, pain is not always self-evident. What usually draws attention is changes in behavior of a pet. Yet, without them being able to tell you directly, people must resort to spotting conditions or behavior that is out of the ordinary, and this can be very elusive.

While a dog may show signs of pain by whimpering, howling, whining, or groaning, a cat may resort to growling or hissing, or even a more contrary display involving meowing or purring. It is important to realize that these vocalizing signals with multiple meanings may be indicative of pain.

Dogs and cats have many similar indicators of pain. They may seem either restless, or withdrawn and reluctant to move. They may tremble, shake, or lie more still than usual. Cats may lay with their feet under them, possibly arching their backs or tucking in their abdomen. Dogs may hunch, with front end down, and hindquarters raised; or it may lay on its side. Cats and dogs may both display actions of licking, biting, or scratching certain areas of their bodies. They may become protective of part(s) of the body, limp, or not put weight on a limb. They may resist being picked up, or seem less sociable.

Daily Habits:

In daily habits, both dogs and cats may experience decreased appetites. Also, changes in sleeping habits are common. Cats may urinate frequently, and dogs might have lapses in housetraining. Either may show signs of restlessness, or reluctance to move. They may have difficulty getting up from a laying position, or they may rise and lay down again, possible circling, repeatedly. Seeking more affection than usual is another common trait.


Facial traits of animals in pain may include grimaces and furrowed brows. They may appear glazed, wide-eyed, or sleepy. Enlarged pupils are an indicator, as well as flattened ears. Also, if they are panting while at rest, this should alert the owner. Another thing to watch for is a tendency not to groom, or groom less. They will appear unkempt, and a dog’s fur may lack its normal shine, or the hair may stand up in places.


Another common factor, especially in friendly animals, is a change to aggressiveness, seeming fearful or angry. This shows as behavior which is out of character, such as growling, hissing, or biting. Dogs and cats both tend to pin their ears back. However, while these characteristics are common, it is not unheard of for normally more aggressive animals to become quiet, and even docile. So, knowing your pet is essential to determining when such behaviors are normal, and when they are not. At which time care must be given, as a friendly animal can sometimes become dangerous.

What to do to achieve pain relief:

The obvious starting point for responding to potential pain issues in pets is to schedule an appointment for examination as soon as possible. Since pain can be the result of so many things, your veterinarian may perform tests that include taking blood, urine, and other samples for analysis. X-rays are often used to achieve a better view of potential problems. It is critical to understand the exact causes of pain before any treatment can be prescribed.

Irvine Compounding Pharmacy works closely with veterinarians to assist in delivering appropriate drugs for pain management. Pets, especially cats, can be very sensitive to medications, and professionals are educated to know when they are appropriate, and what dosage is recommended. Irvine Compounding Pharmacy endorses a pain relief medicine called Piroxicam, which is categorized as an “NSAID,” OR “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.” Often prescribed for short term treatment (5 to 7 days), any NSAID has risks and potentially adverse side effects. Before engaging in treatment with NSAIDs, or any medicine, it is important to be aware of the risks and side effects, and be ready to discontinue treatment and seek immediate help from your vet.

The obvious goal of seeking pain relief is to improve the quality of life for your pet by allowing a happier disposition, and often assisting healing. With proper diagnosis at the earliest possible time, vets can determine the best solutions, and prescribe a treatment plan that places your pet on the path to health.