Historically, it was thought that animals did not feel pain, or that they perceived pain differently than humans. As a corollary to this concept, it was suggested that pain following surgery or injury was beneficial to animals because it limited movement and thus prevented further injury.
Today there is a better understanding of how pain develops and is perpetuated. It is now well established that animals and humans have similar neural pathways for the development, conduction, and modulation of pain.
Because cats and dogs have neural pathways and neurotransmitters that are similar, if not identical, to those of humans, it is highly likely animals experience pain similarly.
Veterinary practitioners also have more insight into how most drugs work to modulate pain and how and why a combination of therapies can benefit patients. Untreated pain decreases quality of life in all patients, and prolongs recovery from surgery, injury, or illness. Today’s analgesic strategies allow people,and now animals, to live more comfortable lives.
Preventing and managing pain has become a fundamental part of quality and compassionate patient care at New Hope Animal Hospital. As advocates for their patients, our veterinary team has the responsibility to recognize, assess, prevent, and treat pain.
AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs & Cats
Signs of Pain
|Loss of normal behavior||Decrease in ability to move or activity level, lack of energy or enthusiasm, decreased appetite, decreased grooming (cats).|
|Expression of abnormal behaviors||Inappropriate elimination, vocalization, or aggression. Decreased interaction with other pets or family members. Altered facial expression, altered posture, restlessness, or hiding (especially in cats).|
|Reaction to touch||Increased body tension or flinching in response to gentle touching of the injured area or touching of regions likely to be painful, e.g., neck, back, hips, elbows (cats).|
|Physiologic parameters||Elevations in heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, blood pressure. Pupils are wide open.|