Pain Management for Senior Pets by Beverly Riley, RVT

As our pets age it is important that we as “pet parents” watch for signs our pets may be in pain. It is often thought that it is ok if our pets are stiff in the morning, or limp a little after they get up. However this is a sign that they are in pain, pets are very stoic and usually hide their pain, if they are showing symptoms of pain then they have surpassed their pain tolerance.
There are many things we can do to help our pets with their pain:

  • In the early stages they may be well managed with supplements, such as glucosamine & Chondroitin, or other neutraceuticals that can be recommended by your veterinarian
  • Changing diet to an appropriate arthritis diet can help our pet feel better, these diets have a high number of fatty acids
  • If the first approach is not enough to help then there are medications that can be prescribe to use in conjunction with their supplements. Depending on your pet’s health an appropriate pain medication will be chosen, Animal specific NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) are a good choice in a healthy senior pet, a blood panel may be required before starting medication. If NSAIDs are not appropriate there are other pain medications that may be chosen
  • Sometime even with supplements and NSAIDs they may still exhibit pain and need further pain management
  • Therapeutic laser is also an option for pain management; it can be used as a first step, or in conjunction with pain medication. The laser light is delivered through a non-invasive hand piece over the area being treated.
  • Massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic work may also be recommended to help in different areas with pain

It is important to watch for any signs our pets may give us to show us they are in pain. These signs may be as subtle as your senior cat not jumping up like they use to, or your senior dog not being able to go for as long walks as before. If in doubt they should be examined by a veterinarian, where their pain can be assessed and then a pain protocol can be made for your individual senior pet.