How do you know if your cat or dog are in pain and what can vets offer to ease the pain? We look at the symptoms, solutions and why CBD is now considered an option worth trying.
Chronic pain is a progressive, persistent pain that is not always noticeable at first.
Pain is complex experience with emotional and cognitive components that can have a substantial impact on your pet’s quality of life. It can be caused by pre-existing conditions and is commonly exacerbated by the subconscious habits of your pet.
Difference between acute pain and chronic pain in animals.
Acute pain is usually plainly visible to both vets and owners. Symptoms of acute pain can be anything from heightened vocalisation to an obvious shift in mobility, such as a limp. This kind of pain usually originates from a mild injury or a surgery.
Chronic pain is a whole different ball game. The pain’s lack of obvious symptoms allows for it to develop insidiously. Pets often tolerate a long period of chronic pain before you recognise the signs.
How to identify Chronic Pain in your animals
It is important to identify chronic pain in your pet quickly.
Prolonged non-diagnosis will cause the pain to entrench itself further and cause distress.
There are 3 elements to consider when trying to recognise and quantify chronic pain:
- The intensity and location of pain (i.e. where is the pain and how much of it is occurring).
- The emotional component of pain (i.e. what causes the suffering associated with chronic pain).
- The cognitive aspect of pain (i.e. changes in activity and behaviour such as chronic scratching and licking or hiding away from owners).
Studies in dogs with osteoarthritis have shown that, because of the intimate relationship they share, owners are the most qualified individuals to quantify pain in their animals (Hielm-Bjorkman et al, 2003). They are also, in most cases, the best candidate to evaluate the emotional impact of pain in their pet.
Identifying Behavioural Change in pets in pain
Behavioural changes can be subtle, but it is important to be conscious of these changes as – in the case of chronic pain – inattentiveness can decrease your pet’s quality of life.
In some cases, a vet may be required to assess pain. Frequently signs associated with ageing are misinterpreted signs of chronic pain.
Solutions vets have for Chronic Pain
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to chronic pain. Pain can be caused by dozens of other conditions. Nonetheless, a treatment sequence for chronic pain in pets can be recommended by your vet.
A sequence using conventional medications may be followed in the following approximate order:
- Anti-inflammatory medications: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or corticosteroid.
- Treatment of underlying disease or aggravating comorbidities.
- Neuromodulatory analgesic drugs, such as gabapentin, tramadol, and amitriptyline.
- Weight optimisation.
CBD Oil for animal pain
Although there is no cure for this progressive condition, CBD has been used as a supplementary treatment for chronic pain in pets.
You may like to seek alternative treatment options where conventional medications have either not worked, or are not desired. This is when CBD oil is worth considering for pain.
For example, the anti-inflammatory properties in CBD oil have been used to treat painful arthritic conditions in dogs.
A study at Cornell University looked at how CBD could help people with arthritis manage their pain, using a topical gel containing CBD that was applied for four days. They noticed a significant drop in inflammation and signs of pain, without additional side effects.
Using CBD oil for arthritis may also relieve animals of their pain, but more studies need to be done to confirm this.
The same study examined CBD use for general chronic pain. The researchers concluded that there is substantial evidence for CBD as an effective treatment for chronic pain in animals, and that CBD may also reduce inflammation.
The study additionally found that those taking CBD were unlikely to build up a tolerance to its effects, so would not need to continually increase doses.
CBD oil and Side Effects for Pets
Besides helping with pain caused by inflammation, there is evidence to suggest that CBD oil can be used to alleviate general aches and pains.
Unlike some traditional pain medicine for dogs, CBD has no life-threatening side effects when taken in the correct prescribed dose for your pet.
Importantly though, only legal CBD such as prescribed by CBD Vets Australia can be guaranteed to contain what it says it contains. Buying CBD online without prescription can carry risks for your pet.
If you are considering CBD Oil for your dog’s pain, email [email protected] or talk to your local vet and refer them to CBD Vets Australia for prescribing.
REFERENCE Brown, D. C., Boston, R. C., Coyne, J. C. et al (2008) Ability of the Canine Brief Inventory to detect response to treatment in dogs with osteoarthritis. J Am Vet Med Assoc 233 (8): 1,278- 1,283.