When our pets are in pain due to an illness or injury, we as pet parents want to do all that we can to make it better. It’s never fun to see our pets suffer, but sometimes, our efforts to help can do even more harm.
If your pet is dealing with acute or chronic pain, there are some major dos and don’ts you should be aware of. Here are some guidelines to ensure you’re helping, not hurting, your pained pet.
- DON’T ignore pet pain: Just like in humans, pet pain can cause significant distress in addition to the physical aches and pains. For this reason, pet pain should never be ignored. You wouldn’t want your pain to go unattended for days on end, and neither does your furry friend! If you notice that your pet is showing signs of pain, address it immediately to provide them both physical and mental relief.
- DON’T give your pet human medications: Your first instinct after you notice your pet is in pain might be to head to the medicine cabinet and offer your pet some aspirin or ibuprofen. After all, these medications are versatile and basically harmless, right? Wrong! You should never give your pet any pain medication designed for humans before speaking with your vet. The dosages are designed for our larger bodies, not our furry friends’, and the chemical makeup might interact differently in their bodies. In fact, many human pain medications can cause severe health problems in pets, including ulcers, liver or kidney failure and neurological issues. In some cases, a large enough dose can be deadly.
- DON’T administer medication prescribed to another pet: If one of your pets was prescribed pain medication and there are still some pills left, don’t assume that these are safe to give a different pet suffering from a different injury. Vets must consider many factors when prescribing medication, including the size of your pet, any medications or supplements they currently take and the severity of the issue. One medication might not be appropriate for all pets, so it’s crucial for you to get your pet their own prescription.
- DO visit your vet: Dogs and cats don’t have the ability to tell us exactly where something hurts or how severe the pain is. They also aren’t able to communicate when something is wrong beyond the pain. It’s not easy for us to diagnose pets at home on our own, either. To get your pet the help they really need, you should take your pet to the vet for a full examination. There might be an underlying problem that can be cured instead of merely treating the symptoms with medication.
- DO consider alternative methods: Pain medication may be necessary for pets with severe pain, but it’s not the only solution. Alternative treatments can be used instead of or in tandem with medication to give your pet relief. There are lots of alternative pet pain treatments, such as herbal supplements that allow your pet to relax, sleep more easily and heal faster. Additionally, things like acupuncture and massage therapy may provide targeted pain relief, particularly for chronic problems like arthritis.
- DO follow veterinary instructions: If your vet prescribes your pet pain medication, it’s imperative that you follow their instructions for administration exactly. If you have questions about the medication, ask them prior to giving it to your pet, so you are certain you are doing it correctly. Giving the incorrect dose or administering the medication too early could cause an overdose with severe complications. Or, it might not be effective, leaving your pet in pain. In some cases, you also need to wean your pet off the medication instead of stopping it abruptly. Failing to do this may cause health problems.
- DO keep an eye out for side effects: Pet pain medications have the potential to cause side effects that could complicate your furry friend’s health. Any time you give a new medication to your pet, you should monitor them for a few days afterward to make sure they aren’t experiencing negative side effects. Each medication will have its own list of potential effects, but some common ones include vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence and lethargy. Let your vet know as soon as you notice these symptoms, since your pet might need a new medication.
Dealing with pet pain might feel stressful, especially if your pet is visibly distressed. But by following your vet’s instructions and exploring both traditional and alternative pain relief options, your pet should begin to heal and feel better in no time.