How To Decrease Pain In Your Pet
We've all experienced pain. While most pets reflect very little pain in their soft looks, it's often the gradual reluctance to preform common tasks owners notice like hesitating to go up and down stairs, lagging behind or tiring easily during walks, preferring to lie down rather than sit or stand, stiffness, especially after resting, whimpering, growling or snapping when touched. Nearly every owner will tell me that they do not want their pet suffer needless pain. In todays' article I will try to explain things we all can do to help control pain in addition to the routinely prescribed medications. Let me say before you reach into your medicine cabinet, please call us at A Pet's Place (727) 461-4393, as they can be deadly to your pet.
Extra weight places added pressure on our joints which makes arthritis worse and leads to an increase in pain. Additionally fat cells release chemicals which promote inflammation and thus increase pain. I recommend that owners use Prescription Metabolic Mobility and feed the amount recommended for the desired weight loss. I have personally used this diet on both my own dog and cat and experienced fantastic results. Some people prefer to get a lower calorie food, feed less and offer small amounts of food multiple times throughout the day. This keeps the metabolism going to use the stored reserves, helps satisfy the hunger and helps keep activity levels up.
Regular low impact activity like swimming and leash walking helps reduce pain from your pet's joints. In several studies exercise was shown to significantly and rapidly decreased pain and medication use. In another study of swimming patients it was shown that high-intensity extended exercise endogenously controls pain by activation of opioidergic and serotonergic pathways. Furthermore, these results support the use of exercise as a nonpharmacological approach for the management of pain. Here I stress REGULAR (at least every other day.)
Omega 3 fatty acids - Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids are both incorporated into cell membranes throughout the body. When the cell membranes are damaged, fatty acids are released. Released Omega 6 fatty acids are 10-100 times more likely to promote inflammation than are Omega 3 fatty acids. Inflammation is beneficial if there is an infection your pet needs to fight. Most pets, however, have health problems caused by too much inflammation (flea allergies, arthritis, auto-immune disease), so most pets benefit from supplements with higher concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Glucosamine - Glucosamine helps keep the cartilage in joints healthy by providing the building blocks to form new cartilage. But natural glucosamine levels drop as we age. Although glucosamine sulfate supplements are often manufactured from the outer shells of shellfish, there aren't any natural food sources of glucosamine. Glucosamine is proving to be one of the safest and best treatments for the crippling effects of osteoarthritis that affects millions of aging pets throughout the United States.
Chondroitin - Chondroitin also is one of the products necessary for the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans. It probably plays a more important role by blocking and neutralizing destructive enzymes that break down cartilage in the joint. There is always a low level of destructive enzymes found in the joint, but when injury or abnormal wear occurs, the destructive enzymes and agents increase accelerating cartilage destruction. When chondroitin is added to the diet it helps to reduce the level of these destructive enzymes.
MSM - Methylsulfonylmethane is an organic sulfur containing compound. MSM is a natural analgesic and blocks the transfer of pain impulses through the nerve fibers. MSM also blocks the inflammation process by enhancing the activity of cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone produced by the body. MSM is considered a potentiator of most vitamins and other nutrients, such as vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, all B- vitamins, vitamin A, D and E, amino acids, selenium, calcium, & magnesium. MSM improves the cellular uptake of these nutrients, and prolongs their lives. MSM is a strong antioxidant, capable of binding and inactivating harmful free radicals. Overproduction of free radicals is caused by physical and mental stress, air pollution, heavy metals and organic contaminants in drinking water and food and radiation. MSM dissolves in many organic and inorganic compounds and reacts with toxins, affects inactivation and speeds excretion. Furthermore, MSM enhances the permeability of cell membranes, making it easier for nutrients to be taken up by the cells and for waste products to be eliminated. All this to say it not only eliminated the pain but it helps get the glucosamine and chondroitin into the joint and the toxins out.
Boswellia - Boswellia, or frankincense, harkens back to ancient India and Egypt. Frankincense was one of the four components in the medicinal "Balsam of Jerusalem" from the Franciscan Monastery and, as noted in the Papyrus Ebers, circa 1500 BCE, had applications in Egypt for mummification, cremation and the treatment of skin wounds. Long recognized for its anti-inflammatory benefits, this oleogum resin also has anti-cancer and immunomodulatory properties.
Turmeric - The bio-active compound (active ingredient or healing properties) of turmeric is "curcumin" (not to be confused with a different spice called cumin). Curcumin is responsible for its bright orange color as well as a host of health benefits. This prime ingredient acts as a spice, but also as a pain reliever. For this reason, it's a great food additive for pets that suffer from ailments and illnesses which cause pain.
I recommend a balanced diet which reduces the amount of grains, starchy carbohydrates and fat in the diet and increases the amount of protein. Most pet owners consider the ingredient list to be the most important factor in choosing a pet food. However, the ingredient list gives no information on the quality of the ingredients and can be very misleading on the overall quality of the food.
Hot vs. Cold
Heat is recommended with any chronic pain, while Ice or cold is best for an acute or sudden injury. As a general rule I recommend 24 hrs. distinguishes acute and chronic. Let's say your pet sprained an ankle chasing the ball. When it first happens, we want to apply an ice pack to the ankle for say twenty minutes at a time, moving it periodically to make sure it's not too cold. This will reduce the swelling and pain associated with the injury. The following day, I recommend a warm compress; as this increases the blood flow to repair the stretched ligaments and helps as the collagen is brought in to contract the ligaments.
At A Pet's Place we offer Cutting Edge MLS Laser therapy. Because MLS Veterinary Laser Therapy quickly relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and speeds healing to help pets return to their favorite activities — all with a pain free and non-invasive treatment! I would not want to practice without it as it has helped hundreds of our patients experience better quality, less painful and more active lives.
Veterinary acupuncture stimulates the release of the body's own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances. Relaxation of muscles at the site of needle insertion and more distant locations body is achieved with veterinary acupuncture treatment, creating both a local and generalized pain relieving effect. Veterinary acupuncture improves tissue blood flow, oxygenation, and removal of metabolic wastes and toxins. Your pet's medications or supplements will not adversely interact with veterinary acupuncture treatment; therefore it can safely be used to treat a variety of illnesses. While I do not currently perform acupuncture, I can happily refer you to a local veterinarian for treatment.
Everyone knows what STRESS feels like. The tight shoulders, headache, insomnia, maybe the upset stomach; you think but my dogs got the life, right? The fact is, our pets can be and often are stressed by numerous factors in their lives, too. The stressors may seem insignificant to us, as we grapple with the difficulties like making money, paying the bills, and handling the relationships in our lives. But, examined from their perspective, a dog or cats' life can be very difficult indeed.
Remember that the key to a happy, healthy pet is balance. Too much or too little exercise can be harmful. The same is true for socialization. Inconsistency can frustrate your pet. Boredom may be your pet's bug-a-boo. Simply making a connection with the pads of the fingers and moving the skin over the muscle in a clockwise circular motion, doing just a circle and a quarter, can help your pet recover from stress while helping to reduce your own. Pheromones are also available to reduce stress. Pheromones are a type of chemical communication between members of a species. The vomeronasal organ, which is located between the nose and mouth, receives pheromones. Certain pheromones, called calming or appeasing pheromones, can sometimes help relieve stressed pets. Pet pheromone products are said to mimic natural cat or dog pheromones and come in various forms, including sprays, plug-in diffusers, wipes, and collars. And we all know pain brings stress and agitation that can lead to aggression. Be gentle pushing on sensitive or sore areas when your pet is in pain. An additional suggestion we use is to give your pet some clothes of yours with your body smells, like a t-shirt for comfort.
Physical therapy increases the function and mobility of joints and muscles. Animal rehabilitation can reduce pain and enhance recovery from injury, surgery, degenerative diseases, age-related diseases, and obesity. The goal of physical therapy for animals is to improve quality of life and decrease pain. Although most veterinary practices offering physical therapy are geared toward canines, techniques used in this discipline can also be applied to horses, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents and other small animals. Physical therapy for orthopedic conditions can include any combination of the following techniques: exercise like the underwater treadmill, passive range of motion exercises, muscle building exercises like stairs and ramps, electrical stimulation, massage, myofasical release which involves stretching connective tissue and coordination exercises. Neurological conditions generally benefit the most from balance and coordination building exercises, but also muscle building exercises as the muscles atrophy from lack of use, electrical stimulation and hydrotherapy. Traumatic injuries are generally treated with cold/heat therapy, massage, electrical stimulation, and hydrotherapy.
We have had success with:
Arnica – good for general pain, stiffness due to overexertion, soreness and musculoskeletal injuries
Hypericum – is an excellent remedy to give for any pain due to nerve damage or injuries to nerve-rich areas. I once closed my finger in a window and learned firsthand the wonders of Hypericum. Great for when you cut your pet's toenails too short.
Rhus tox – for arthritis that's better after moving around, general musculoskeletal injuries, red swollen eyes, skin infections and skin itching.
Ruta – fantastic for any injury to tendons or ligaments and this remedy has a real affinity for the knee so you would use it immediately after any knee or cruciate injury.