Pet Points / New treatments may ease pain in pets

Pain in animals is a hot topic right now. With a heightened sensitivity, the veterinary community is increasingly aware and proactive in recognizing and treating pain.

Everyone can relate to the discomfort of a bad tooth or other dental pain. Periodontal disease with inflammation or a tooth abscess is quite uncomfortable. With increasing frequency we are pre-empting pain with advanced procedures, protocols and intervention.

Cat owners should be aware that signs of discomfort are not always obvious. Discuss any concerns with your veterinarian and staff.

Cats often have problems with enamel erosions, called cervical root lesions. These lesions can erode the tooth until the pulp or nerve is exposed. Removing diseased teeth can bring comfort.

Cats can have pain associated with urinary tract disease. Although the cat does not always show discomfort, the pain of an overstretched bladder must be excruciating. Arthritis in cats can be even harder to diagnose. Some signs are reluctance to climb stairs to reach the litter box or less frequent jumping on counters and furniture.

Outside cats frequently get into fights and suffer abscesses. These infected wounds can be quite painful until they heal. Prompt treatment with antibiotics and pain medication will help your cat recover quickly. To keep them safe, it is better if they are not allowed to roam at night.

Fortunately for cats, new and exciting medications are being marketed, and their proper use can bring pain relief.

Dogs are less subtle than cats in showing the discomfort of arthritis. Limping can indicate chronic osteoarthritis, which is common in older dogs. Multimodal therapy can help as well as weight loss and moderate low-impact exercise.

Animal surgeons often use multiple drugs to manage their patients' pain. Sometimes it is an injectable nerve-blocking agent like lidocaine. Also common is a pet-specific nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. Other safe and effective medications include glucosamine, fatty acids and other nutritional supplements. Often heat can be applied with a warm towel or cold for an acute injury.

Laser therapy brings a whole new spectrum of relief. By using a multiple-point approach, we can blunt the pain reactions.

At a recent local seminar, we reviewed the complexity of the pain response. The biochemical pathways to pain and the ways to block the discomfort were discussed in detail. The result was a deepening of our appreciation of how animals feel and respond to pain and discomfort.

Lawrence Gerson is a veterinarian and founder of the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic. His biweekly column is intended to educate pet owners. Consultation with a veterinarian is necessary to diagnose and treat individual pets. If you have a question you'd like addressed in Pet Points, email Include your name and municipality or neighborhood. First Published October 11, 2013 8:00 PM