My, how things have changed, I hope. For the last thirty years I have been a veterinarian. During that time, I have believed in, and explained to owner a number of misconceptions
Pet Pain Myth #1 – Don’t worry. Animals don’t feel pain the way people do.
The basic anatomy and physiology of pain, in man and animals, are remarkable similar. It is reasonable to assume that something that is painful to a person is also painful to our animals. Based on what we know about about the nervous system and how pain signals are processed in the body, there is no longer any excuse for allowing animal pain to go unmanaged.
Pain Management Myth #2 – Pain benefits an animal because it limits activity.
This is most often used as a reason NOT to provide analgesia (pain management) following surgery. It is based on the idea that an animal in pain is less likely to move around and cause further injury. In reality, animals are more likely to aggravate surgical sites or injuries. Managing pain, so that it is tolerable, enables the patient to rest.
Pain Management Myth #3 – Animals tolerate pain better than humans do.
This misconception is the belief that animals tolerate pain better than humans do. In reality, the ability to tolerate pain may be the animal’s need to hide it’s pain from predators. Showing obvious signs of pain makes them easy prey. This is easily seen in a cat’s ability to hide pain.
Pain Myth #4 – Elective Surgical Procedures do not require “take-home” medication.
Few conditions require just one dose, or one day, of pain medication. In human medicine, it is accepted that postop pain persists longer than the first 24 hrs following surgery. Acute pain is usually most intense during the first 24 to 72 hrs after tissue injury, and lasts for days and weeks, depending on the extent of tissue damage or inflammation. With orthopedic procedures (bone pain), animals may experience significant pain for several weeks.
Pain Management Myth #5 – Animals tolerate pain better than humans do.
This misconception is the belief that some animals tolerate pain better than humans do. In reality, the ability to tolerate pain may simply be the animals innate need to hide it’s pain. Demonstrating obvious signs of pain alerts predators that the animal may be easy prey.