Pain Myths – Be proactive to keep your pet pain free.

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.

Questions to ask before purchasing pet insurance.

We have begun to see more and more patients covered by pet insurance. The more insurance companies that appear, the more difficult it is know which company best fits your pet’s needs. Here are a few questions to ask potential companies.

1. Which of their policies are available in your state?

2. Are the policies and information provided reasonably
easy to understand? Are the people you talk to
knowledgeable and helpful?

3. What happens to coverage and premiums as your
pet gets older?

4. Are there any reasons you wouldn’t be able to
renew your policy?

5. What kinds of care are excluded or limited? Are
congenital or hereditary diseases covered? What
about cancer? Is dental care covered?

6. Are conditions diagnosed within one year
excluded as preexisting conditions the next?

7. Are benefits available for wellness or preventive
care for your pet?

8. Can you choose a deductible? Can you change
the deductible from year to year? Is the deductible
annual or is it applied to each medical incident?

9. Are the waiting periods before coverage begins
reasonable?

10. Is there a maximum age for enrollment?

11. Are there limits per incident, per year, per
lifetime.

12. Is a physical examination required for enrollment
or renewal?

13. How quickly are claims processed and paid?

Be sure to visit several company websites. They should be straight forward and easy to follow. Be sure that you understand how they can help you care for your pets.

Getting Your Cat to the Vet

Oh boy, it’s time to take your cat to the vet. You have a wonderful veterinarian that takes very good care of her, but here’s the part you dread the most….getting your kitty into the carrier. That big plastic box tends to mean just one thing to most felines – trouble! So, is there anything you can do to help your kitty overcome this fear? Yes, but it’s a gradual process – one that needs to be started way before the any more trips are planned.

Take the carrier out of the closet or wherever it is currently stored and leave it out on the floor with the door open. Make it look a bit more inviting by putting soft, fluffy bedding and a favorite toy inside. Your cat’s natural curiosity will soon get the better of her and she will eventually explore it on her own. After she seems comfortable with the idea of the carrier being out in the house, place a treat near the opening. If she eats the treat, put out another one but just inside the door. Continue doing this over a space of a few days….putting the treat further inside the carrier so that she has to actually go into it to get the yummy. Once she is inside and eating the treat, pick up the carrier and simply walk it to another room. Once there, let your kitty out. Gradually increase the time she spends in the carrier until you see that she is more comfortable about the carrier itself. Once this happens you should be able to move her, in the carrier, to the car without the usual drama!

However, if your cat shakes uncontrollably or screams the whole time during the car ride then it is a good idea to get her use to going places that aren’t so frightening to her. Take her for a ride around the block, or go somewhere fun like a friend’s house. Do this often enough so that she will get the idea that car rides are not so bad, and don’t always end at the Harris Parkway Animal Hospital.

If your kitty is afraid of the car, start to desensitize her by putting her in the car for a few minutes without turning the engine on. Work up to starting the engine, backing the car out of the driveway, and then actually going on a short trip. If you slowly desensitize her to more and more of the elements associated with a car, she will eventually learn to tolerate a road trip. Remember, it takes time and patience but the reward is huge!

I want to thank the vets at Pet Care Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, Virginia for the help with our first blog post. DrYoung :o)