Pay attention to your pet’s pain, Animals Hurt, too

Pay attention to your pet’s pain, Animals Hurt, too

When I was a veterinary student about 30-years ago, I was bitten by a dog. It was not his fault. In retrospect, I should have muzzled him and got help. The real fault was that he had just had a pelvic surgery and had NO PAIN CONTROL! Back then we were taught (erroneously) that pets did not “feel” pain the same as people do or it was OK to be painful since it kept them from being “too active” post op. We now know that any medical condition that is painful in a human causes pain in animals.

Pets now are suffering from untreated pain mainly due to lack of education of pet owners. We often hear clients with older animals say: “he’s just old or he’s slowing down”. Often, that pet is in pain.

Check the teeth. If they are discolored, loose, broken or the gums are red/bleed easily, they are in pain.

  • If your pet is limping, they are in pain.
  • If a pet has surgery, there WILL be pain.
  • If your older cat cannot climb into its normal resting spots or has a sudden change of behavior, that could indicate pain. (Note that cats are good at covering up the signs of any disease so changes in behavior warrants further investigation by your veterinarian).

In Oregon it is not “optional” for Vets to provide analgesia to their patients in pain, it is legally required. For surgeries, we do pre-op opiate medication, local nerve block, NSAID and oral pain medication to go home. For conditions like arthritis we use multimodal pain control. There is no “magic bullet” so expect a combination of treatments: Rx meds, supplements, therapies like laser, acupuncture, chiropractic and physical therapy to make our patients feel better and live happier lives.

The good news is there are great options for treating your pet’s pain and in some cases preventing it before it starts.

Dr. Lauren Smith is a veterinarian at Hart Road Animal Hospital located at 16400 SW Hart Rd, Beaverton. Contact her at 503-591-5282 or visit