Acute pain is something that happens suddenly and is very painful. Examples would be breaking a leg or a sprain. On the other hand, chronic pain is something that's been going on for a long time. The most common cause of chronic pain in dogs is arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, which happens due to age.
Some signs could be aggression, biting where the pain is located, low energy, loss of appetite. Other signs could be panting more, pacing, especially panting, shifting around at night, not being able to get comfortable, swelling, or vocalizing. One of the least common signs is yelping out in pain. Pets don't typically vocalize very often unless it's acute pain, so the most common signs are subtle, like panting, pacing, and discomfort.
No, they cannot take human medications like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or Tylenol because they lack some of the enzymes in their liver to break down these medications, which can really hurt them.
We can use certain medications for pain. One first line for pets with early disease or those that may be predisposed to joint issues, like large breed dogs, is glucosamine and chondroitin. This supplement helps hydrate the joints and cartilage to make them softer and less painful. We recommend Dasaquan ESM. Pet-safe NSAIDs or anti-inflammatories are also available, like Carprofen (Remedil), meloxicam, Galiprant, and Daramax. We don't use Tramadol anymore because it's not effective for pet pain.
There's a new medication called Labrella. It's an injection given once a month, so no more oral pain medicine. It's a monoclonal antibody that blocks pain signals, allowing pets to move more freely with less pain. It has minimal side effects.
Chronic pain management is typically multimodal, involving joint supplements, anti-inflammatories, and medications like the new injection, Labrella. Like in humans, physical therapy may also be helpful.
The best place to get medications for your dog is from your veterinarian. There are many medications in the human world that can harm pets, so it's best to consult with your veterinarian first before starting any pain medicine or regimen for arthritis.
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