It takes a special heart to love older creatures in the geriatric stage of life and learn how to care for them. Even people who could barely keep a plant alive before they found their pet find that, whatever they thought they were capable of before, they suddenly have the strength to care for an animal who is aging. To us, that’s part of the miracle of having a pet.
Watching someone you care for go through something difficult is never easy, but it’s even harder when the one you love can’t express their pain in words or tell you where or how much it hurts. Worst of all is when your animal surgeon shares the news that your pet’s pain isn’t isolated, but will be ongoing.
We have loved lots of patients at LazyPaw Animal Hospitals who have gone through everything from osteoarthritis to cancer to just plain chronic aging pain. Diet, daily care, and whatever exercise is possible are all essential to pain management, but as doctors we can also provide additional solutions to help our friends live gracefully and free of dismal aches.
These medications for dogs are the most common when a canine is suffering from pain, but not all dogs will benefit from or tolerate each medicine. Because every dog is different, it’s essential that a professional vet clinic prescribes and monitors dosage and side effects for each treatment.
Amantadine is a medicine originally developed as an antiviral drug, but it’s also useful for treating chronic pain in dogs. The medicine partially blocks receptors in the central nervous system that create pain pathways, and it works best in combination with other pain relievers your vet may prescribe. Side effects include diarrhea and gas as well as possible agitation, but are usually low and tend to resolve as the animal becomes used to the medicine. Dogs with a history of liver or kidney problems, congestive heart failure, and seizure disorders should avoid amantadine.
Tramadol binds to opioid receptors in the brain and changes the reuptake of select neurotransmitters so the pet’s perception of pain is lessened. Like amantadine, it works best in combination with other pain relievers. The pills taste bitter so should be hidden in food, and it’s best to start with a low dose. Though generally well tolerated, the medicine may cause sedation, incoordination, anxiety and agitation, poor appetite, tremors, and gastrointestinal upset.
A Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) drugs are the most common pain medication class. They include carprofen, deracoxib, etodolac, firocoxib, and meloxicam. Humans use NSAIDS in the form of aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen. NSAIDs block enzymes that manage the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, which create swelling and pain. The most common side effect of NSAIDS for dogs is a decreased appetite.
If you know your animal is getting older and beginning to show signs of discomfort, talk to your pet clinic about solutions. Animal surgeons are trained doctors who can offer different options to help you and your pet cope with aches and pains.