Injuries like strains, sprains, and muscle soreness are common in athletic, agility, and working dogs. Many house pets also have undiagnosed gait abnormalities and suffer some degree of related pain. Some athletic injuries require surgical intervention, but many are treatable with nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and therapeutic laser.
Back pain is common in dogs with arthritis because arthritic pets change the way they move to favour the affected joints, creating an abnormal strain on the back muscles. The resulting pain can be mild or severe. We use a number of methods to help ease back pain including therapeutic laser, myofascial trigger point dry needling or acupuncture, massage, and thermotherapy. Although your pet may experience immediate relief, ongoing treatments are usually required to control the problem.
Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, is the most common cause of cancer-related pain in dogs. Early intervention and a combination of oral and intravenous drug therapy are the most effective weapons against the complex pain caused by this condition.
The most common orthopedic complaint in dogs is cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) injury. The majority of veterinarians prefer surgical intervention, but others, citing advances in the science of rehabilitation, advocate a conservative approach consisting of anti-inflammatory medications, rest, controlled exercise, weight control and sometimes stem cell therapy.
A complete rupture of the CCL causes severe joint instability that cannot be corrected by conservative therapy, which might in fact cause more damage to the joint. Conservative therapy can however be appropriate for a partial rupture. Often, however, a partial rupture progresses into a complete rupture.
We consider each patient’s condition and circumstances and weigh all options for treatment. Dr. Scott is an expert in all forms of surgical CCL repair and works with our Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner, Penny Radostits, to provide non-surgical therapies when appropriate.
Some dogs have pain without a known or identified cause. These patients often suffer from spinal cord signal malprocessing. Pain management can help such patients regain normal or near-normal levels of function and comfort.
Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord. It causes hind limb weakness, lack of coordination, and eventually, paralysis. It is not typically painful in itself, but an abnormal compensatory gait often causes muscular back pain. There is no cure for degenerative myelopathy, but the associated pain can be controlled with nutrition, physical rehabilitation, and stem cell therapy. Assistive devices may become appropriate in later stages.
Fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) is an interruption of the blood supply to the spinal cord that causes severe neurological symptoms including paralysis. The rate and extent of recovery depends on the level of damage. Treatment is determined by the location of the embolism and the nature of the associated pain and symptoms.
Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint and is the leading cause of osteoarthritis in the hip. There are a number of options for surgical correction of this condition. Conservative therapies like physical rehabilitation and stem cell therapy can also be effective.
Internal disease pain
Many diseases do not cause actual pain, but make your pet feel unwell. Because patients with organ-related diseases must be kept free of discomfort to support recovery, we look for and treat causes of concurrent pain like dental disease, joint disease, and back pain in addition to addressing the primary disorder.
Intervertebral disc disease, the bulging of one or more spinal discs between the vertebrae, is a common cause of back pain and weakness in dogs. It can be caused by trauma, but is more often the result of disc degeneration. In mild cases, IVDD can be treated non-surgically with medication and therapies like acupuncture, therapeutic laser, chiropractic, massage and physical rehabilitation. If episodes become more frequent or severe, surgical intervention may become necessary.
Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a caused by sensitive hotspots in muscles called myofascial trigger points. Primary MPS usually occurs in athletic dogs and is caused by injury. Secondary MPS is caused by compensatory overuse or overloading of otherwise uninjured muscles, and is a common complication of osteoarthritis, orthopedic injury, or neurologic injury.
A combination of massage, therapeutic laser therapy, and myofascial trigger point dry needling or acupuncture is used to treat this condition.
Osteoarthritis, the loss of the protective cartilage within a joint, is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs and cats. The gradual degeneration of the cartilage results in painful bone-on-bone contact and a thinning of the fluid which lubricates and cushions the joints.
Arthritis is the biggest reason dogs and cats slow down as they age. Many middle-aged and older animals show signs of it, and overweight or inactive pets and those with a history of joint injury are more susceptible.
We can control the pain of arthritis with medication and therapy, restoring pain-free mobility and slowing the progression of the disease. There are fewer pain medications that can be used in cats than in dogs, but there are options, and arthritic cats often benefit from rehabilitative therapies like massage, therapeutic laser, and acupuncture.
The control of postsurgical pain begins prophylactically prior to surgery. Surgical pain is best treated with a combination of medications – opiates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, local anesthetics and sometimes epidurals. The appropriate combination depends on the patient and the procedure. Post-operative pain control typically combines medication and physical rehabilitation.
It’s never an easy decision, but when the time comes you will know in your heart. You’ll want to consider quality of life – does your dog or cat still have a good appetite? Does she still want to do the things she’s always done and enjoyed? Your dog may still get excited to go for walks but not be able to go as far – that’s ok. But when he no longer shows excitement for walk-time, and no longer shows any interest in any of the things that have always brought him joy, it’s time.
It can be useful to assess and record your pet’s status on the same day each week, because as the gradual decline progresses, you see your own written proof that the good days are outnumbered by the bad days. When you realize that there is no longer going to be a better week, but that all weeks are only going to be worse, you will more easily be able to make the compassionate decision to give your friend the final gift of ending their suffering.