Treat pain effectively with Tramadol

Of all of the concerns expressed by pet owners who come to my clinic, the most frequent is that they don’t want their pets to be in pain.
The desire among pet owners to eliminate pain in their pets often seems even greater than their concern for their own pain. It seems we accept the reality that we will all experience physical pain now and then, and that as we age we may have to accept some degree of chronic pain, but as pet owners we are adamant about eliminating pain from the lives of our dogs and cats.
As in human beings, the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs and cats is from joint disease or arthritis. Of more concern is pain that results from cancer. But the manner in which pain is exhibited by dogs and cats can be very different from the manner in which pain presents itself in humans. We can only treat pain effectively if we can recognize it.
Pain due to joint disease may be exhibited as lameness as it is in you and me, but a much more common sign of pain is what we call “exercise intolerance.” Dogs with arthritis, particularly those with arthritis of several joints, usually are not able to exercise to the degree they could in the past. Often they cannot go as far on a regular walk and may turn around early to go home or simply lie down when they have had enough. Cats with arthritis often are less active around the house. They may stop jumping up on furniture and spend more time lying down. Families with small children should be warned that dogs or cats that develop pain can become protective of their site of pain and may bite or scratch. Other common signs of pain in pets are depression and decreased appetite. These signs may be associated with almost any source of pain.
Fortunately for our pets, the management of pain has improved dramatically in the last 10 years. When I first joined the faculty of a veterinary school in California, we were very limited on the medications we could prescribe for home management of pain in pets. Aspirin was the most common medication we used, and while it is very effective in treating pain in dogs, the dosages require to achieve adequate pain relief often cause serious stomach irritation and ulcers. Since then a classification of drugs called NSAIDs has become widely available. NSAID stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and it includes such drugs as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam and others. These drugs work in a way that is similar to aspirin but with a much lower chance of stomach upset. However, these drugs have a small potential to cause liver or kidney disease. That is why their use should always be regulated by a veterinarian and why many doctors recommend regular blood tests (about every 6 months) if a pet is on one of these medications on a regular basis. These medications have dramatically improved the quality of life of dogs and cats with chronic pain and are safe in the vast majority of animals. There is no one best brand, and any medication may help or have side effects in any pet.
Nutritional supplements have become very popular in the treatment of joint pain in dogs and cats, but there are a few things that are very important for pet owners to understand regarding these products.
First, the evidence regarding their effectiveness remains controversial, and while I recommend nutritional supplements for my patients with arthritis, it is important that owners understand that they will not work in all cases.
Second, nutritional supplements are not regulated by the government, and some studies have shown that some products falsely list the actual content of the product. So, the buyer must beware and look to independent sources such as your veterinarian, Consumer Reports or to determine the quality of a product.
For more acute pain, veterinarians have recently been prescribing a drug called Tramadol. This is a synthetic opiate that can be very effective in the treatment of more severe pain. Another drug for acute pain is a fentanyl patch. Fentanyl is an opiate that can be absorbed through the skin; however, the patches last for only about three days and owners must be very careful with these patches around small children.
Finally, there are numerous alternative therapies that may aid in the treatment of pain in our pets. There is evidence that acupuncture can significantly aid in pain management, particularly in the treatment of arthritis.
The most basic goal of veterinary medicine is the restoration of quality of life and function for our patients. We are fortunate to be in a time when we have so many methods of treating pain in our pets.