Identification of an animal in pain

Like humans, animals feel pain of differing intensity.  Assessing the level of an animal’s pain can be difficult, particularly when the pain in chronic and the animal continues behaving in much the same way as it normally does.   There are several signs that may help you identify if an animal is in chronic pain:

  • Obvious changes in activity levels
  • Obvious changes to behaviour or personality
  • Changes in appetite, an animal in pain may eat less
  • Changes in gait, such as limping
  • Lack of grooming over a painful area
  • Biting, scratching or licking of painful area
  • Changes in social behaviour, less social

Pain Relief Medication

Provision of natural pain relief for your animal is often considered desirable especially when they are unable to take conventional pain relief medications. There are many situations why this may be the case, for example if an animal has heart or liver disease. The use of natural pain medication may help reduce or eliminate the need for conventional pain relief.  

Of course the first treatment in any soft tissue or swelling is ice.

Herbal Treatment

Herbal pet care is now well established, there are several effective herbal remedies for pets.

Turmeric is well known as an anti-inflammatory.  It is said to work in a similar way to cortisone.   Some other properties of turmeric include anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and cholesterol reduction.  Turmeric can be fed safely to dogs as a supplement.  Use at a rate of ¼ of a teaspoon per kg of bodyweight, mixed well with food.  Take care not to use if ulceration exists and additionally if the animal is on anti-clotting medications.

Ginger acts as an anti-spasmodic agent.  This can help with stomach and muscle pain.  For muscle pain ginger is used topically as a poultice.

Feverfew is also an anti-inflammatory and is very commonly used for migraine and arthritis and is an aspirin alternative for cats.  Feverfew is best used as a tea or a tincture at a dose of ½ teaspoon strong tea for every 20 lb of the dog’s body weight 2 times a day, or 12 drops of tincture, 2 times a day.

Devil’s Claw is also another anti-inflammatory used for arthritis and back pain.  It is often used in conjunction with other herbs such as valerian for pain relief.

Skullcap is a herbal nervine.  It is used to treat pain from nerve related injuries and is often combined with St Johns Wort.   Skullcap is administered as an alcohol tincture.  For every 20lb of dog’s body weight combine 12 drops of skullcap and 12 drops of St Johns Wort.   Give the dog 12 drops of this mixture, 3 times a day.

Cayenne contains a powerful pain blocking chemical capsaicin.  This herb also activates the anti-inflammatory properties at the site where it is administered.  For this reason it is often used as a cream.

Yucca also contains a powerful chemical called saponin which has anti-inflammatory actions.  This compound also stimulates the body’s own cortiocosteriods and related hormones.  Yucca is often used for arthritis management in dogs as it is considered far safer than synthetic drugs.

In all cases it is best to get herbs prescribed by a veterinarian who is experienced in using herbal medicines for animals.  This is important as there may be interactions with other drugs and/or contraindications.

Tactile Therapies

Animal tactile therapy or physical therapy has grown in popularity over recent years as owners and veterinary experts have come to recognise its benefit to animals. Physical therapy is used for many purposes including post-operation treatment or to manage pain such as arthritis. It can also be used to improve form and function, reduce the chance of strains and improve behaviour.






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