Feeling pain is extremely subjective. Perceiving it depends heavily on the individual. It may be defined as the perception by a living being of a harmful stimulus that is potentially damaging to its body.
But, what are these harmful stimuli? Unfortunately, there are many causes for pain: chemical, mechanical, swelling, insufficient blood supply, trauma, exposure to extreme temperatures...
The problem of pain changes when it affects pets. They are unable to tell you they are in pain in so many words. When your dear friends wish to warn you that they are uncomfortable they whine, whimper, lift their paws, adopt unusual postures, do not move, are unusually listless or even modify their personality or behaviour. But these signs only warn you that something is going on, they do not tell you what is causing the discomfort of how it affects them. This is why it is so important to be aware that something is wrong, especially in the less obvious cases, whatever the cause, because the prognosis will be better the sooner you take your pet to the vet. Besides, veterinary surgeons are prepared to act even though their patients cannot help them by telling them what is wrong.
This type of situation requires you to be very cautious when you approach your pet, since the animal could react aggressively if the pain increases when you touch or move it.
The most important point to keep in mind in pain management in pets is that you should not medicate them on your own. In all cases, administering medication not prescribed professionally could cause important problems. Aspirin, for example, has a very serious effect on cats, and may even cause death. And this is only one example of the consequences of pain-relief medicine.
In every situation where there is pain, the first step is always diagnosing the exact cause of the problem and prescribing two different treatments: the first one for the pain, mainly through the use of painkillers, and the other one for its cause. But you should always consult a veterinary surgeon.
In conclusion, the goal is to alleviate or eliminate pain by following these steps so the affected part of the body may once more function normally.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
Mendez Nuñez, 38 · 03002 Alicante
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