VCA Animal Hospitals

Addressing and treating pain in older dogs

Published: Jul 20, 2012

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If your dog is reaching senior status, you may notice he has less energy than he used to and is not as active in general. While it's normal for energy levels to drop as a dog gets older, it's also important to make sure it's not pain keeping your dog from play. If it is, there are a number of treatments that may improve your canine's quality of life.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, dogs instinctively hide pain as a survival mechanism, so it's not always easy to tell when your canine is suffering. However, owners can usually tell their dog is in pain if he is whimpering, or becomes quiet, withdrawn or inactive. Stiffness, limping and lagging behind on walks are also clear indicators.

Conditions that cause discomfort, such as osteoarthritis, dental problems and abcesses, tend to be more common in older dogs, Dogster.com reports. Plus, many senior dogs suffer from more than one condition that causes them pain, making treating the pain more complicated. For example, a dog with aching, arthritic joints may feel more pain after surgery to remove a cancerous mass. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments for pain in dogs.

If you suspect your dog is in pain, bring him to the veterinarian to treat any underlying issues and determine the best plan of action for managing pain.

The type of medication or other treatment your veterinarian recommends will depend on the cause of the pain. Your veterinarian may recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for moderate pain like arthritis pain and inflammation, or opioids for severe surgical pain, or that from arthritis or cancer. Corticosteroids like prednisone are also commonly prescribed for arthritis pain or other inflammatory issues that can be uncomfortable for the dog, VCA reports. 

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