VCA Animal Hospitals

Addressing and treating pain in older dogs

Published: Jul 20, 2012

Back to News

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 However, owners can usually tell their dog is in pain if he is whimpering, or becomes quiet, withdrawn or inactive.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, 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. 


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.