Pets and Pain

Whether animals can feel pain has been a controversial issue for many years. Animals and humans share similar mechanisms of pain detection, have similar areas of the brain involved in processing pain and show similar pain behaviors, but it is difficult to assess how animals actually experience pain.

The standard measure of pain in humans is how a person reports that pain, for example, on a pain scale. "Pain" is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential damage, or described in terms of such damage." Only the person experiencing the pain can know the pain's quality and intensity, and the degree of suffering.

However, it is harder to assess for pets. Pain in animals has been defined as an aversive sensory experience caused by actual or potential injury that elicits protective motor and vegetative reactions which can result in learned avoidance and may modify species-specific behavior, including social behavior. Our pets cannot report their feelings to language-using humans in the same manner as human communication, but observation of their behavior provides a reasonable indication as to the extent of their pain. Just as with doctors and medics who sometimes share no common language with their patients, the indicators of pain can still be understood. Drs. Harris and Skavdahl frequently attend continuing education seminars at which many sessions focus on and emphasize the recognition of pain and effective management of pain.

The pharmaceutical companies are continually striving to provide the best pain management drugs for our patients. We strongly believe that Companion Therapy Laser provides additional relief that pain medications alone cannot provide.

This combination of knowledge and continued advances in therapies allows us to provide the best pain management care for your pet.

If you feel your pet is in pain, review the Visual Pain Scale and please call our office for a thorough examination.


Pain Management