Pain Management


In recent years, veterinarians have made great progress in understanding how animals feel pain and the best ways to manage that pain. Many animals will instinctively hide their pain as a survival mechanism which in the past led to incorrect assumptions about the ability of dogs and cats to feel pain. Because we now understand more about how pets feel pain, we know how to recognize it and manage it.

Signs that your pet might be in pain may include:

  • Depression and/or inactivity
  • Rising slowly or “collapsing” to lie down
  • Walking with a stiff gait, especially after getting up
  • Standing or sitting in unusual positions
  • Trembling
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Whining, whimpering, howling, or constantly meowing
  • Constantly licking or chewing at a particular part of the body
  • Acting funny and out of character, either aggressively or submissively
  • Unable to get comfortable (constantly changes positions to find the most comfortable position)
  • Develops new and inappropriate behavior like chewing on objects such as wood (may indicate a dental issue)

Pain management has become an important issue in veterinary medicine. The American Animal Hospital Association along with the American Association of Feline Practitioners recently released the AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. These guidelines show that pain management helps improve the recovery process, whether from illness, surgery or injury. Because it reduces stress and increases a sense of well being, pain management may even help your pet live longer.

We here at Far Hills Animal Clinic recognize the importance of pain management and will always strive to keep your pet comfortable in all situations from a painful lameness to oral pain from dental disease to back pain to pain associated with a surgical procedure. Our experienced veterinarians and support staff stress empathy and compassion for all of our patients. We know that when pain is correctly assessed and treated, our patients and their owners win every time.

Occasionally, a pet that appears to be experiencing pain is given a human pain medication by its owner, who mistakenly believes that such medications are safe in dogs and cats. However, these pain medications, including aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, can be toxic to dogs and cats leading to GI ulceration, liver damage, anemia, and even death. If you suspect that your pet is experiencing pain, please speak to a veterinarian, who will work with you to find an appropriate pain management strategy. If your pet accidentally consumes human medication, please call a veterinarian or the ASPCA poison control hotline (888-426-4435) immediately!