Pain Management

We want your pet to be as


as possible. Pain in animals is as significant and common as it is in people. Our staff does not want your pet feeling any discomfort, therefore pain management is very important to us at Sunset Animal Hospital. Each animal is unique when it comes to their pain threshold, and most can hide their pain well. Because we understand that it is important to recognize signs of pain or discomfort, we have a team of dedicated veterinarians and certified technicians who are committed to your best friend’s comfort.

Dog and cat pain awareness


Pain management has become an important issue in veterinary medicine. It can improve the recovery process by reducing stress and increasing a sense of well-being and may even help your pet live longer. Before delving in deeper, let’s discuss acute and chronic pain.


Acute pain comes on suddenly as a result of an injury, surgery, inflammation, or infection. It can be extremely uncomfortable for your pet and it may limit his or her mobility. Fortunately, it is usually temporary and generally subsides when the condition that caused it is treated.


Chronic pain is long-lasting and usually slow to develop. Some of the most common sources of chronic pain are age-related disorders, such as arthritis, but it can also be a result of illnesses, such as cancer or bone disease. This pain may be the hardest to deal with because it can continue for up to an animal’s entire lifetime. Also, because it develops slowly, some animals may gradually learn to tolerate the pain, making it difficult to detect.

dog and cat

Animals instinctually hide pain. How do you know when your pet is hurting? Look for any of the following signs:

Cats can be especially good at hiding illnesses. Owners should look out for these specific things in their felines:

  • Reduced activity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Quiet/loss of curiosity
  • Changes in urinary/defecation habits
  • Hiding
  • Hissing or spitting
  • Lack of agility/jumping
  • Excessive licking/grooming
  • Stiff posture/gait
  • Guarding behavior
  • Stops grooming/matted fur
  • Tail flicking
  • Weight loss

Many times dog owners feel that their pet is just “getting old” or “slowing down”. Many times, however, it can actually be chronic pain. Look for these common signs of longer-lasting pain in your dog: 

  • Decreased social interaction
  • Anxious expression
  • Submissive behavior
  • Refusal to move
  • Whimpering
  • Howling
  • Growling
  • Guarding behavior
  • Aggression; biting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Self-mutilation (chewing)
  • Changes in posture



There are a variety of pain medications currently available for pets. Aside from pill form, many drugs come in easily administrable forms, such as liquids, skin patches, or gels. There are also new analgesic (pain-reducing) products to help treat your pet after an injurious trauma or to help treat chronic pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are often used to treat orthopedic-related pain with fewer side effects. Other medications, most notably narcotics, can be used concurrently as the condition dictates.

Besides combinations of medications, other techniques, such as laser therapy, are often effective, potentially without medications or with low doses. Certain supplements (e.g., fish oils, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate) can also be used, especially for chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis and degenerative joint diseases. Never give your pet any medication without consulting your veterinarian. Certain painkillers, including acetaminophen (found in Tylenol) and ibuprofen (found in Advil and Motrin) or combinations of medications, can be toxic to pets, even in very small doses.


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Dr. Vega

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