Pain Management

Our job is to advocate for pets who cannot speak for themselves. The signs of pain in pets can be subtle, and our entire team works to identify pain in our patients and see that it is treated accordingly. Pain scores (on a scale of 0 to 10, how painful are they?) are given to each patient at every evaluation. We then work as a team to make our patients comfortable.

Dr. Gwen has been a member of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management for several years. This group promotes excellent treatment of pain in animals through education of the healthcare team and pet families. The IVAPM has a certification program for veterinarians who are passionate about the most current and effective pain management for their patients. In November 2012, Dr. Gwen became the fourth Canadian to complete this and become a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner.  In 2014, she became certified in Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians.

Pain management begins with careful attention to nursing care. Pets need to feel safe and secure and be in comfortable accommodations while in hospital. Our dedicated team members ensure this happens. Pain control is used in anticipation of pain associated with surgery or injury. It is far easier to prevent pain, than to get it back under control once it escalates. Multiple types of medications, as well as non-drug therapies are employed.

Pain medication may be administered to hospitalized patients by constant rate infusion. This intravenous system is similar to the “pain pumps” used in human hospitals; however, as our patients cannot push the button to increase medications when they hurt, we control the delivery for them. Epidurals are used for many types of surgeries to deliver local anesthetics or morphine. This allows us to provide long-lasting pain relief even after the general anesthetic has worn off.

Local anesthetics are used in many ways. Whenever possible, surgical patients have their incision sites “frozen” in addition to their regular anesthesia. If we can block the pain signals from ever reaching their brain, we will. In some cases, infusion catheters are placed during major surgeries to allow local anesthetics to be given directly into the healing wound for several days following surgery.

Dr. Gwen has also been trained in the treatment of myofascial trigger points, using dry needling. When a muscle is strained, it often develops tight bands, with tiny nodules within the bands. This is the case if you suffer from neck or shoulder pain and find painful “knots” in your muscles. These trigger points develop due to direct muscle damage, or from strain and overuse when compensating for changes in adjacent areas of the body. Dry needling uses tiny needles, similar to those used in acupuncture, to treat the trigger points. This relieves the associated pain and can restore normal function.

Many of the treatments used in rehabilitation are also valuable for pain management. This includes therapeutic laser, ultrasound and electrotherapy. We will recommend the combination of therapies that we feel is best suited to your pet’s needs.

Pain management is a team effort and our clients are a huge part of that team. Your feedback on your pet’s comfort level, and what seems to work for them, is an important piece of the puzzle.