While pain medication may provide relief for many people who suffer from a variety of chronic pain conditions like arthritis, prescribing such medications to our furry friends is a little more complex. Weighing the risks and benefits is extremely important in such cases, as even a simple misjudgment can cause severe health issues and even death.
Unlike us, our pets are unable to effectively communicate the amount of pain they are actually in. This makes proper dosing somewhat of an issue, as it’s difficult to judge the amount of relief a pet feels from any given dose. With such uncertainty, improper or over dosing is a real issue.
Aside from typical dosing issues, certain drugs have relatively common side effects when administered to pets. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been known to cause gastrointestinal ulcers and perforations, as well as kidney issues and liver toxicity. Any pet with a prior history of liver or kidney issues should avoid NSAIDs whenever possible. According to the FDA, other NSAID side effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased activity level
When deciding whether or not to administer pain medications to your pet, it is important to weigh all of the aforementioned risks.
- How much pain is your pet actually in?
- Will the medication provide long-term relief?
- What are my pet’s other options?
With health conditions like arthritis, many owners have been able to help their pet find relief through natural means such as supplementation (see Flexpet). Unless your pet is in a dire condition that requires immediate and swift pain relief, use the time to try alternative therapies and treatments. You may find that your pet responds well to certain kinds.