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From dealing with bad knees to recovering from a recent surgery, cats nationwide are benefiting from new interest in animal pain management treatments. There are now more pain alleviation options to help you and your cat, no matter the situation, whether you have an elderly cat or one suffering from a more chronic condition.
How the Process Starts
All veterinarians offer pain medications, but you might want a secondary way to alleviate your pet’s discomfort that can complement traditional drug treatments. Many veterinarians can now suggest various options for you to explore.
The first step is to accurately understand the root of your cat's pain. Your cat will likely have to undergo routine blood tests and X-rays. “These allow us to see exactly what’s going on,” says Michele Beveridge, practice manager of Mountain Ridge Animal Hospital & Pain Management centre in Lafayette, Colorado.
Cats are notorious for hiding pain and illness. Conversely, some of their behaviours might be misinterpreted as pain. It’s therefore essential to find out the truth behind the symptoms. “We cannot just pass out medications,” says Beveridge. “If medications are prescribed, we also have to run routine blood tests, since each individual handles medications differently.”
Once a diagnosis is made, one or more pain medications may be prescribed. Alternative treatments that could be offered in addition to the prescribed medications may include one or more of the following:
- Acupuncture: Small-animal acupuncture care is becoming more common both nationally and internationally. Mark Bianchi, a holistic veterinarian at the White Oaks Veterinary Clinic in Edmond, Oklahoma, is certified to provide veterinarian acupuncture by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. “As pets age, natural wear and tear on the joints can lead to pain and reduce a pet’s ability to move comfortably,” says Bianchi. “Pets that have sustained an accident injury may also suffer recurring pain, even after the injury has healed. Pet acupuncture is a natural way to relieve this pain by restoring balance to the nervous system and enhancing a pet’s natural endorphins for pain relief.”
- Massage: As with humans, massage can be a way to reduce pain, stress and discomfort for cats. Gentle pressure and stroking release endorphins in a cat's brain, which block pain receptors. Your vet may be able to advise you on some simple massage techniques to help ease your cat's pain, or refer you to a local holistic animal therapist. Be aware that massage may not be appropriate for all types of pain, and you should always take care to be gentle and sensitive to any areas where your cat hurts.
- Homeopathy: There are a growing number of veterinarians who now specialise in holistic animal care in the UK, and many of them use homeopathy as a way to treat chronic pain and illness. This treatment involves indentifying specific supplements or oils that can help to balance you cat's immune and nervous systems.
- Nutrition: What your cat eats can directly impact its health. Your vet will be able to advise you on special cat food formulas that can help ease your cat's chronic condition. Specialists may also look into supplements that you can add to your cat's diet to boost health and minimise discomfort.
Cats Can Live a Pain-free Life
Thanks to new therapies and animal pain management specialists, your cat has a very good chance of living a long, healthy and pain-free life. If your cat suffers from a serious illness, sometimes discomfort can hurt the chances for healing. For example, many cat cancer patients suffer from appetite loss after chemotherapy. Bianchi believes acupuncture can help to both relieve pain following cancer treatments and prevent this loss of appetite that often happens. Your cat then has a better chance of eating as usual, keeping your pet’s strength up at a time when fortitude is needed.
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