Our pets can’t tell us what they are feeling in words, however through observing their body language, we can notice changes in their behaviour that may indicate pain.
Pain can occur with a vast array of chronic diseases, some not so obvious, for example dental disease, arthritis, back pain, ear infections, pancreatitis and cancer.
Top five signs of chronic pain are:
- Decreased Activity. Is your dog less enthusiastic for walks lately? Does your cat lay around more than usual or have they stopped climbing on to their favourite perch? Be careful not to assume this is normal ageing. There could be a medical condition that will improve with treatment.
- Changes in habits. Is your cat grooming less? Has your dog stopped jumping into the car or onto furniture? Are they interacting less with family? Reluctance to use stairs or groom can often occur with back or joint pain.
- Loss of toilet training. Dogs and cats might start to toilet inside if it hurts too much to walk to their usual spot, squeeze through the dog door or navigate steps. It could be painful to squat.
- Lameness. Is your pet stiff when getting out of bed, hunched or favouring a leg? You might see them shifting their weight or unable to stand in one place for long if their joints are aching.
- Aggression. Perhaps your pet is growling or snapping when petted to protect a painful area. Are they avoiding a playmate who asks for a tumble because it’s going to hurt?
Detecting chronic pain in your pet can be challenging. Body language is their only way to tell us when something is wrong, physically or emotionally.
Watch carefully for changes in their behaviour and contact the practice to arrange a check up if you notice a change in your pet’s behaviour.
Eye injuries are an emergency at Hall Vet Surgery. If your pet has a tightly closed or red eye, with or without a watery or pussy discharge, phone us immediately.
Eye injuries are painful and dogs will rub and damage the eye further if not promptly treated.
Injury to the eye damages the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eyeball.
Blunt trauma, from a grass seed caught under the eyelid, or a laceration like a cat scratch or scratch from a branch or grass are very common causes of corneal injury. Chemicals such as irritating shampoos or sprays may also damage the cornea.
Corneal damage interferes with vision, creates problems deeper in the eye and, if not treated, lead to loss of the eye.
At the Surgery we apply a local anaesthetic and examine the eye for a grass seed or other foreign body under the upper, lower or third eyelids. A fluorescein dye highlights scratches or ulceration of the cornea.
Treatment of corneal injuries depends on the extent of the damage. Superficial corneal damage is treated with antibiotic ointments and pain relief. Surgery or hospitalisation is necessary for deeper injury to protect or repair the eye.
Seizures are not uncommon in dogs but rare in cats. Seizures are also known as convulsions or fits.
Seizures consist of three stages:
- During the pre-ictal phase, or aura, affected dogs hide, appear nervous, or seek out their owners. They whine, shake and salivate for a few seconds or a few hours.
- The ictal phase is the seizure itself and lasts from a few seconds to several minutes. All muscles contract strongly. The dog falls on its side and seems paralysed while shaking violently. The head bends back. Urination, defecation, and salivation usually occur. Most dogs lose consciousness and don’t respond to human contact. Some pace, run in circles or exhibit uncharacteristic behaviour such as aggression. If your dog does not recover within 5 minutes, it may go into status epilepticus, going from one seizure into the next without respite.
- During the post-ictal phase, they salivate and pace, and are confused, disoriented, restless and sometimes temporarily blind.
Despite the dramatic signs of a seizure, the dog feels no pain, only bewilderment.
Dogs do not swallow their tongues. Do not put your fingers in your seizuring dog’s mouth as you will get bitten.
All you can do is to prevent your seizuring dog from falling or hurting himself.
As long as he is on the floor or ground and away from steps or drops, there is little chance of harm occurring.
Epilepsy for no detectable reason is the most common type of seizure. Some toxins such as lead, hallucinogens or snail bait cause seizures. Blows to the head and, in older dogs, brain tumours also result in seizures.
What tests can we do to find the cause?
We start with a full general examination and a neurological examination. Blood and urine tests help rule out metabolic causes for brain dysfunction.
If all tests are normal and there is no exposure to poison or recent trauma, we may consider further tests including a cerebrospinal fluid examination, MRI or CT scans.
How do we prevent future seizures?
If there are no more seizures in the next few weeks, treatment is not given. If the seizures become frequent, last longer than 5 minutes each time or occur in clusters then we start anticonvulsant therapy. Usually Phenobarbitone (also known as Phenomav or Phenobarb) is the first drug we try. Potassium bromide (also known as Bromide or KBr) is added in if Phenobarbitone is not as effective as hoped or is not tolerated well.