Pets Matter newsletter

December 19, 2007

Accredited Practices Assess Pets for Pain

Originally published in the AAHA's PetsMatter Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 5

SOUTH YARMOUTH—Shari Sears knew something was wrong with Butterscotch, her 15-year-old cat.

"She would cry and just didn't seem happy at all," said Sears, who monitors the cat's glucose levels and gives her insulin shots to regulate her diabetes. "She was not her perky little self," she recalled.

Sears took Butterscotch to Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, an AAHA accredited clinic in Massachusetts, where Thomas M. Burns, DVM, diagnosed her with acute pancreatitis. He included a pain management exam and a management plan with her medical workup.

Veterinary technicians at the hospital monitor patients for pain when they check their temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. "If the entire team is on board, it equals better pain management for your pet," Burns said.

Before Butterscotch got sick with pancreatitis, Sears had not thought about pain management but said she saw signs of improvement the first time she visited Butterscotch in the hospital. "She seemed more comfortable," she said.

Hundreds of pets like Butterscotch benefit from AAHA's pain management standard, which requires accredited hospitals to assess every patient for pain and provide pain management programs.

"Pre-emptive pain control is an important aspect of the AAHA standards," said Spencer Tally, PharmD, DVM, at Pet Vet Clinic, an AAHA-accredited hospital in Georgia. He describes pain management as an essential component of the medicine he provides, and believes that it speeds recovery. "We help clients relate to the need for pain control by comparing the pain humans experience with similar procedures or illnesses," he explained.

When patients are scheduled for surgeries or other painful procedures, AAHA-accredited professionals anticipate the level of pain they could experience and treat accordingly.

"I believe proactive pain control not only eases discomfort for patients but increases the likelihood of a successful outcome," Burns said.

Click here for more information about pain assessments.

Copyright 2007, American Animal Hospital Association