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September is National Animal Pain Awareness Month.

There are many issues that cause pain in our pets, such as: Intervertebral Disc Disease, Cruciate Injury, Pancreatitis, Cancer, Periodontal Disease, Muscle Strain, and Bladder Infection. However, Osteoarthritis
is widespread among our pets. Research has shown that 20% of all dogs over the age of one year have some form of arthritis. In cats over the age of six, 61% have arthritis in at least one joint and 48% have
arthritis in 2 or more joints.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease or arthritis. It is characterized by inflammation of the joint capsule, wearing of the joint cartilage, thinning of the joint fluid, and production of new bone
around the joint. The results of this are a decrease in mobility, function, enjoyment of life and increase in pain.

Age is not a disease! The chronic pain of arthritis can be subtle and a lot of times it is written off as "getting old" or "just slowing down with age". Dogs and cats can easily hide or mask their chronic pain.
They do not show their pain in a way most humans expect them to, they most likely will not cry, whine or yelp out in pain.

Common Signs of Chronic Pain in Dogs
Decreased social interaction
Anxious expression
Submissive behavior
Refusal to move
Guarding behavior
Aggression; biting
Decreased appetite
Self-mutilation (chewing)
Changes in posture

Common Signs of Pain in Cats
Reduced activity
Loss of appetite
Quiet/loss of curiosity
Changes in urinary/defecation habits
Lack of agility/jumping
Excessive licking/grooming
Stiff posture/gait
Guarding behavior
Tail flicking

Diagnosing the cause and location of pain depends on a thorough evaluation by a qualified veterinarian, who will use a good pain scoring system, palpation of all joints and muscles, and possibly diagnostic
imaging such as X rays or an MRI. Arthritis is a progressive painful disease, so the earlier we catch it in life, the better off your pet will be. 

Treatment options to help painful cats and dogs.
STEM CELL THERAPY: Stem cells are used to treat arthritis in dogs, cats, and horses by reducing pain and inflammation. Your pet’s quality of life will be restored with an increased range of motion and regeneration of tendons, ligaments, and bone. Ongoing research shows promise for treating intervertebral disc disease, liver disease, and kidney disease.

PLATELET RICH PLASMA: How does platelet therapy work? The scientific answer is that platelets activate by exposure to damaged tissue, releasing their granular contents which include anabolic growth
factors. These growth factors help attract progenitor cells to the injury site and play a key role in stimulating tissue repair through fibroblast expansion and cellular matrix production. In other, less
technical terms, when the concentrated platelets are injected into the site of damaged tissue, the platelets signal additional healing cells to migrate to the affected area to begin the process of tissue

ACUPUNCTURE & ELECTRO-ACUPUNCTURE: Acupuncture enhances blood circulation, nervous system stimulation, and the release of anti-inflammatory & pain-relieving hormones.
INTRAMUSCULAR DRY NEEDLING: Dry needling relieves muscle pain with the insertion of a needle into the skin at a myofascial trigger point. The myofascial trigger point is related to the production and
maintenance of the pain cycle. When punctured by the needle, the pain will subside.

SHOCKWAVE THERAPY: Shock wave treatment uses high-energy sound waves to trigger the body’s own repair mechanisms. This non-invasive form of therapy decreases lameness, pain, and inflammation
and encourages the healing of bones and cartilage. It will improve your pet’s quality of life through increased blood flow and a reduced need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Shock Wave Therapy
has even been used in human medicine for over 20 years.

UNDERWATER TREADMILL TRAINING: The buoyancy of walking in water limits the impact on the joints while promoting muscle strength and tone and joint motion. Even dogs that cannot stand on their
own on land, can usually stand in water. This therapy can be beneficial in rehabilitation of fractures, cruciate surgery, neurologic conditions including degenerative myelopathy and disc disease, tendinitis,
weight loss and other disorders where the pet is reluctant to use the limb or there is lack of strength.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Physical Therapy in veterinary medicine utilizes techniques to increase function and mobility of joints and muscles in animals. Animal rehabilitation can reduce pain and enhance
recovery from injury, surgery, degenerative diseases, age-related diseases, and obesity.

Now is the time to contact your veterinarian to see how they can help your cat or dog lead a better life with less pain. If you do not have a veterinarian that can help you out, you can search for a Pain
Practitioner near you through the International Veterinary of Pain Management. IVAPM is the leading forum and educational resource for veterinary professionals and pet owners interested in animal pain
prevention, management, and treatment. Visit IVAPM.ORG and click on the link at the top "Find an IVAPM Member" and you will be connected to a veterinarian that is dedicated to helping pets get pain

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