Alleviating and managing pain in animals is focus of new guidebook

July 02, 2000

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Dogs whine or whimper and may become timid or aggressive. Cats may purr or growl and hide. Responses vary, but certain behaviors tell when an animal is in pain. Managing and alleviating pain is the focus of a new guidebook written by small animal specialists at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

"This book is targeted toward advancing pain recognition and guiding practitioners on various management techniques and concepts," said lead author William J. Tranquilli, a veterinarian and professor of veterinary clinical medicine. "This kind of knowledge is the key to improving patient care in instances where acute and chronic pain syndromes are present."

Considerable advances in veterinary medicine mean that owners have the opportunity to pursue treatment for a wide variety of disease conditions affecting their pets, Tranquilli said. "In light of this, the pet owner and veterinary practitioner must share a common goal: to provide compassionate care for pets during hospital stays and at home. The incorporation of pain-management strategies is central to this philosophy and helps to ease the concern of the owner."

The 125-page guidebook, "Pain Management for the Small Animal Practitioner," was co-written by Tranquilli and colleagues Kurt A. Grimm and Leigh A. Lamont, who are residents of the UI veterinary anesthesiology program. The book is part of the "Made Easy Series" published by Teton NewMedia for veterinarians. The authors drew on their experiences and research during a decade in which pain management has emerged as a key issue in veterinary medicine. They cover strategies for treating and managing pain in companion animals, including step-by-step procedural instructions for practitioners. The authors provide detailed protocols that range from simple pain recognition to philosophies of providing relief to what to do in trauma cases, various surgeries and on-going chronic-pain situations.

The drugs used in pain-management strategies are defined and placed into appropriate contexts. Warning notes -- denoted by easily visible bomb symbols like those that appear when a computer crashes -- tell how a drug may be dangerous if overused, misused or combined with other medications. A lot of attention is paid to the use of pre-emptive analgesic drug administration to decrease the intensity and duration of post-procedure pain and lessen the possibility of triggering severe pain.

"The principles of pre-emptive and multi-modal analgesia have gained wide acceptance among responsible physicians charged with the responsibility of treating pain in humans," Tranquilli said. "These techniques appear to be equally valuable in the management of pain in companion animals."
A separate CD-ROM includes all of the material in the book as well as 11 videos that demonstrate analgesic techniques. More information is on the Web at

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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