If your veterinarian has used all the tools at her disposal to give your dog relief from pain but your pet is still in significant discomfort, you may want to seek the services of a veterinarian who specializes in pain management. There still is no board certification for vets wanting to provide relief from pain. But more and more veterinarians are becoming trained in pain mitigation, with a number of them receiving certification from the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, which offers its own certification for vets and other veterinary healthcare professionals. Requirements include having worked with animals in pain for at least two years, continuing education hours, case studies, and a written exam.
The academy’s website offers advice for recognizing pain in animals along with a map that gives the names and locations around the country (and the world) of those who have been trained and certified to treat animals in pain. Go to ivapm.org.
Recognition of pain in dogs and other animals and resources for owners to help their pets with pain are improving all the time. Pain centers are becoming more and more common, and the American Animal Hospital Association just last year released new guidelines for managing pain in dogs (and cats). “Pain Management is central to veterinary practice,” the guidelines say. “A team-oriented approach, including the owner, is essential for maximizing the recognition, prevention, and treatment of pain in animals.”
Degenerative joint disease (arthritis) is one of the most significant and under-diagnosed diseases of dogs, the guidelines make clear. That’s academic speak for the fact that the single biggest cause of pain in dogs is arthritis, and the reason most owners take their pets to veterinarians for pain relief. If your dog suffers from arthritis (or any other pain condition), there is now a protocol in place that includes both pharmacologic and lifestyle steps for bringing an animal back to a place of physical comfort.