Pain states can be learned by the body, i.e. repeatedly occurring pain leads to more intense and longer pain sensation, as the pain threshold is lowered. Therefore, early and sufficient pain relief with medication is important.
The aim of drug therapy:
- Relief of pain
- Improving the quality of life of animals and their owners
- Avoidance of further damage
A distinction is made in pain management:
Analgesics = substances that suppress the sensation of pain
Anti-inflammatory drugs = medicines to alleviate, eliminate or suppress inflammatory reactions
Differences in the use of medicines in humans and animals
Because pain and inflammation inhibiting drugs are so frequently used in humans, they can be found in practically every household. Thus the temptation for the animal owner is often large to help its animal with pain fast even from the house pharmacy. But caution, our four-legged friends are not small humans!
Even the well-meant infant dosage can have therefore bad consequences.
All medicines must – comparable with food – be crushed, diminished, metabolized in the body. Only in this way can they be excreted again after they have done their job. If this does not happen, they accumulate in the body, can unfold all their side effects freely and cause massive damage and poisoning. Certain metabolic pathways and enzymes are necessary for degradation and excretion, but not every animal species have them or their activity can be very different.
For example, medications that provide excellent help in humans can be absolutely contraindicated in animals and, in the worst case, lead to permanent damage or even death. Even between dog and cat, there are serious differences. For example, the cat lacks the possibility of glucuronidation (a metabolic pathway that takes place in the liver). Drugs or substances excreted via this metabolic pathway can be fatal for the cat, e.g. paracetamol, tea tree oil.
The most common painkillers that are approved for humans such as Aspirin, Diclofenac, Indometacin are able to destroy the healthy articular cartilage of our four-legged friend!
The effect of medication depends on properties such as absorption, distribution, and binding in the body depending on the degradation and excretion. Here, too, there are major differences between animal species and humans. These differences have an influence on the dosage of a medicine, how often it has to be taken per day, on the type of side effects and tolerance, etc. In addition to animal species differences, the age of the animal, its sex and its state of health (especially liver and kidney diseases) also play a decisive role within an animal species. It is also important not to forget to consider interactions with other medicines and contraindications (e.g. other diseases, pregnancy).
You can see how complicated the effective use of drugs is and how much specialist knowledge and experience it requires. Therefore, please do not treat your animal lightly yourself, but let your veterinarian make a concrete diagnosis according to which he can then draw up a meaningful and suitable therapy plan for your animal.