Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The research literature is quite clear in showing that pain, especially if it is experienced over a long duration of time, can actually be hazardous to a dog's health. The reason is that pain is a stressor, and in response to stress the body begins to release a set of stress-related hormones. These affect virtually every system in the body, altering the rate of metabolism, causing neurological responses, causing the heart, thymus glands, adrenal glands and the immune system to go into a high state of activity. If this situation continues long enough these organs may actually become dysfunctional.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary School studied the effects of controlling or managing pain from injuries, illness and surgical procedures in dogs. They concluded that the "benefits include improved respiratory functions, decreasing stress responses surrounding surgery, decreased length of hospitalization, faster recovery to normal mobility, improved rates of healing and even a decreased likelihood of infection after surgery. Almost all studies show people and animals return to normal eating and drinking habits sooner when given relief from pain."
The researchers sum up their results by suggesting that the prevention, early recognition and aggressive management of pain and anxiety should be essential to the veterinary care of dogs. They warn us that it is important to be sensitive to the subtle signs of pain in our pets, because the treatment of pain itself can be healing by reducing the stress that can prolong recovery."
By Stanley Coren, Ph.D./ Psychology Today/read more