Pain Relief and Management for pets in Stillwater, MN and Twin Cities

As a loving pet owner, the last thing you’d ever want is for your canine or feline companion to be in pain. Unfortunately, dogs and cats can suffer from many painful conditions. Accidental injuries, surgical incisions, degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis , autoimmune diseases, tick borne illnesses and aging can cause discomfort and pain. If you think your pet is in pain, it is important to understand that it is best to come in and talk with us. However, on this page, you’ll find our answers to some of the most common questions about dog pain management and how Rivertown Animal Hospital can help. 

What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

In veterinary medicine, we often categorize pain into two main types: acute and chronic, each with distinct characteristics and management approaches.

Acute pain typically presents as a sudden, sharp discomfort often arising from injuries or trauma. If your canine companion starts limping after an enthusiastic leap to catch a Frisbee or in hot pursuit of a squirrel, they are likely experiencing acute pain. The onset of acute pain is rapid and commonly associated with recent incidents. In many instances, we manage acute pain through strategies such as rest and the administration of anti-inflammatory medications, allowing the body to heal and recover without causing long-term issues.

Conversely, chronic pain is characterized by persistent discomfort and is often linked to ongoing conditions like arthritis. It tends to affect older dogs, and the pain is typically described as dull and achy rather than the sharp sensations seen in acute injuries. Addressing chronic pain is a complex challenge that necessitates a multifaceted approach. In most cases, our primary goal is to manage pain and reduce discomfort because many causes of chronic pain in pets are not curable. Our focus is on improving your pet’s quality of life by minimizing their discomfort and enhancing their overall well-being.

How quickly should I bring in my pet if I suspect they are in pain?

If you suspect your dog or cat may be in pain, acting promptly and seeking veterinary care without delay is crucial. Whether it’s for your canine or feline companion, consider visiting an emergency veterinarian rather than waiting for a scheduled appointment. Ignoring signs of pain is not advisable. The sooner you bring in your pet, the quicker we can identify the source of their discomfort and initiate the necessary steps for their recovery. Seeking timely treatment can also help us prevent the issue from progressing and ensure your furry friend’s well-being.

What are the signs that my pet is in pain?

The symptoms of pain can vary depending on their location and severity, but there are common signs that often indicate discomfort in both dogs and cats. These signs include:

For Dogs and Cats:

  1. Sudden aggression or biting
  2. Avoiding physical contact or not wanting to be touched
  3. Limping
  4. Reluctance to put weight on all four paws
  5. Difficulty standing up
  6. Refusal to jump, climb stairs, or get on furniture
  7. Hiding or withdrawing
  8. Reduced social interaction
  9. Excessive licking or chewing of a specific area
  10. Difficulty settling or finding a comfortable position
  11. Trembling or shivering
  12. Lethargy
  13. Vocalizing or crying out in pain
  14. Decreased appetite or refusal to eat

It’s important to remember that unusual behavior in your dog or cat may also indicate pain. As their caregiver, you know your furry companion best, and if something doesn’t seem right, it’s always advisable to schedule a comprehensive examination with us to ensure their well-being.

How do we help with pain relief and management?

Veterinarians have many more options available than eve  manage pain.  We are trained to recognize and treat pain using multimodal therapies that reduce the side-effects and risks to our patients.  Pain often goes unrecognized by our clients and it is therefore extremely important to have regular exams and evaluation with a veterinarian to see if your pet would benefit from therapy.  A helpful trick is to take videos of your pet moving around the house, going up and down stairs and jumping up onto the couch  prior to coming to your appointment.  This will help us recognize if your pet is experiencing discomfort in the back or joints.  Radiographs may be recommended to further diagnose your pet’s condition.

Traditional Oral Medication Therapy

There are several options available for managing chronic pain due to injury or arthritis.   We traditionally have had several medications available that work at different receptors to alleviate pain. While still widely used, some of these medications come with adverse side-effects. And in the case of cats, may be difficult to administer.  Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are commonly used for dogs and cats post operatively and for arthritis pain.  They can be highly effective in managing pain. Other medications often used for acute and chronic pain include Gabapentin, Amantadine.  For Acute postoperative pain and Opioids such as buprenorphine for cats and codeine for dogs are commonly prescribed. With all of these medications it is important that they are prescribed by your veterinarian.  Human over the counter medications must not be given to pets and may cause serious harm and even death.

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

Recently a new therapy has become available for both cats and dogs that is having a significant reduction in osteoarthritis pain and greatly enhanced the quality of life for our patients.  These are medications that work at a specific receptor in the pet’s joints that is causing pain due to osteoarthritis.  The treatment is a once monthly injection given by either the veterinarian or one of our experienced staff.  This therapy is safe, effective and hugely beneficial to our pets.  Please contact us if you are interested in knowing more about this revolutionary treatment for arthritis pain. 

[Link for Leventa for dog]

[Link for Solensia for cats]

Weight Management and Physical Therapy

Often the simplest things have the most profound results.  Many of our painful patients are severely overweight.  Excess weight can have profoundly damaging effects on joints leading to arthritis and chronic pain.  Our veterinarians can help you and your pet Implement a healthy weight loss program using a veterinary therapeutic diet.  This will greatly enhance quality and quantity of life. Along with weight loss, gradually increasing activity and in some cases working with a Veterinary Physical Therapist can be beneficial in managing chronic pain and speed up recovery following surgery or after an injury.  Effective pain management often requires a multimodal approach that incorporates medication, nutrition, weight loss and physical therapy. In addition to the traditional approach to managing pain Rivertown Animal Hospital provides  two other highly effective modalities to help your pet return to health and physical function faster. These are Cold Laser Therapy, also known as Photobiomodulation and Veterinary Chiropractic Therapy.  

Cold Laser Therapy Provides Pain Relief and Speeds Healing

Cold laser or photobiomodulation is a non-invasive, drug-free option using light energy directed at the site of pain and inflammation. Patients often see immediate relief to their painful condition with lasting benefits, including reduced inflammation and healing at the cellular level. This therapy is used to treat many common acute and chronic conditions, including post-surgical pain, dental pain, injuries, wounds, abscesses, fractures, sprains, abdominal pain, arthritis, dermatitis, inflamed ears, and back and neck pain.

Watch this video to learn more about Cold Laser Therapy »

Chiropractic Care

Enhance the quality of your pet's life

Rivertown Animal Hospital is pleased to offer veterinary chiropractic care to patients, provided at our facility by Dr. Mark LaVallie of Peak Performance Chiropractic.

Animal chiropractic offers a safe, non-surgical, drug-free option to help
correct joint, disc and other soft-tissue disorders. Animal chiropractic focuses on the restoration of mobility and restoration of normal neurological patterns that facilitate healing and reduce pain.

If you are interested in chiropractic care for your dog or cat at Rivertown
Animal Hospital:

  • Schedule an exam with one of our veterinarians to establish a
    diagnosis and make recommendations for therapy as required by the State of Minnesota
  • The veterinarian will make a referral for chiropractic care if
  • Our staff will schedule an appointment with Dr. LaVallie

Due to the high demand for chiropractic services at Rivertown, we are not able to take referrals from other veterinarians for chiropractic care at our facility.

Signs and conditions your pet may benefit from chiropractic care include:

  • Weakness, dragging rear feet, trouble getting up, abnormal gait,
    hunched back, difficulty climbing stairs or signs of pain, such as
    limping and yelping
  • Acute and chronic back and neck pain
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Neurologic disorders, including vestibular disease and intervertebral disc disease
  • Following an injury
  • Post-surgical recovery
More on Veterinary Chiropractic

Dr. Mark LaVallie

Dr. Mark LaVallie loves animals and is enthusiastic about providing safe and effective chiropractic care to the patients of Rivertown Animal Hospital.

Dr. Mark LaVallie is a graduate of Northwestern College of Chiropractic, practicing human chiropractic since 1981. He completed his Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (VSMT ) certification in 2009, and started Peak Performance Animal Chiropractic. He continues to provide chiropractic services to humans as well as animals. 

Dr. LaVallie joined our team in 2020 and spends one half-day weekly devoted to the care of Rivertown patients. His skills are a tremendous asset to the health and well-being of those in his care.

“We love everyone at this clinic! The support staff, the vets, everyone is wonderful, caring and professional. Lately, we have been taking our near 15 year old Big Dog to see Dr. Mark for chiro care. It has been absolutely life changing for him and brought back his bouncy nature and stability in his hips! “

Kaeleya Rayne