As people are prone to body aches and joint pains, pets often experience soreness and stiffness as they grow old, and begin to suffer from degenerative joint conditions. Osteoarthritis is especially common. However, such a wide variety of pain management options are available for your aching pet that you’re sure to find a method that works well at controlling their discomfort. The following list includes some of the most common alternative pain management therapies, and those that we offer at Loving Family Animal Hospital

#1: Laser therapy

Therapeutic lasers come in several classes, and higher energy doses are paired with higher numbers. For example, the laser we use is a Class IV laser, which is the standard in most laser-dedicated neuropathy and pain clinics. The higher energy dosages associated with a Class IV laser over Classes I through III provide better, faster, and more consistent results. Also referred to as cold laser therapy, therapeutic lasers differ from cutting surgical lasers, and are used to promote healing. They provide many biological effects, including:

  • Increased cell growth — Laser photons accelerate cellular reproduction and growth
  • Increased metabolic activity —  Laser therapy stimulates the production of food sources for the cells, and increases available oxygen necessary for healing damaged tissue
  • Faster wound healing — Laser photons encourage fibroblast development to help heal damaged tissue
  • Anti-inflammatory action — Laser therapy reduces swelling, such as that caused by joint inflammation, resulting in enhanced joint mobility
  • Increased vascular activity — Therapeutic lasers dilate blood vessels, allowing for increased blood flow to affected areas
  • Reduced fibrous tissue formation — Laser photons reduce scar tissue formation from cuts, scratches, burns, and surgery
  • Stimulated nerve function — Laser therapy speeds the process of nerve cell reconnection

Cold laser therapy is a relatively new technology compared with many alternative therapies—acupuncture has been used since 8000 to 3500 B.C., chiropractic since 1895, and physical therapy has been around for a long time—but the therapy is rapidly gaining in popularity. As a non-invasive, drug-free, surgery-free, and easy-to-use treatment modality, laser therapy is an excellent pain management option for pets. 

#2: Physical therapy

We are proud to partner with Mamie Whitman, the owner of Dog Rehab Works, a mobile canine physical therapy service in the Denver area. Like human physical therapy, canine physical therapy is used to maintain, restore, and improve movement and activity, promoting optimal functioning and quality of life. Some conditions and diseases that benefit from physical therapy include:

  • Ligament sprains
  • Muscle strains
  • Fractures
  • Tendonitis
  • Elbow or hip dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Arthritis
  • Post-surgical repairs
  • Aging/senior dog mobility issues
  • Core strengthening
  • Weight loss
  • Neurologic impairments
  • Fibrocartilaginous embolism 
  • Intervertebral disc disease 
  • Weakness and paralysis
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Vestibular problems
  • Wobbler syndrome
  • Wounds

By implementing a range of motion exercises, stretching, therapeutic massage, heat and cold therapy, soft tissue and joint mobilization, and many other physical therapy techniques, your furry pal can move with comfort again.

#3: Supplements

The supplement market is booming, especially in the pet industry, and you may be overwhelmed with the options that all claim to ease your pet’s aches and pains. However, supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may not always come from reputable sources. Before loading up your sore pet with joint supplements, talk to our team. We can guide you on choosing a research-backed product that contains the ingredients it claims.  

Joint supplements contain a vast array of anti-inflammatory ingredients designed to soothe joint pain, promote cartilage health, and increase mobility. A few top joint supplement ingredients include:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin — Glucosamine helps to support joint repair, while chondroitin works to support the elasticity and thickness of joint cartilage.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) — MSM is a sulfur compound that acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, to help the body repair cartilage.
  • Hyaluronic acid — Hyaluronic acid is the primary component of the synovial fluid that cushions and lubricates the joints.
  • Fish oil — High in omega-3 fatty acids, which create important hormones that regulate blood flow and inflammation, fish oil supports heart health, promotes a silky coat, reduces itchy and flaky skin, and can help relieve allergies and joint pain
  • Green-lipped mussel — The green-lipped mussel contains eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosahexaenoic (DHA), and eicosatetraenoic (ETA) acids. EPA, DHA, and ETA are omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. The green-lipped mussel is also a great source of chondroitin.

Although we can’t feasibly offer the entire spectrum of alternative pain management therapies for your pet, we proudly offer a plan that includes diverse treatments, to ensure your beloved companion is more comfortable and experiences a higher quality of life. If your best friend is uncomfortable and painful, contact us for a pain assessment and management consultation.