Humans and animals share similar mechanisms of pain detection, and are believed to have similar areas of the brain involved in processing it. The pain that your animals experience serve the same purposes as human pain to indicate that something is amiss and damage of some description is occurring. However, how animals and humans experience pain when responding to an identical stimulus may not be the same, depending on the species.
One of the main functions of pain in humans and animals alike is to act as an alarm system so that action can be taken to avoid or minimize injury as well as to warn against any possible damage. Known as nociception, this process involves nociceptors, also known as pain receptors that can detect changes above a set threshold. When this is stimulated, a nociceptor transmits a signal along the axon of nerves into the spinal cord and directly to the brain.
Pain In Animals
To provide you with an example, there is a myth that dogs don’t feel pain like humans do. This is due to their evolutionary origins as hunting predators. They have the instinct to hide pain from old age or injuries as the animal will be vulnerable to attack. They work to control their pain to protect themselves and their social standings in their pack. As a result, this makes it more difficult for you to recognize when your dogs or other animals are hurting.
Still, you can determine when your dog is experiencing pain. They:
- are quieter and less alert than normal
- will cry out with extreme pain
- may not wish to move about
- may lie still or assume an unusual body position
- may begin pacing
- begin panting, have shallow breathing, or shivering
- may stop eating
- may become more aggressive
Pain Relief In Animals Versus Humans
For your animal’s pain, veterinarians use the same analgesics and anesthetics as are used for humans and work in the same manner. Among these drugs are:
- Aspirin – puts a stop to the formation of prostaglandins
- Diazepam – produces deep sedation and moderate pain relief
- Diclofenac – used to treat arthritis in horses
- Fentanyl – provides a continuous patch-based delivery of pain relief for those with ongoing pain
- Gabapentin – treats neuropathic pain
- Midazolam – produces deep sedation and moderate pain relief
- Prednisolone and Prednisolone – broad range anti-inflammatories
- Tramadol – pain relief for your dogs and cats