Hi Dr Barchas,
I want to know the best
way to neuter my new puppy. I heard
a radio show that recommended that
three types of pain control be used (anti-inflamatory med, opioids and lidocaine) besides anesthesia. What is your opinion?
Thank you for a good question. Pain control is a very important aspect of surgery, and it is one that is sometimes overlooked in veterinary medicine.
In the past, animal pain was systematically under treated or ignored, because pets can’t tell people that they are in pain. Incredibly, some vets even argued that post-operative pain was good for animals! Their reasoning (faulty reasoning, in my mind) was that pain caused pets to lie still and not lick or damage surgical sites.
Fortunately, that type of thinking is almost non-existent now. Pain is bad, no matter how you look at it. Aggressively addressing post-operative pain leads to a much more pleasant experience for pets and owners. It also leads to faster surgical recoveries, decreased post-operative complications, and a speedier resumption of normal activities.
As you suggest, a combination of multiple pain medicines leads to the best pain control. The medicines chosen depend on the intensity of pain that is expected following surgery, as well as the animal’s age, breed, and health status.
All of the painkillers that you listed are used commonly. Opiods are medicines related to morphine. Usually they are administered by injection just prior to surgery. As well, they may be prescribed for use at home during recovery.
Anti-inflammatory medications are related to aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil). These usually are administered both in the hospital and at home after surgery.
Lidocaine and related medications numb the surgical area. These types of medicines are very useful for certain types of procedures, but are not often used for neuters.
Remember that you should never administer any medications, especially those intended for humans, to your pet without first discussing the matter with your vet.
Any time your pet undergoes surgery, dental work, or any procedure that may be painful, be sure to discuss pain control with your vet. Good vets care a lot about pain, and they will be happy to work with you to ensure that your pet has the best possible experience.