cancer in your petA diagnosis of cancer carries many scary things with it, including the likelihood that your pet is in pain. Your veterinarian in Philadelphia will work with you to create a pain management plan to keep your pet comfortable during treatment. Here are some pointers to keep in mind as you discuss this plan with your veterinarian.

Ask these questions when beginning a long-term pain management plan for your pet:

  • What possible side effects might I notice that are related to the pain managment my pet is receiving?
  • Could the various medications my pet will be receiving interact in a way that causes side effects or changes the way the drugs work?
  • How often will my pet need to be reassessed for pain?
  • Should I change how my pet plays with other pets in my household?
  • Is there anything I can do at home to enhance the pain management plan we are putting in place?
  • Is there anything I can do at home on my own if I notice my pet having a “bad” day with increased pain?
  • Is there any way to perform pain assessments at home where my pet is most comfortable?

You can help monitor how effective the pain management plan is at home by keeping a log of your pet’s activities. This will help you notice trends as well as daily ups and downs. Activities to track include:

  • Appetite/meals/interest in eating
  • Interest in walking
  • Length of walks
  • Interactions with people in the household
  • Interactions with other animals in the household
  • Difficulty getting up and down
  • Reluctance with stairs
  • Reluctance to get into and out of the car 
  • Sleep habits such as when your pet goes to bed, when it gets up in the morning, the quality of sleep and restlessness during the night or while napping. 

A quality of life scale involving giving your pet a score between 0 and 10 (where 10 is the very best, and 0 is the very worst) in seven different categories. These seven categories are:

  • Hurt
  • Hunger
  • Hydration
  • Hygiene
  • Happiness
  • Mobility
  • More good days than bad 

A total score of 35 or less, or a score of 5 or less in any single category is a red flag that you need to talk with your veterinarian to uncover ways to improve the score or consider if it might be time to start making a more difficult decision because the pain is no longer manageable.