Chronic pain in pets can make a caring pet owner feel helpless. Seeing your furry family member regularly in pain can be heart wrenching. Not knowing how to help can seem paralyzing, but there are ways you can minimize this discomfort. With the right tools and resources, you can help your pet deal with pain and finally find some relief.

Chronic Pain in Pets

Unfortunately, our pets can’t exactly tell us when they are experiencing regular pain. The first step to getting your pet help for chronic pain is to recognize it. Often pets who are experiencing acute (short) pain will be more vocal, limp, or move stiffly. Pets experiencing chronic pain might try to hide their discomfort, however. It is up to you (with help from your veterinarian) to notice the symptoms of long-term pain. Some of the most common signs of chronic pain include:

  • Changes to eating or drinking behaviors
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased isolation
  • Decreased walking distance
  • Inability to jump on the bed or couch
  • Disinterest in toys or playing
  • Difficulty with stairs 

If you think your pet is experiencing chronic pain, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to discuss possible causes and pain management options. Oftentimes a multi-modal approach is the best way to decrease pain and increase quality of life.

Pain Management Options

Modern veterinary medicine is constantly improving pain management options. Treatment can incorporate one treatment option or a multi-modal approach. With the right mix of modalities, your pet can definitely experience less pain. Options like medication, laser therapy, hydrotherapy, physical rehabilitation, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care have proven very effective for pain. Each pain management therapy has its own benefits that can help your pet return to her usual carefree self.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is a safe pain management tool that can give your pet instant relief. Lasers encourage blood to move to a certain area, which can facilitate healing and minimize discomfort. They also can reduce swelling, numb painful nerves, and reduce bacterial growth and minimize infections. Laser therapy is a pain-free treatment option that can target many different physical issues.


Hydrotherapy uses an underwater treadmill to reduce weight on joints, increase circulation, and provide resistance to build muscle. The warm water also increases muscle elasticity. Pets seem to enjoy the treadmill and it is a wonderful treatment option for many injuries and physical issues.

Shockwave Therapy

With shockwave therapy, rapid, high-energy sound waves increase your pet’s circulation and stimulate new cell growth. They also reduce swelling and inflammation, allowing your pet’s body to heal faster. 

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Sound waves gently massage your pet’s muscles and tendons, softening scar tissue and increasing flexibility. Ultrasound increases blood flow to reduce swelling and speed healing.

Electrical Stimulation

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation is especially good for pets who are paralyzed or having difficulty walking due to spinal cord injuries or loss of muscle. 

Physical Rehabilitation

Sometimes chronic pain is the result of an injury. Physical rehabilitation can help your pet heal properly to get rid of this discomfort. Physical rehabilitation can also help with age-related conditions like osteoarthritis and generally improve range of motion.


Massage works with many other modalities to ease pain, release toxins, increase circulation and increase range of motion. 


Acupuncture has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years and still effectively treats many issues, including chronic pain in pets. Using needles to target specific pressure points, acupuncturists can stimulate nerves, increase blood flow, relieve muscle spasms, and decrease pain. 

Chiropractic Care

This manual therapy focuses on the musculoskeletal problems that can create pain for pets. When used in conjunction with other veterinary care, it can help ease stiffness, tensions, and chronic pain. 

At Union Lake Veterinary Hospital, we want to do everything we can to help your relieve chronic pain in pets and help them find relief. In addition to these pain management therapies, we also offer heat therapy, cryotherapy, weight management, and more. We believe in using a multi-modal approach to target pain at its source. To learn more about these or other veterinary services, please call (248) 363-1508.