sealPurdue News

January 28, 2003

Pet owners part of pain management plan

Pet owners are a crucial component in their pets' pain management, says a veterinary anesthesiologist at Purdue University.

"Pain management is more challenging in animals because pets cannot verbalize how bad they feel," says Ann Weil, clinical assistant professor in Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine. "The owner is a valuable part of the team in detecting pain in their animal, because their observations can be key. They know their pet best and can first observe behavior changes such as eating or withdrawal from normal activities."

Cancer and arthritis are the most common causes for chronic pain in pets.

"It's fairly easy to overlook pain in pets, some pets have evolved to not express their pain symptoms because they are prey species," Weil says. "But that is no excuse to ignore pain management in animals."

Weil says there are more resources available in pain management with drug development, as well as other options such as physical therapy and non-traditional methods.

"Pain management awareness in pets has grown, and there is a growing need for pet anesthesiologists in the private sector," Weil said.

Most of the nation's board-certified pet anesthesiologists in veterinary medicine can be found at university settings.

"There are still people who think animals can't experience pain," Weil said. "Pet owners should be aware of pain management and feel comfortable asking their veterinarian about pain."

CONTACT: Ann Weil, (765) 496-6430,