The robust advances in pain management for companion animals underlie the decision of AAHA and AAFP to expand on the information provided in the 2007 AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. The 2015 guidelines summarize and offer a discriminating review of much of this new knowledge. Pain management is central to veterinary practice, alleviating pain, improving patient outcomes, and enhancing both quality of life and the veterinarian-client-patient relationship. The management of pain requires a continuum of care that includes anticipation, early intervention, and evaluation of response on an individual-patient basis. The guidelines include both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic modalities to manage pain; they are evidence-based insofar as possible and otherwise represent a consensus of expert opinion. Behavioral changes are currently the principal indicator of pain and its course of improvement or progression, and the basis for recently validated pain scores. A team-oriented approach, including the owner, is essential for maximizing the recognition, prevention, and treatment of pain in animals. Postsurgical pain is eminently predictable but a strong body of evidence exists supporting strategies to mitigate adaptive as well as maladaptive forms. Degenerative joint disease is one of the most significant and under-diagnosed diseases of cats and dogs. Degenerative joint disease is ubiquitous, found in pets of all ages, and inevitably progresses over time; evidence-based strategies for management are established in dogs, and emerging in cats. These guidelines support veterinarians in incorporating pain management into practice, improving patient care.

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