Bristol Vet Specialists provide a chronic pain clinic for cats and dogs in the South West

13th Nov, 2023

Bristol Vet Specialists (formerly known as Highcroft Veterinary Specialists) is providing a new chronic pain clinic for cats and dogs in the South West of England who may need specialist treatment.

Chronic pain, particularly pain caused by Osteoarthritis, is extremely common in cats and dogs. Even young dogs (less than 4 years of age) commonly show radiographic and clinical signs of Osteoarthritis, and this prevalence Osteoarthritis is likely to increase in the aging population. It is recommended to screen cats older than 7 years of age for signs of Osteoarthritis because of its frequency in this age group. Although less well defined, other causes of chronic pain in cats and dogs include some types of cancer, dental and ear diseases, spinal disease and specific syndromes such as Feline Hyperaesthesia Syndrome.

Managing chronic pain in cats and dogs can be challenging, particularly because in most cases, chronic pain is a lifelong condition that requires daily management. Although analgesic (pain killing) drugs form the mainstay of treatment, owners can do a lot to improve some chronic pain conditions such as Osteoarthritis. This includes environmental modifications such as non slip flooring or mats for dogs with Osteoarthritis or ramps to help dogs get into cars. For cats, ramps to help cats reach high places can be really valuable and improve a cat’s quality of life.

Cats and dogs coming to the BVS clinic will receive the highest level of care with a specialist assessment by one its highly trained veterinary anaesthetists and pain specialist, Jo Murrell. Jo also works closely with the orthopeadic and neurology services to ensure that a global and holistic approach to chronic pain conditions is adopted. This will identify signs of chronic pain, assess the severity, and also evaluate the impact of the condition on the animal’s quality of life. It is important to identify these conditions as early as possible, as instigating pain management early helps to dampen down pain signals and reduce overall upregulation of the pain pathways. Jo uses validated clinical metrology instruments (owner questionnaires) to measure the severity of pain, especially during initial appointments.

BVS has one of the largest and most advanced Anaesthesia and Analgesia departments in a private hospital for small animals in the South West of England. Should a condition be detected, Jo and her team will be able to offer pharmacotherapy (drug treatments), intra-articular and epidural injections and acupuncture treatments. Jo also works closely with physiotherapists and hydrotherapy services so that these treatments can be used as adjunctive therapy where appropriate.

Jo Murrell, Specialist in Anaesthesia and Analgesia at BVS said, said:

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“Many cats and dogs will experience chronic pain. These cases need to be thoroughly investigated to ensure that the cause of pain is properly identified and treatment quickly provided. We are very pleased to be able to open our new chronic pain clinic for cat and dog owners in the South West today to provide this essential service.”

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For further information about Bristol Veterinary Specialists, please visit the BVS website.