Dear Reader

It is always a great privilege to compile each issue of the VNJ – a combination of relief as the pages fill, and wonderment as the copy comes together to define the unique character and style of each successive edition.

The ‘Dear Reader’ column is invariably the final piece of the jigsaw to slot into place. Sometimes this is because inspiration is not immediately to hand, and at other times it is a deliberate ploy in order to take account of all the articles and features in the final layout. Such was the case this month. In the final analysis, it was actually a news item that caught the eye.

In a survey of over 1,000 dog owners (p 329) in which their perceptions of pain in their pets – especially that associated with chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis – were assessed, it emerged that they were not as proficient at identifying or quantifying levels of pain as we might imagine.

And many of them had irrational reservations about the safety of pain- relieving medication in general and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) in particular. These fears were sometimes enhanced and reinforced by consultation of the internet.

One of the great strides in veterinary nursing over the past two decades has been the recognition of the need for analgesia in the postoperative care of even the most straightforward surgical cases. The arrival of NSAIDs has revolutionised the management of musculoskeletal disorders, especially arthritis, in which their timely and appropriate administration can break the pain cycle and restore normal function safely and swiftly.

But owner compliance in these cases is essential and it is a travesty of animal welfare and well-being if some pets are being denied the pain relief they deserve simply through the misplaced fears of their owners.

Almost three-quarters of the dog owners questioned selected the word ‘devastated’ to describe what their feelings would be if their pet were to be diagnosed with a potentially painful long-term illness; and 95 per cent of them wanted treatment to be started for osteoarthritis as soon as the signs appeared – provided that they could be confident that side effects would be minimal.

It would appear then that what we, as well-informed nurses, take for granted about pain-relieving medication in these instances, is not always the perception of our clients; and that a few extra words of explanation and reassurance at the time of patient discharge could make a world of difference to the long-term well-being of the pet.


David Watson BVetMed MA MRCVS 


To cite this editorial use either

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2011.00079,x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 26 pp 294

• VOL 26 • September 2011 • Veterinary Nursing Journal