Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 16, 2017

Something for the pain, please!

Posted at 04:52PM - Comments: (36)

A couple of weeks ago, I rented a room in the house where I have my office (editorial office of WDJ) to a super nice 19-year-old guy who has an adorable, three-year-old mixed-breed dog, MJ. You’ll start seeing her picture in WDJ; we always need new models! But one of the deals I made with MJ’s owner was that MJ would get spayed. He said he had been meaning to get it done – especially after MJ had an accidental litter of puppies last summer – but as a full-time student who works, he had lacked the time and means . . . the surgery hadn’t risen to the top of his priority list yet.

I really like this young man and I really like his dog. I donate money to my own local shelter and foster puppies for them frequently. It was a no-brainer to offer to pay for MJ to get spayed.

As it worked out, my tenant was working at a summer camp during the first two weeks of his residency; I offered to dog-sit MJ during those weeks, and get her spayed at that time. He was happy with the arrangement, and will return the favor in a few weeks by dog-sitting Woody for me when I need some help.

At the veterinary clinic, I was asked whether I wanted to pay extra for pre-surgical blood work for MJ, and whether I wanted to pay extra for a “pain pack.” I declined the blood test; she’s a young, very apparently healthy dog. I did ask for a heartworm test, however; my tenant admitted that there have been some lapses in her prevention medication. (Fortunately, she turned out to be negative for heartworm, and I purchased a year’s worth of preventive medication for her, too.)

I said yes to the “pain pack.” I think that whatever is available for pain should be administered to any dog undergoing spay or neuter surgery. It actually really surprised me that any sort of pain medication would be considered optional! At my local shelter, all the dogs who are spayed receive an injection of meloxicam, which gives them 24 hours of pain relief post-surgery.

When I picked up MJ after her surgery and not long before the clinic closed for the day, she was still pretty dopey. I was given five carprofen tablets, and told to give her one a day for five days, starting as soon as I got home.

I did give MJ a carprofen tablet when we got home, and understood it would take a while to kick in, but she seemed to be in so much discomfort, it made me physically uncomfortable. I’ve watched spay surgeries before; they are not a small undertaking! I felt really bad for her. I even carried her up and down the stairs a few times that evening when she indicated she had to go outside and pee; she would stand at the top (and then the bottom) of the stairs but was clearly reluctant to attempt negotiating them herself.

The next morning, after the carprofen had taken effect, she was more comfortable, but still seemed like she was in more pain than other dogs I’ve fostered post-surgery. I called the clinic to ask whether the “pain pack” I paid for included an injection of pain medication. The receptionist put me on hold so she could check MJ’s file . . . but then sort of waffled. “We sent you home with medication to give her for pain; are you giving her that medication?”

“Yes, of course,” I said. “But did she also receive an injection of pain medication?”

Finally, the answer I got was that they “usually” do, but for some reason they hadn’t! Oh, the poor girl! No wonder she was so sore.

Fortunately, the rest of her recovery was smooth. By the next day, she was able to negotiate the stairs (albeit slowly) and by day five, I was having to keep her and Woody separated so they wouldn’t play. Her incision looks neat and healed nicely, and I’m glad to know there are no more accidental puppies in her future, wherever that finds her and her young owner.

I understand that the use of analgesics following spay/neuter surgery was uncommon decades ago, but in recent years, I thought their use is considered standard procedure. What is your experience? Does this differ in different parts of the country?

Comments (36)

I have a 4 pound Chihuahua who has a very high threshold for pain. As a matter of fact I have a drawer full of pain medication that has been given to me after many teeth cleanings and extractions, anal gland removal, patella surgery and a wasp sting. He rarely needs pain medication and I almost told the vet today that she need not give me any pain medication based on his history. However, today I am happy that she did. For the first time after surgery he is feeling pain and is uncomfortable. I just gave him his first dose of medication tonight even though the vet said not to give it until the morning after the surgery. He is uncomfortable and whimpering so I know he needs it. Moral of the story? Even if you donít think youíre going to need it, you never really know until the time comes. Take it just in case. Your pet is worth it.

Posted by: Julesstutt | January 12, 2018 2:23 PM    Report this comment

If they consider meds for pain an optional add-on, I would not be allowing the practice to take care of my pup. Seems like they are trying to get away with what they can because our pups can not speak and are dependent on our complaining.

Our vet was one of the few, if the only one, in our area that did laproscopic spays. When I educated myself about the differences, there was no way I would go the traditional route which would involve more pain.

Posted by: robin r | August 20, 2017 9:22 PM    Report this comment

I always ask if the pain injection is included and ask for meds afterwards, just in case.
I've learned that each Vet does aftercare differently. So until I am an established client, I always ask. Vets and the Techs are so busy on surgery days...oversights happen.

Posted by: jusu150 | August 20, 2017 7:19 PM    Report this comment

Is this the same vet who did the horrible euthanasia of the cat & dog? If so why would you ever trust that they would take measures to relieve the suffering of any animal?
Over the years my husband and I have had numerous horses, dogs and cats euthanized and not one appeared to suffer the least bit of discomfort. They all went so peacefully. I couldn't imagine seeing them suffer needlessly. Our vet is wonderful and recently, when I asked if my Cairn terriers were going to be given pain medication prior to spay and dental..the response was "Of course, it's standard procedure". It was very apparent that they were comfortable after surgery...enough so that they could jump up on the couch before we could stop them!
This is the same vet who compassionately saw us through the euthanasia of 5 of our old Labrador Retrievers. We're so blessed to have an excellent vet clinic with 24 hour emergency care available, 20 minutes from home..an animal hospital with the specialists and equipment to tackle any emergency! When we've needed emergency care all we had to do was call ahead as we drove there and the animal hospital was waiting and ready to take care of our pets! We also have had old and/or sick horses euthanized by caring, compassionate vets with absolutely no issues!

Posted by: Cairn mom | August 20, 2017 2:11 PM    Report this comment

I am now 63, and have had 4 dogs, and roughly the same number of cats, horses, ducks, chickens, etc. since I was about 30. Due to geographical moves, I have had many vets; although there were two serious mistakes caused by two separate vets, the vast majority have been unusually kind and compassionate humans. It is virtually inconceivable that anyone would deny a sentient being pain relief.......maybe a new vet is in order?

On a completely different topic, my neighbor's often unemployed son has been staying with her for the past 6 months. He has a charming chiweenie who is a little over 1 year old. He has habitually escaped the yard, being found as far as 2 miles away, probably looking for the opportunity to breed. I offered to pay the total cost of his neutering, to spare us all the heartbreak of the virtually inevitable death or maiming by car. However, he has refused, not because of pride, or any ordinary motive, but because of some archaic belief that his male dog will be "less of a man"! I have even neutered a stallion who I got at age 3, after breeding for 4 years, at age 7, and the only change in his personality was that he was a little less spooky. As an arab/pinto he was always spookier than, say a quarterhorse. But even as a green 3 year old he was better on trails than most horses that I have ridden. Altering animals does not change their personality. It just removes an unrelenting drive to reproduce, regardless of the dangers of traffic, unsafe fences or obstacles, and in many parts of the west, no access to water.

Posted by: hilfri | August 20, 2017 12:54 PM    Report this comment

Dropped 6 month Max Thursday. Neutered 1 pm plus had rear dew claws removed. Came home Friday with antibiotics and Anti-infl inflammatory meds. Dr. Assistant said keep leg wrap dry. I leave. At home, Max quickly pulled out metal stitches on testicles. Called the vet. "You need a cone." I asked if they could trim metal that were sticking him, they did. . I went home. Cone they "sold me for ten dollars" was not right size. Max pulled more metal stitches. Went back Sat. Find that my vet left for 2 weeks. I inquired why he had no pain meds. Told them I had Tramadol. VA said okay to use. The vet assistant made a cone. Max was insane with it it. Monday went back to see fill-in vet. She gave another week of antibiotics. She took away metal and put glue. Now the groin problem was solved. Max now wanted the leg wraps off. Now to Friday. Vet removes leg wrap from dew claw removal. One is open and bleeding. She glued it. The other looked good and I could see the nylon stitches. She sent him home. The glued area opened up and bled on the way home. I used the 3" bandaids and covered them. since Friday Max doesn't lick at the bandages on his hind legs. I see no bleeding. When he sniffs at the bandages, I show him the cone. He is only six months old. I would firstly never do it that young again, and secondly never two surgeries at one time! I should have asked more questions, especially about the pain meds and the cone. I had ALL blood work done with no response! Just wait until my vet gets back!

Posted by: Jzeeb | August 20, 2017 11:54 AM    Report this comment

Optional pain meds is a horrifying idea to me, particularly for spays. I have never heard of this. We have discussed pain management strategies, but not whether or not to have pain medicine. Poor little dog! I've lived in Minnesota, Minnesota and Washington DC. Poor animals!

Posted by: lclass003 | August 20, 2017 10:48 AM    Report this comment

My Border Collie Ben recently passed from Hemangio Sarcoma......They took out his entire spleen! I asked for pain meds and was told dogs do not need pain meds!!! I will NEVER return to that specialty Vet clinic and will NEVER refer anyone there! It made me sick!! My regular vet helped us! He only lived 19 days after the surgery!!

Posted by: bonandal | August 20, 2017 10:26 AM    Report this comment

My newly-adopted adult dog was recently spayed. My veterinarian was very aware and careful regarding the major surgery an adult dog spay is (imagine a hysterectomy with no pain medication). She left the hospital having had a narcotic injection and a carprofen prescription. She was drunk when I brought her home but comfortable, and remained so through her recovery.

I was a vet tech during the time when no pain meds were given post-spay or any surgery. Vets argued that if they made pets pain-free they would act up and disrupt their incisions. I hated it and am glad to see it's changed....in most cases.

Posted by: JaSmith | August 20, 2017 7:21 AM    Report this comment

This gets me sick. How could any doctor consider this.( pain medicine option)

Ray Piwowarczyk

Posted by: Ray | August 20, 2017 12:45 AM    Report this comment

Thank you for the article. Since it is coming up in the letters, would it be possible for WDJ to do an article on alternatives to a full spay/neuter? Our vet looks at me like I'm crazy if I mention this topic, but I think it very beneficial to either keep hormones with a less radical spay or use HRT.

Posted by: DonnaE | August 19, 2017 10:16 AM    Report this comment

I only got as far as the 2nd comment and read, "If you can't afford proper care don't get a pet." I read this so often and it just makes me so mad that I had to say something. I doubt very much that anyone gets a pet thinking that they can't afford to pay for proper care. But circumstances and 'life' changes. When we got our 2nd dog over 13 years ago and at the time also had a 3yr old, our financial situation was very different than it is now. Yes, we can still pay for basic care but we have to be careful where our funds go...but there is no way we could even dream of giving up either one no matter what the cost. But I can understand not everyone has that option. We also don't have the full story of how this college student ended up with this dog in the first place, he may have saved her life...

Posted by: my2havs | August 18, 2017 1:02 PM    Report this comment

That is so sad!!! My vet ALWAYS administers a pain medication via injection post op AND gives me pain meds to begin that same evening ( of course this is Itemized on the Invoice I receive. I foster rescue dogs and have had many dogs neutered/spayed over the years and have NEVER experienced such lack of compassionate care demonstrated by any veterinary practice. It's irrelevant if a vet is a "holistic" vet or a "traditional" vet, the standard of care should be excellent & compassionate care for all animals!

Posted by: PkLdr5 | August 18, 2017 8:09 AM    Report this comment

My Yorkie had an ovary sparing spay. This leaves ovaries and removes uterus and cervix. I knew from past experiences about pets being under medicated and insisted on tramadol on top of the metacam. And she needed it. You are your pets only advocate. Speak up. If you can't afford proper care don't get a pet. I highly recommend a holistic vet. They are trained in caring for entire pet and in alternative medicine and treatments. Well worth seeking one out.

Posted by: NovaS otiaSunshine | August 18, 2017 1:44 AM    Report this comment

Sad! I've done trap, spay/neuter and release of 2 separate feral cat colonies to prevent their demise by nearby business tenants and 2 spay/neuter clinics I used required that be part of the program, which of course I was 100% on board with. The other gave me an option, and I gave them my opinion on that being optional, they have since changed their policy! Thanks for bringing this subject up, education/awareness is key to improvements in life!

Posted by: Sting | August 17, 2017 9:20 PM    Report this comment

I am just curious why no one is mentioning replacement hormones for these dogs. People are always given them without question and the dog needs the sex hormones for several different reasons. And possibly maybe just removal of the tubes and not the ovaries would be very helpful down the road in the health of the dog. Males also need replacement therapy. I also question the injections right into the testicles that cause them to shrivel and die.

Posted by: Bunny | August 17, 2017 7:21 PM    Report this comment

What an all around sad story. I've been taking in dumped and abandoned cats and dogs near me for almost 20 years and in many, many dogs, I've never had:

A) Any dogs accidentally breed, even though the majority of the dogs that are dumped are female and unspayed. You can't be lax with an unspayed female.

B) An experience like this and I've had around 10 dogs and 5 cats spayed or neutered. It's also a good reason to have some pain meds (natural) on hand that are safe for pets. I just had a lab go through two lipoma removal surgeries (12 lbs. & 4 lbs.) in the last 7 months and both times I opted for natural pain treatments and both times they have worked wonderfully and I don't have to worry about any negative side effects.

Sadly, I've had almost as many bad experiences as good ones with vets, including killing one with prescription meds and cancer being missed in another. I started my blog to help warn and educate other pet owners of some of the things I've learned and been through over the years so hopefully no one else goes through with their pets what I have.

Posted by: CC @ Saving Cats, Dogs and Cash | August 17, 2017 5:55 PM    Report this comment

I know it is sometimes prohibitively expensive, but the lap-spay (Laparoscopic Ovariectomy) is really the way to go. If you have ever watched a regular spay, they literally tear things out and go through muscle. I have had had a lap spay on my 3 working dogs and they can jump in the car when they are done (although I don't let them). They can go to work in a few days. It is an amazing procedure and, hopefully, someday will be the procedure of choice in most cases. My own vet does them in almost every case and that has brought the price down.

Posted by: checknodie | August 17, 2017 4:10 PM    Report this comment

I assume my Irish setter was given an injection when she was spayed at age six months. She's eight years old now, so my memory is a bit foggy. But I'm pretty sure we got no take-home meds and she had no trouble climbing stairs the next day. One thing I'm wondering is whether a spay is harder on a dog that's physically mature than on one that isn't. My dog wasn't full grown for another six months to a year after her surgery.

Posted by: califgrl | August 17, 2017 3:58 PM    Report this comment

You need a new vet! My vet has always given the so called "pain pack" after surgeries. I am concerned though that the "owner" of the dog does not have the time to properly care for the dog. When you get a pet, whether it is a dog, cat, bird, lizard, rat or that ever, they count on you to be their advocate for their happiness & health. I have always said to many, "if you are not willing to financially take on the care of a pet, don't get one!" I have a Labrador Retriever that one day couldn't't get up without major pain. I took her to emergency & they couldn't figure out the problem after blood work & radiographs. I was referred to a specialist who also could not figure it out. I was devastated when it was suggested that I might have to put her down to be humane without knowing what was wrong. ($5,000 for all that) I couldn't even begin to grasp the idea of just disposing of her. She had a very awful beginning & I refused to give her an awful ending without fighting. I took her back to my vet & she then referred me to a college to have an MRI 110 miles away. I took her a few days later & as soon as the Neurologist did the MRI he figured out that the problem was....An infection in her lower spine which were given a regiment of antibiotics that she was on for 1 year at the cost of $600.00 every 3 months. The bill for the MRI & the previous visits was a cost of $15,000 in the month of May,2016. I am still paying for it & I am retired on a fixed income but she is happy & healthy now.

Posted by: 4469ninja@comcast.net | August 17, 2017 3:27 PM    Report this comment

Can someone please tell me what breed mix would describe MJ who is pictured in this story? She looks identical to my Helen whom I never know how to describe to people. The best I've come up with is "kind of a German Shep with a Golden's coat". But then when people meet her they say, "Gosh! Your description was really off base. We didn't picture her to look like this!" Can someone help me out here with some other breed descriptors?

Posted by: JanisR | August 17, 2017 2:41 PM    Report this comment

I think you need a new vet. Hopefully you are not still going to the idiot who did the (TWO!) bad eu's for you. I have zero tolerance for any type of health care provider, animal or person type, who does not listen to me and/or does not follow my direction unless an emergency dictates a deviation from the plan.

Posted by: westielover | August 17, 2017 1:28 PM    Report this comment

Shameful. Pain meds should be mandatory, not optional. And the vet *forgot* to administer? The word "malpractice" comes to mind.

Posted by: PPaws | August 17, 2017 1:25 PM    Report this comment

I volunteer in the clinic at our local county shelter. Pain injections and post op pain medication is standard for both spay and neuter surgeries. Also given for extensive dental surgeries. I never thought it would be otherwise!

Posted by: Tonik | August 17, 2017 12:46 PM    Report this comment

I work for a low cost spay neuter clinic and the pain meds are optional. You would be surprised how many people pass on the extra $18 cost. I encouraged our clinic to include the pain meds in the cost of the surgery so it wouldn't be optional. They do now provide the pain injection, but the take home pills are still optional. I encourage the staff to push the take home meds for any spays. Like human females, female animals suffer more from this drastic surgery. I wish vet schools taught less intrusive methods for spays instead of a full hysterectomy.

Posted by: Elke | August 17, 2017 11:52 AM    Report this comment

I am very grateful for my vet. Pain mess are always given and I have not had this experience. How terrible to cause such pain and discomfort. It is good knowing that the pain is temporary and will ease over time. But as a pet mommy, I would have been so worried that something was going wrong. It's hard to tell whether it is "just" pain or if there is an infection.

Posted by: Remysmom | August 17, 2017 11:50 AM    Report this comment

My Vet required the pain meds and collar (if you had one you had to bring it with you) or he would not do the surgery. We use a program "Spay Today" to help defray the costs and they collect the funds so there is no way you can get out of it. (GOOD THING) They gave us three days of pain meds (syringes) to squirt in his mouth (we never used last day) He did great. I am so glad we did and it was a very successful / event free procedure and recovery.

Posted by: BusyVP | August 17, 2017 11:45 AM    Report this comment

That would explain my experience with my Great Dane Daisy and her awful spay surgery. I just thought she had a low tolerance to pain. Now that I have read your article I now understand what she went through. My husband and I brought her home from her surgery and this poor girl whined and cried thru the night. I did everything I could to make her comfortable. I stayed with her that whole night and day. I was giving her the pain meds as directed. I also called her doctor the very next day to inquire if this was normal only to be told that each animal is different. I was to watch for bleeding, swelling, and any draining at the site. Well the next night she still was in discomfort but without the crying all night. I tell you it was the hardest thing to witness an animal to go through. You trust your animals doctor to give them the best care possible in the most humane way only to find out that something was not right. Daisy did not have to go thru all that pain and I will never forget that night. She never did either because every time we head to any doctors office she starts to cry and shake. Who can blame her.

Posted by: Peanut33 | August 17, 2017 11:24 AM    Report this comment

I volunteer at a local spay/neuter clinic. Our vet insists on pain meds for all our patients (both canine and feline). All receive an injection and are sent home with meds for 5 days.

Posted by: Mary Housholder | August 17, 2017 11:01 AM    Report this comment

Two things struck me about this story.
First: For a veterinarian to even offer surgery without adequate pain control is horrific and unethical.
Second: An "accidental" litter of puppies is a dangerous misnomer. We in the U.S. need to condem all neglect when it comes to our over population of cats and dogs.
Keeping our pets safe and healthy -and pain free- is part and parcel of good animal husbandry.

Posted by: Tony Kannen | August 17, 2017 10:58 AM    Report this comment

I opted for laser surgery for my two girls' spays which was well worth the additional $65. I do not remember about pain medication but I do know they healed very fast. The worst problem was trying to keep them quiet since they wanted to run and play the next day.
I agree with Nanden. Dog ownership is expensive, especially if, like me, you are feeding real human quality food to three German Shepherd Dogs. On the other hand, canine companionship is so valuable to humans it seems unkind to deny a doggie pal to someone because they have limited means.
And yes, vets make mistakes. Be a wise consumer, ask questions and follow through. Keep good records. On one visit the vet tech told me my dog was due for her rabies vaccine. I had decided to stop vaccinating so I declined. When I got home I checked her tag and she wasn't due for 18 months!!! They just shrugged it off, "Oh, well".

Posted by: BarbaraJ | August 17, 2017 10:52 AM    Report this comment

My youngest Golden, Breeze, was spayed this past January at 15 months of age. I don't know if she received a pain injection during surgery/post op, but we did come home with oral pain meds. We live in southern Maine. Unfortunately, the meds did not do the trick and we spent 12 long hours trying to comfort her while she lay moaning in pain, refusing to eat or drink anything. It so happened that the very next day, our other Golden girl was having her regularly scheduled acupuncture appt for maintenance/prevention of a flare up of her auto immune disease, and while we were there, he examined Breeze and gave her sub cutaneous fluids and an acupuncture treatment which seemed to help her immensely.

Posted by: Bella and Breeze's Mom | August 17, 2017 10:07 AM    Report this comment

You really have to be thorough with your Vet. I had a sweet 12 year old smooth hair fox terrier go in for a dental. I spoke with the vet numerous times before her surgery and told her because of her age I didn't want a lot of extractions. The vet didn't listen to me and pulled 20 teeth at once and my sweet happy girl died. I will never get over it.

Posted by: ScottieLover | August 17, 2017 10:07 AM    Report this comment

This story bothers me on so many levels. I'm really happy that the dog has a wise, caring and responsible support person to guide the owner. On the other hand, should a person own a dog when he clearly does not have the means to provide basic wellness care, let alone take care of the dog when she gets sick? Maybe you would be preaching to the choir, but perhaps an article is needed regarding the basic financial requirements for pet ownership.

Posted by: Nanden | August 17, 2017 10:07 AM    Report this comment

I have heard of this many times as "an oversight" and but I suspect it is always "cost savings". Shame on those vets!

Posted by: RDRJ | August 17, 2017 9:49 AM    Report this comment

Wow, I'd be worried what else that vet practice "forgot"! My vet always does a long acting pain relief injection following spays and I have not found that my girls need anything beyond that except for maybe some sympathy and extra cookies.

Posted by: imacorgimim | August 17, 2017 9:45 AM    Report this comment

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