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2015 AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats

Introduction

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-clientpatient 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; evidencebased strategies for management are established in dogs, and emerging in cats. These guidelines support veterinarians in incorporating pain management into practice, improving patient care. (J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2015; 51:67–84. DOI 10.5326/JAAHA-MS-7331)

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