Pain-Free in Dallas!

September 28, 2013

AAFP bagIt’s day two of the AAFP conference, and today was entirely devoted to pain management in cats. All of the lectures I attended today were given by the same speaker, Dr. Robin Downing. The good news is that Dr. Downing is a fantastic lecturer so our eight hours together flew by. The bad news is that there weren’t enough hours in the day for her to answer all of the questions evoked by her groundbreaking talks on pain management!

Dr. Downing is a highly-credentialed, passionate advocate for aggressive pain management in acute and chronic conditions in dogs and cats. She’s a founding member of the International Academy of Veterinary Pain Management (of which I am a member) and recently has devoted her attentions to defining parameters for quality of life in geriatric and terminally ill pets. Pain management has always been a passion of mine, and I was positively inspired by Dr. Downing’s multimodal pain management recommendations.

The first hour was devoted to acute pain management in cats (such as that associated with surgery or injuries.) Acute pain, even when severe, is often more amenable to treatment than chronic pain. The next several hours were devoted to identifying signs of chronic pain in felines, as well as a multitude of options with which to treat that pain. There were several new medical therapies discussed (such as a supplement called Duralactin which contains milk proteins proven to inhibit inflammation) that were entirely novel concepts for me. I’m thrilled to bring home several new pain management ideas for our geriatric felines with arthritis pain, and other chronically painful conditions.

Dr. Downing also spent a lot of time discussing the concept of a “Fear Free” veterinary practice, in which all team members strive to provide the most calm, pain-free, stressless experience possible when a cat or dog strolls into the veterinary clinic. This is an area where most veterinarians can improve, and there are so many reasons to do so! It benefits our patients (less stress, aggression, panting, urination/defecation), our clients (less cat wrangling when the carrier is brought out of the closet) and our staff (less bite and scratch wounds for us!)

I have pages of notes and a brain full of ideas that I can’t wait to share when I return to work! Tomorrow’s topic: feline nutrition!