Technical information for veterinarians

Trauma

When cell membranes and the extracellular matrix are damaged, the potential for first intention healing involving the regeneration/proliferation of parenchymal elements is significantly reduced. This in turn results in the following:

  • Decreased production of long chain glycosaminoglycans with a compensatory increase in shorter chain glycosaminoglycans, leading to dehydration of the tissues and reduced membrane receptivity.
  • Decreased ability of the cells to receive the growth factors (somatomedins, insulin, etc.), that are necessary for cellular repair, maintenance, protection and communication.
  • The deposition of heavily glycosylated, compact and inflexible collagen types V and VI.
  • Increased granulomatous second intention healing involving stromal elements (i.e. development of scar tissue). This leads to loss of cellular/tissue function.
  • The loss of function in the cells and tissues further compromises the body’s ability to repair damage, leading to excessive inflammation, joint stiffness, spasm. and increased tendency to bruise.

Treatment options

Pet owners naturally want their pet to heal as fast as possible. Immobilizing the area (possibly with a brace or splint) may provide adequate stabilization during the recovery period.

Analgesics should be used to control pain and the animal should be given plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Owners should be apprised of the signs of infection (heat, redness, increased discomfort, discharge), and should be encouraged to seek your professional advice if they think a wound may have become infected. The pet should not be allowed to get wet for at least a week following surgery.

Medications:

Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory medications – Ideally, these should only be used for the short term, when necessary to control pain.

Acetaminophen

For mild to moderate pain, acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Panadol®, Exdol®, etc.) is often prescribed. Since acetaminophen has no anti-inflammatory properties, it can generally be safely combined with anti-inflammatory medications. Never give acetaminophen to cats.

Visco-supplementation

Visco-supplementation is the process of injecting a gel-like substance into a joint. This may be done following surgery. This substance lubricates the cartilage, reducing pain and improving flexibility. Visco-supplementation decreases friction within the joint, thus reducing pain and allowing greater mobility. This method of treatment requires ongoing injections, as benefits are only temporary. Substances used in visco-supplementation include hyaluronic acid, or HA (Legend®, Hylartin® and Synacid®), and poly-sulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAGS) such as Adequan®.

Post surgical period

HELPING YOUR PET FOLLOWING SURGERY

If your pet has been injured, and/or has had surgery, you will want to make his/her recovery time as fast as possible. This may mean immobilizing the area of injury and keeping your pet as quiet and inactive as you can. It is also important to ensure your pet receives the painkillers he/she needs. Here are some tips on helping your pet heal.

  • Try to keep the affected area as immobile as possible. Your veterinarian may suggest a splint or a removable brace to provide adequate stabilization during the recovery period.
  • Discourage your pet from licking or chewing at the incision site. If licking and chewing persists you should place a “lampshade collar” around your pet’s neck.
  • If the patient is a dog, use acetaminophen to control pain (unless your veterinarian suggests otherwise). Never give acetaminophen to cats as it is toxic.
  • Give your pet plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Watch for signs of infection (heat, redness, increased discomfort, discharge), and notify your vet immediately if you think the wound has become infected. Antibiotic therapy may be necessary.
  • Do not allow your pet to get wet for at least seven days following surgery.
  • Heat/cold therapy usually helps to reduce pain
  • Be attentive to your veterinarian’s prescribed plan of treatment.

REDUCING THE RISK OF RE-INJURY

The following pointers will help pet owners reduce the risk of re-injury:

EXERCISE

Muscle, bone and other tissues of the body respond to exercise by becoming stronger. The best exercise for your pet is weight bearing exercise, which forces him/her to work against gravity. (Walking is a weight bearing exercise.) In addition to preventing bone loss or rebuilding bone, exercise can also strengthen muscles. Having strong muscles will help your pet maintain better balance and become more flexible. This can help prevent falls that could cause bone fractures.

Your choice of exercise might be more limited if your pet has severe pain. However, it is still important that your pet gets some exercise.

Always consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program. He or she may also be able to refer a physical therapist who can advise you of the forms of exercise that are likely to be helpful and those that could be harmful.

Being active will also keep your pet a healthy weight, preventing the strain on the joints that leads to arthritis.

A NOTE ON MEDICATIONS

Whenever possible, avoid chronic administration of drugs that may accelerate tissue breakdown. (These include corticosteroids and NSAIDs, long-term use of which should be discussed with your veterinarian.)

YOUR PET’S DIET

Making sure you feed your pet a high quality, natural diet is important to his/her long-term health and well-being. Many pet food suppliers now carry quality natural foods geared towards your pet’s age/weight, etc. Be sure to supplement standard feed with an acidophilus supplement and flax oil for a healthy digestive system and arteries, and to help prevent arthritis.

PREVENTING REINJURY

Falling

Preventing falls is of special concern to owners of pets with osteoporosis as falls can increase the likelihood of fracturing bones. In addition to the environmental factors listed below, falls can also result from impaired vision and/or balance, chronic diseases that impair mental or physical functioning, and certain medications such as sedatives. It is important that pets with osteoporosis be observed more carefully so that physical changes that affect their balance or gait are noticed early and mentioned to your veterinarian.

Some tips to help eliminate the environmental factors that lead to falls include:

Outdoors

  • Be careful on highly polished floors that become slick and dangerous when wet.
  • Remove yard debris that your pet may stumble over.

Indoors

  • Keep rooms free of clutter, especially on floors.
  • Keep floor surfaces smooth but not slippery.

Avoid excessive stress on bones and joints

  • Prevent your pet from keeping the same position for a long period of time.
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your pet, to avoid putting extra stress on the bones.
  • Use supportive devices when necessary.

Show your pet you care

A soothing voice, a scratch behind the ears, a stroke or pat on the back…all these gestures communicate that you care for your pet and are there to provide help in a time of need.

Small animal health options

Bioflavonoids (plant-based, antioxidant substances with the power to protect plant and animal tissues), have been shown in many scientific studies to help the tissues maintain their youthful structure. Antioxidants from green tea (Camellia sinensis) and grapes (Vitis vinifera) have been shown to have particularly beneficial effects and may be employed preventively or therapeutically to help repair damaged tissues. Nutricol® – available to veterinarians as Recovery®SA – is a proprietary formulation containing both these ingredients.*

Recovery®SA

Recovery®SA with Nutricol® is a proprietary natural health product developed to improve quality and rate of post-traumatic repair of damaged and inflamed tissue.* It may be used on its own or in combination with prescribed medications. See the Oct and Dec 2003 reviews of Recovery®EQ in the prestigious Horse Journal