Sample script: How to discuss chronic pain management

Sample script: How to discuss chronic pain management

"Pet owners don't want their pets to suffer, so we rarely encounter resistance to our pain management recommendations," says Robin Downing, DVM, Dipl. AAPM, owner of Windsor Veterinary Clinic and The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, Colo. She recommends this sample script to help pet owners understand their pet's pain.

You: The doctor has asked me to talk with you about minimizing Fluffy's pain. Proper pain management will improve her quality of life, enhance your relationship and family activities with her, and reduce potential medical complications that come from untreated pain.

Client: How does the doctor know Fluffy's in pain?

You: Remember during her exam the doctor touched and moved Fluffy in very specific ways? That shouldn't have bothered Fluffy. But she flinched, squirmed, and even cried out, which told the doctor Fluffy is painful and signaled where Fluffy's experiencing pain.

Client: How can I tell when Fluffy's in pain?

You: Monitor Fluffy's behavior during her usual activities. Behavior changes, such as getting out of bed slowly, are red flags that should prompt us to reexamine her. Also monitor Fluffy's stamina on walks, her willingness to go up and down stairs, and changes in her sleep pattern.

Client: Now that we know Fluffy is painful, what's next?

You: First, the doctor has asked me to review the results of Fluffy's blood work with you. We always screen our patients for any underlying medical problems before we prescribe a new medication. We want to make sure the medicine is appropriate based on the blood work results. We also want to make sure we have a baseline in case Fluffy has a reaction to any medication.

Second, we'll discuss the medications the doctor has prescribed, including the dosing schedule and any potential side effects. I'll also provide you a written copy of this information.

Third, we'll talk about simple changes you can make at home to make Fluffy feel more comfortable, and I'll answer your questions. Then we can schedule Fluffy's next recheck. At that appointment, we'll make any appropriate adjustments to her medications or her daily routine. So let's discuss Fluffy's blood work...