It is NOT in their head

I recently had the opportunity to talk to another Veterinarian who works exclusively with muscles and dogs who have functional limitations. While we have different focuses in how we treat, we often hear similar stories from owners. 

One of these stories is that their dog looks like it is in pain but they have been to their ‘insert almost any professional or paraprofessional’ and they didn't find anything. And due to this, they were told that the pain must be in their dog's head. 

This is always disappointing to hear. If a dog appears to be in pain, then it probably is in pain. An inability to identify the source of the pain does not give anyone the right to decide that pain management is not necessary and further diagnostics are not warranted. 

These cases are what I call the onion. They have likely been going on for a long period of time, during which the owner has been trying to find help. This means that there is often the original problem and a number of months of compensatory changes. 

If pain from the original condition has not been treated appropriately, there are also changes that can occur within the pain pathways. There can be wind up and sensitisation. This means that pain is experienced at a greater level than is considered normal. Non-painful stimulation can also be perceived as painful. 

All this can confound the picture and make finding an easy answer impossible.

Please dont accept that pain is in your dog's head. It might be complex, there might be many layers but dogs don’t ‘make things up’.

Instead find a professional who is happy to work with your onion and slowly peel back the layers of what is going on. This is a big part of why I have gone and done further study. So no owner feels like there is nothing more that can be done.

Dr Jaime Jackson