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Breaking the cycle of pain - small animal vs. large animal

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    Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
    I guess the contrast between small/large animal medicine has been intriguing to me, to see the differences in both treatment and diagnostics, and also client attitudes. Perhaps neither one is better, they are just different.
    I think there are a number of factors

    1)size, and therefore cost - We just treated a cat at home for chronic kidney failure. We were able to keep her relatively happy for 5 months. I had not realized when we started how much we would be spending on fluids, needles, meds, bloodwork, etc. The whole time we dealt with this, I was thinking how prohibitively expensive it would be to treat a large dog - the fluids ended up being rather expensive, and a dog probably would have needed many times what we gave to our cat. A horse could have blown through the amount we spent in 5 months within a week or two of similar treatment.

    2)ease of treatment - I can treat my small animals at home, splitting duties with my husband. My horse doesn't live at home, and I need to travel to treat her. Handling and treating her requires a certain level of knowledge - I couldn't ask my husband to stop by and take care of any but the simplest tasks. Some treatments may require at least two people handling the horse, just because of her size, and the stregth with which she could object - for most things, I can restrain my pets by myself. If I cannot get to the horse as frequently as necessary or need an additional skilled handler, I need to pay someone to help me treat her.

    3)purpose & anatomy - for most people, a horse is intended for riding. The expense of keeping a horse, and their longevity forces a decision for some owners when their horse appears to be failing. For all horses, their sheer size and anatomy requires a certain level of soundness to be comfortable. It seems to me that a dog or cat can be a whole lot creakier and still be reasonably comfortable and happy. Their anatomy allows them to spend lots of time down and/or napping, whereas a horse is in much more trouble if are down or favoring a leg. I think a small animal owner can perceive more of a quality of life (maybe even more than is really there), while a horse owner who sees a horse down or not moving around has an obvious, serious problem that requires action.

    4)The training factor - horses are asked to do more than almost any small animal. I think that since a behavior change is very likely to be noticed as a consequence of some training activity, it is easy for a rider to link a misbehavior with what they asked the horse to do, and assume it is a training issue. The rider is probably already in a training frame of mind - do this with your leg, that with your hands, make him do this or that; it is more natural to think that the horse isn't listening, doesn't understand, or the rider is asking wrong, than it is to think they are resistant due to pain. A behavior change in a small animal will probably be noticed in more of a passive manner - the animal is not acting like it usually does. The owner doesn't see themselves as a part of the issue since they weren't doing something when the behavior occurred, so they more quickly leap to a physical problem.


      Ditto was george said about massage... under utilized and doesn't cause ulcers. I am a massage therapist, so I speak from experience. Pain relief if what I do. feel free to PM me if anyone has any questions.
      If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.


        It does crack me up that when you're on hold at my vet's office, you get this recording about all the great things they do/have... and one of them is about pain relief and how it leads to better healing etc.

        It feels like they're pushing Oxy's...

        Excellent point about companion animals being able to rest/lay down.

        We had a weanling colt who broke his neck in a pipe panel accident. I would have put him down SEVERAL times over, and almost did one time while farm sitting... but tincture of TIME, and the fact that he was small enough to stay down without THAT being a major issue saved him. I don't know that he's all that sound or productive, but he's not in pain, and has a pasture pet home.

        Also agree about horses falling somewhere between livestock and pet. On the working 4,250 acre ranch I had 110 +/- horses... if somewhat routine vet work, and turnout/rest didn't 'cure' the ailment... they were either put down, or in the case of lameness, occasionally went to auction. A hard truth for a young, idealistic city girl. I think though, that experience colours how far I'll go and what I consider ordinary vs. extraordinary measure and expenses. And believe it or not, 'quality of life' was a far *higher* factor on the Ranch than cost... but often the quality of life question led to a much more permenant answer than pampered city girls liked. But they lived on 200 acre pastures, they had to be able to get to feed and water, and to defend themselves in the herd...

        It was different, and taught me a ton about letting horses be horses. I think I am firmly in the middle now, between that extreme, and the pampered-spare-no-expense kind of one-horse-owner-no-children-boarder I grew up with. Most often single ladies with very nice jobs, who went as far to the opposite extremes as you really could...
        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

        Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


          Originally posted by Simkie View Post
          Blush is on 2000 mg gabapentin bid and it costs me about $40 a month. Walgreens includes the 100 mg capsules on their prescription card, which I purchased for Blush for something like $20.
          My bad ! I was thinking of Amandatine, which we were using as a wind up antagonist in conjunction with Gabapentin!!!

          We used Gaba. often with post-op small animal orthopedic cases.


            Originally posted by findeight View Post
            And, ya' know, some of them are victims of bad handling, training, riding and you cannot say it is ALL because of pain in either the small animal or a horse.
            This is what I find to be a big difference in horses vs small animals. An average horse goes through many more owners in a life than an average companion animal. It's much, much harder to separate the trained/experience factors to his behavior from the internal factors. Physical and mental issues can manifest themselves so similarly.

            Have you also noticed that small animal vets are less likely to point to behavior modification in pets vs the horse world? My experience told me they rely more on drugs than training. I'm sure that's because it's easier to modify the pet's behavior than the owner's, as small animal owners in general are less amenable to investing time in training. When my rescue puppy developed bad separation anxiety, it was much, much easier for me to get a prescription than to find answers about how to change my behavior and his environment to suit. I never did end up filling those prescriptions and he's now mostly happily adapted.


              Part of the issue of training/experiences with horses vs cats/dogs is that the horse is a prey animal, cats/dogs are predators just like us. Far too many horse owners never even hear that concept, much less understand it, and acting like a predator when you're trying to train a horse just doesn't work well.
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                Original Poster

                Originally posted by JB View Post
                Part of the issue of training/experiences with horses vs cats/dogs is that the horse is a prey animal, cats/dogs are predators just like us. Far too many horse owners never even hear that concept, much less understand it, and acting like a predator when you're trying to train a horse just doesn't work well.
                I think also, that small animal owners can get away with NOT training. Dogs and cats are small, compared to horses. If they act unruly or misbehave it is much easier for owners to look past, to some degree, even if it means tossing the dog out in the yard, crating, or flat out just ignoring...

                Not so easy to ignore when the "pet" is an unruly 1200lb horse!
                We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.