Diagnosing your best friend’s pain

ZIGGYPhoto taken by Melissa Douman

LOOK, don’t go out and get your cat a Panado each time you think it has a headache. According to Dr Lynette Bester from the School of Physiology, the Panados will kill it.
But yes, of course animals do feel pain. In her presentation at the School of Physiology on Tuesday, Dr Bester said animals did feel pain, although the extent and nature were not certain.
This is because there is no way of asking an animal: “On a scale of one-to-ten, how sore are you?”
Human medication was designed for human bodies, she said. In proportion to most domestic animals, humans could withstand higher doses.
Human painkillers couldn’t be used by animals because they don’t have the digestive enzymes to break down and absorb them.
She explained that some animals were able to communicate their pain more expressively than others. Cats made loud caterwauls and become aggressive and violent. Dogs could slip into a droopy-eyed depression, with an “I don’t want to be your best friend” attitude. They stopped eating or drinking water for days on end.
Reptiles may burn themselves very badly if they come into contact with fire. Because they are cold-blooded and can withstand very high temperatures, they may not feel their scales are burning.
They probably won’t show their discomfort. But if you’re silly enough to try to touch them, they’ll become violent.
They are very sensitive to touch, so just coming near them can cause a vibration that could get them striking.
Birds mask their pain until they are on their death nest. Parrots may squawk to express their discomfort. Lovebirds are assumed to feel a very different kind of pain – an emotional one – when they lose their better half. They stop eating, drinking or chirping until their organs fail and they die a lonely death. This type of pain, no amount of medication can cure.
Horses can experience severe abdominal pain and show this by looking at their abdomens and contorting their faces. And if you’re ever brave enough to touch a horse’s hind legs, you may also experience a nasty pain in the head.
Domestic animals, like cats, won’t express their pain to just anybody.
So they might make “hot tin roof” noises at home, but pretend to be just fine at the vet. This is because they feel vulnerable in foreign territory.
 Chemical Engineering student, Kaveeren Naidu, is trying to get 2-million signatures for a Stop Innocent Animals From Suffering campaign.
Naidu belongs to a group that wants the government to assess the laws to prevent cruelty to animals.
If there were stricter laws in place, they feel people would be more aware of an animal’s rights and be less inclined to hurt it.
Naidu cited the much-publicised case of the man who severed a husky’s head with a chainsaw and only received a fine. “More severe laws should be implemented to stop these people from acting like animals, such as imprisonment,” said Naidu.
The man who killed the dog died in a car crash shortly after. “Now that’s karma for you,” said Naidu.


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