Well, in this post I want to give the readers some cutting edge new developments in dog cancer pain control.
For decades, morphine has been a good old standard in pain control, both in dog and human medicine. Many oncologists and veterinarians involved in treating dogs afflicted with cancer use morphine to help these patients.
New evidence is always arising though, and I would like to share something that may influence the use of this drug.
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An article was published that has recently started getting some attention. It contained two main pieces of information. First, the use of morphine over 2 weeks, in rodents, caused tumors to increase in size, lowered survival times, and increased the spread of tumor cells. Secondly, the use of an anti inflammatory drug called celecoxib blocked this effect.
This is quite alarming for dog lovers giving their dog long-acting morphine to help with pain in osteosarcoma, or other tumor types.
How surprising that the very drug used for pain is likely worsening the cancer. Granted, this was not shown specifically in dogs, nor for all cancers, but it raises very large red flags. Remember that toxicity tests for human drugs are done on rodents!
In dogs, side effects of celecoxib limit its use unfortunately.
So, what do we do??
Well, like most things, one must look at the big picture. If your loved dog is departing, and morphine is helping, use it all you want. If you have a dog that is not immediately leaving you, or if you have a dog under its average life expectancy, consider limiting the use of morphine for pain control.
There are lots of other choices. Talk to your vet about these options:
- Tylenol with codeine
- anti inflammatory drugs like piroxicam, Deramaxx, Metacam, naproxen and others
- Gabapentin, which was originally intended for seizure control, also used for pain
- Elavil, previously commonly used for anxiety, now also used for more chronic pain
- Amantadine, a newer drug sometimes used for chronic pain
These can all be given at home and improve life quality for our canine companions during these difficult times.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.