The book is massive by veterinary nursing standards, with 11 packed chapters totalling more than 330 pages.
The first section gives a brief history of modern thoughts and it is quite apparent that the public think of the animal as a member of the family so if they feel pain give them painkillers. However, the veterinary approach can be quite different to analgesia. Don't believe me? Ready the statistics complied by the author Debbie Grant. She sets out to break the myths surrounding pain sensation in animals and put to right common misconceptions.
And no, its not all technical papers; in fact it makes interesting reading with the text broken up - not only by relevant graphs but by the odd funny cartoon!
The author has added many important factors in considering the pain level in animals including gender, age, breed, species and location of pain in the body. There are some tables which will be very handy for nurses in assessment of pain and to which degree - everything from vocalisation to loss of appetite, not only for cats and dogs, but other animals as well, the small furries included.
Pain scoring - the author has interestingly compared it to human pain. The scoring systems and methods explained are simple but very effective, having tested one on an unfortunate RTA myself.
The main basis of the book: the drugs themselves. The author has gone to great lengths to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each drug, which will be very helpful for the nurse who needs to nag the vet about pain relief for their patients. There are far too many drugs to mention in this review that the author has included, but suffice to say that she has not only added the common ones but some lesser-known ones too.
Other methods of pain relief are listed, with a paragraph about each. This section could quite easily develop into a whole series of books by itself. Such is the diversity of methods on the market, everything from massage to acupuncture and the controversial subject of homoeopathy are discussed. The author has added and unbiased section for each, which I think is very diplomatic. After all, different practices work in different ways and the most important person to convince is often the client. The addition on this section is very worthwhile.
The book, in a nutshell, is very good and well written too. As a profession we have a moral obligation to manage the pain of our patients and if this book helps just one, from the understanding gained by it, then it's worth it. Nurses tell your bosses to buy a copy - it's an investment.
David Kalcher, VN Times, Vol. 7 No. 3, 3rd March 2007