Animals can feel pain just like people, although they can’t always express it as well. In order to better treat these patients doctors have developed pain scales to better asses what a pet may be feeling and there fore need for comfort. This is still a little subjective but it can be discussed with your doctor to learn how best to apply it to your pet.
Pain management may start with something as simple as weight loss. Often as pets age more than one modality will be needed to help with discomfort and pain. Usually weight is addressed first then neutraceticles for joint protection. As these things lose effectiveness other medications such as injectable joint protectants and finally anti-inflammatories and pain medications may be needed. Every animal is different, so they may do better on one medication over another. Often combinations will actually have a synergistic effect providing more comfort than any one medication alone.
Above and beyond these modalities is Acupuncture, laser, massage and herbal treatments. These therapies can be use in conjunction or alone especially if other health problems prevent the use of some medications. Although still controvertial, acupuncture is being used with frequency in humans for cancer pain with success and muscular skeletal problems seem to respond particularly well.