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First Aid: For Acute Injuries, Use Cold Therapy

March 8, 2013

The other day we looked into how our CH cats can benefit from heat therapy, and today we look at another option: cold therapy.

Photo courtesy Miki the Diet Coke Girl

Now before we get started, it’s important to keep two things in mind:

First, before you start either type of therapy on your CH cat, please consult your vet. He will tell you if the therapy is needed, and the best ways to administer it.

Second, understanding the difference between the two types of therapy is essential because they each relieve different pains. Whereas heat therapy is beneficial for chronic pain, think discomfort and general achiness, cold therapy is ideal for injuries that flare up quickly – within one to two days.

Acute pains and injuries usually result from a sprain, fall, collision, or some other impact. They can produce sharp, sudden pains, tenderness, redness, swelling, and inflammation. This can include new injuries or re-aggravated injuries. Again, if in doubt, consult your veterinarian to see which type of therapy he suggests.

Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, helps these types of injuries because the cold restricts circulation, which can reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain. It can be most helpful if administered right after an injury.

As with heat therapy, there are several ways that you can administer cold therapy safely. No matter which method you decide to go with, keep a few tips in mind.

For example, if left in place too long, a cold pack may cause complications. To prevent that, first wrap the pack with a towel and remove the ice pack from the injured area after ten to 15 minutes. Then wait at least two hours before reapplying.

Photo courtesy

Another thing to keep in mind: Cold therapy isn’t recommended before any kind of exercise or workouts – which for our cats may mean if they have the kitty crazies and feel like racing around the house. If they start running around after cold therapy, temporarily sequester them to a quiet room where they can calm down and relax.

If you can’t find cold therapy products for pets at your local pet supply store, try your local drugstore. Cold/hot packs that have gel in them can be especially helpful since they are malleable even when frozen. In a pinch, a bag of frozen peas or corn can also become a cold pack.

And with all injuries, the best medicine is simply rest. Providing a safe, comfortable, quiet place where your cat can recuperate can provide relief, too.

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