Chronic Pain in Dogs and Cats: Is There Place for Dietary Intervention with Micro-Palmitoylethanolamide?

Della Rocca G, Gamba D.
Chronic Pain in Dogs and Cats: Is There Place for Dietary Intervention with Micro-Palmitoylethanolamide?
Animals (Basel). 2021 Mar 29;11(4):952. doi: 10.3390/ani11040952. PMID: 33805489; PMCID: PMC8065429.


The management of chronic pain is an integral challenge of small animal veterinary practitioners. Multiple pharmacological agents are usually employed to treat maladaptive pain including opiates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and others. In order to limit adverse effects and tolerance development, they are often combined with non-pharmacologic measures such as acupuncture and dietary interventions. Accumulating evidence suggests that non-neuronal cells such as mast cells and microglia play active roles in the pathogenesis of maladaptive pain. Accordingly, these cells are currently viewed as potential new targets for managing chronic pain. Palmitoylethanolamide is an endocannabinoid-like compound found in several food sources and considered a body's own analgesic. The receptor-dependent control of non-neuronal cells mediates the pain-relieving effect of palmitoylethanolamide. Accumulating evidence shows the anti-hyperalgesic effect of supplemented palmitoylethanolamide, especially in the micronized and co-micronized formulations (i.e., micro-palmitoylethanolamide), which allow for higher bioavailability. In the present paper, the role of non-neuronal cells in pain signaling is discussed and a large number of studies on the effect of palmitoylethanolamide in inflammatory and neuropathic chronic pain are reviewed. Overall, available evidence suggests that there is place for micro-palmitoylethanolamide in the dietary management of chronic pain in dogs and cats.

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L'Associazione Italiana per lo Studio del Dolore è il capitolo italiano dell'International Association for the Study of Pain IASP® e della European Pain Federation EFIC®