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 25-28 September, 2018 | Singapore
 Fig 1A
1. RECOGNITION AND ASSESSMENT OF ACUTE PAIN IN DOGSAcute pain occurs commonly in dogs as a result of a trauma, surgery, medical problems, infections or inflammatory disease. The severity of pain can range from very mild to very severe. The duration of pain can be expect- ed to be from a few hours to several days. It is generally well managed by the use of analgesic drugs. The effective management of pain relies on the ability of the veterinarian, animal health technician and veterinary nurse to recognize pain, and assess and measure it in a reliable manner. When the dog is discharged home, owners should be given guidance on signs of pain and how to treat it.
Objective measurements including heart rate, arterial blood pressure and plasma cortisol and catecholamine levels have been associated with acute pain in dogs;11 however, they are unreliable since stress, fear and
anaesthetic drugs affect them. Thus, evaluation of pain in dogs is primarily subjective and based on behavioural signs.
Pain recognition
Behavioural expression of pain is species-specific and is influenced by age, breed, individual temperament and the presence of additional stressors such as anxiety or fear. Debilitating disease can dramatically reduce the range of behavioural indicators of pain that the animal would normally show e.g. dogs may not vocalize and may be reluctant to move to prevent worsening pain. Therefore, when assessing a dog for pain a range
of factors should be considered, including the type, anatomical location and duration of surgery, the medical problem, or extent of injury. It is helpful to know the dog’s normal behaviour; however, this is not always practical and strangers, other dogs, and many analgesic and other drugs (e.g. sedatives) may inhibit the dog’s normal behavioural repertoire.
Behavioural signs of pain in dogs include:
· change in posture or body position (Figures 2 and 3)
· change in demeanour (Figure 4)
· vocalization
· altered reaction to touch
· altered interaction with people (e.g. reduced interac- tion, aggression)
· altered mobility (e.g. lameness, reluctance to move)
· reduction in appetite.
Pain assessment protocol
The most important step in managing acute pain well is to actively assess the dog for signs of pain on a regular basis, and use the outcomes of these assessments (through observation and interaction) along with knowledge of the disease/surgical status and history
of the animal to make a judgement on the pain state of the dog. It is recommended that carers adopt a specific protocol and approach every dog in a consistent manner to assess them for pain. Dysphoria should be considered where panting, nausea, vomiting or vocalization occurs immediately following opioid administration.
· Observe the dog in its kennel/bed and consider its demeanor and posture
· Approach the dog and interact with it, calling its name, and consider its response
· Touch the dog (around a wound/damaged tissue as appropriate), and consider its response (normal, aggressive, flinching etc.).
Where a dog is judged to be in pain, treatment should
be given immediately to provide relief. Dogs should be assessed continuously to ensure that treatment has been effective, and thereafter on a 2–4 hourly basis.
Pain measurement tools: these should possess the key properties of validity, reliability and sensitivity to change.

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