Page 316 - WSAVA2018
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 25-28 September, 2018 | Singapore
WSV18-0141
ANIMAL WELLNESS & WELFARE
EMOTIONAL PAIN. WHY IT MATTERS MORE TO ANIMALS THAN PHYSICAL PAIN AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
F. McMillan1
1Best Friends Animal Society, Animal Care, Kanab- UT, USA
EMOTIONAL PAIN: WHY IT MATTERS MORE TO ANIMALS THAN PHYSICAL PAIN AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
Franklin D. McMillan, DVM, DACAW
Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab, Utah, USA, email: dr.frank@bestfriends.org
WHAT IS PAIN, AND WHAT IS EMOTIONAL PAIN?
Pain has two meanings, both presented in standard and medical dictionaries. One meaning refers to standard nociceptive, or physical, pain. The other refers broadly to all types of unpleasant feeling states—emotional
as well as physical. Unpleasant emotional states are associated with feelings that hurt—they cause suffering. This is emotional pain. Types of emotional pain for which substantial evidence exists in animals include fear (and phobias), anxiety, separation anxiety (or separation distress), isolation distress (loneliness), boredom, frustration, anger, helplessness, grief, and depression.
THE FUNCTIONAL VALUE OF UNPLEASANTNESS
The aversiveness of physical pain serves to command attention, interrupt ongoing behavior, and motivate actions aimed at mitigating the aversive experience. It has been theorized that the function of emotional pain is analogous to that of physical pain, focusing attention on threats and motivating behavior to minimize the threat. For example, it is widely accepted that physical pain promoted survival by protecting the individual from bodily harm – precisely the function of fear. Indeed, pain and fear frequently operate in unison, as in avoidance learning.
EVIDENCE THAT EMOTIONAL PAIN IS NOT JUST A METAPHOR
Much of our language refers to unpleasant emotional states as “painful” and using pain-related terms like broken heart, heartache, crushed, burned, and reopened old wounds. But is this just a metaphor? In recent years evidence has been mounting to indicate that it is not, and that the view of unpleasant emotional states as a form of pain appears to have a valid scientific rationale.
1. A common neuroanatomical basis
Research in humans and nonhuman animals has provided convincing evidence that social pain and physical pain rely on shared brain processes, both anatomically and physiologically.
2. Sensitivity to physical pain corresponds to an enhanced sensitivity to the emotional pain
Findings from several human studies provide evidence that when an individual shows an enhanced sensitivity to one type of pain they also show an enhanced sensitivity to the other.
3. Eliciting physical pain produces the experience of social pain
One study found that social and physical pain cause common psychological consequences. Both social and physical pain produce feelings of being ignored and excluded; previously, only social pain was found to lead to these effects.
4. Methods for alleviating one type of pain alleviate the other
In animals and humans, physical and socio-emotional pain are alleviated similarly by 2 different methods: social support and drugs. Regarding drug therapy, it was recently demonstrated in humans that acetaminophen
– a drug well-known for its analgesic effects for physical pain – can alleviate some forms of emotional pain. (Note: Acetaminophen should not be used in animals in any capacity other than as specified in current veterinary drug manuals.)
EVIDENCE THAT SOCIAL PAIN CAN BE MORE DISTRESSING THAN PHYSICAL PAIN
Can emotional and physical pain be compared? Empirically, studies have historically argued that emotional factors weigh more strongly in animals ’behavioral choices than does physical pain. In one study, an electrified grid was placed between puppies and persons to whom they had formed a social attachment. The puppies crossed the grid, receiving shocks the entire way, to reestablish contact with the person. In another study, infant rats were removed from their mothers and placed on the opposite side
of an electrified grid. The mother rats could hear their pups’ distress vocalizations, but to reach them required walking across the active grid. The mother rats crossed the grid, picked up the pups, and carried them back across the grid to their nest, receiving constant electric shocks in both directions. Anecdotal stories provide further evidence for the greater distress potential for emotional pain. In a well-publicized news story out of Brooklyn, New York, a mother cat was nursing a litter of 4-week-old kittens in an abandoned building that caught fire. The mother cat re-entered the blazing building five times to retrieve each of her five kittens one at a time.
In the process, the mother cat received severe burns
to her face and head, so damaging that her eyes were swollen shut, her facial hair and ear tips were burned off, and her face was badly disfigured from the burned skin. In light of data from numerous experiments in mammals showing that the infant’s call of distress is highly arousing and motivating for the mother, this incident appears to
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43RD WORLD SMALL ANIMAL VETERINARY ASSOCIATION CONGRESS AND 9TH FASAVA CONGRESS



































































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