Objective—To estimate the prevalence and characteristics of pain in dogs and cats examined by an emergency service at a veterinary teaching hospital and evaluate the response of dogs and cats with signs of pain to analgesic treatment.
Animals—317 dogs and 112 cats.
Procedure—A questionnaire was used to categorize the characteristics of pain. The location, cause, and signs of pain were determined by obtaining a thorough history and conducting a physical examination. Pain was categorized by type (superficial somatic, deep somatic, or visceral), mechanism (inflammatory, neuropathic, or both), severity (mild, moderate, or severe), and duration. Evidence for primary or secondary hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity to manipulation was determined. The response to single or multiple analgesic drug administration was assessed.
Results—179 (56%) dogs and 60 (54%) cats had signs of pain. In most of these dogs and cats, pain was classified as acute (< 24 hours' duration) and of moderate severity and was associated with primary hypersensitivity. Most dogs had deep somatic pain; most cats had visceral pain. Inflammation was the most common mechanism. One hundred nineteen (66%) dogs and 41 (68%) cats were treated with analgesic drugs. Analgesic treatment was considered effective in 73 (61%) dogs and 31 (76%) cats.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that moderate to severe acute somatic pain caused by inflammation is common in dogs and cats examined by an emergency service and that a combination of multiple analgesic drugs is more effective than any single analgesic drug in the treatment of pain in these dogs and cats. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:2004–2009)