Abstracts: Pain and problem behaviour in cats and dogs

We argue that there is currently an under-reporting of the ways in which pain can be associated with problem behaviour, which is seriously limiting the recognition of this welfare problem.

A review of the caseloads of 100 recent dog cases of several authors indicates that a conservative estimate of around a third of referred cases involve some form of painful condition, and in some instances, the figure may be nearly 80%.

The relationship is often complex but always logical. Musculoskeletal but also painful gastro-intestinal and dermatological conditions are commonly recognized as significant to the animal’s problem behaviour.

The potential importance of clinical abnormalities such as an unusual gait or unexplained behavioural signs should not be dismissed by clinicians in general practice, even when they are common within a given breed. In general, it is argued that clinicians should err on the side of caution when there is a suspicion that a patient could be in pain by carefully evaluating the patient’s response to trial analgesia, even if a specific physical lesion has not been identified.

The study is from the Animal Behaviour, Cognition & Welfare Group, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK; Behaviour Medicine Department, Centre Vétérinaire DMV, Montréal, Quebec, Canada; Department of Clinical Sciences, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Veterinary Behavior Consultant, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, Canada; Langford Veterinary Services, University of Bristol, Langford, UK; North Toronto Veterinary Behavior Specialty Clinic, Thornhill, Ontario, Canada; Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Animal Behavior Services, Lincoln Land Animal Clinic, Jacksonville, Illinois, USA; Insight Animal Behavior Services, Chicago, Illinois, USA; 1217 Wildfern Way, Greely, Ontario, Canada; Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA; Ars Veterinaria Hospital, Barcelona, Spain; and Animal Behavior Clinic of New Jersey, Englewood, New Jersey, USA.

Mills DS, Demontigny-Bédard I, Gruen M, et al. Animals (Basel) 2020;10(2). pii: E318. doi: 10.3390/ani10020318.

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