Analgesic drugs can often be administered to manage pain in animals used in science, and this is a cornerstone of refinement. The American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists (ACVA) states "it is preferable to empirically administer analgesics pre-emptively if there is any question that a procedure will induce pain in an animal."
Since animal pain assessment can be challenging, it can seem simpler to give all animals a standard dose of analgesic. However, fixed dose regimens have been identified as one of the factors contributing to inadequate pain management in humans, and should also be avoided in animals.
Treatment of pain should be tailored to the individual animal, and should be based, in part, on the species, breed, age, procedure performed and degree of tissue trauma, individual behavioural characteristics, degree of pain, health status, and availability of drugs and techniques.
Selection of the most appropriate analgesic drug or technique requires veterinary judgement.
To control animal pain, it is important to:
This section was adapted from the ACVA position paper on the treatment of pain in animals and the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) website.
For more information on analgesia, the following resources may be useful.