October 2-3, 2019 | Bethesda, MD

Cross-Species Measurement of Acute Pain


Millions of Americans suffer acute pain every year, and use of naturally occurring models of acute pain in animals could contribute to the translational paradigm, and accelerate the discovery of effective, non-opioid analgesic options. However, to do this successfully, we need to be able to accurately measure acute pain in animals.

Additionally, acute pain suffered by all animals is a welfare concern; inadequate pain control can negatively affect the human animal bond; and pain in farm animals may negatively impact the animal’s ability to maintain normal productivity. The cost, time, and practical application of analgesia in food animals also need to be considered in this commercial environment of food production.

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Measurement of acute pain is central to addressing these issues, and this symposium will focus on the measurement of acute pain across species.


This meeting has been made possible by a generous grant from The Mayday Fund.

Offering 13 hours of AAVSB RACE Approved CE for Veterinarians

Questions and Answers


What is the Pain in Animals Workshop and what does it hope to accomplish?

The workshop is held in partnership with the National Institutes of Health and brings together researchers from across the country who are working to better understand acute pain in animals. Like people, animals undergo surgery and trauma, and experience painful conditions that require pain management. Ethically treating pain in animals is a welfare necessity.

How is acute pain studied in animals?

Animals with naturally occurring pain are used in studies to evaluate new therapies. Through the studies, the animals obtain essential medical care and pain control, all while researchers are evaluating new therapies and new tools to accurately measure and address pain. 

What types of animals are being used in the studies?

The animals involved in the studies are typically pets or livestock undergoing routine surgical procedures. Studies are only conducted on pets and livestock with owner permission.

What happens to the animals after the studies?

Pet dogs and cats enrolled in these studies return home to the owners once they are discharged from the veterinary clinic and are assessed as having adequate pain control following elective surgery. Livestock animals remain at their farm. All animals are assessed and managed for acute pain until the pain has subsided following surgery. All studies include informed consent and rescue clauses that allow for additional pain management to relieve discomfort as needed.

If you know the animal is in pain regardless of the new technique being tested, would you stop the study?

Yes. All animals are continually being assessed and managed for acute pain throughout the course of the study. If an animal is in more pain or distress than anticipated, study administrators will provide additional pain management to relieve discomfort.

Why is studying acute pain in animals necessary?

Learning to treat pain in animals and people is beneficial to all, as we all share the same physiology and experience painful conditions. Medical researchers are constantly working to better treat pain in humans, and we must do the same for animals.