Analgesia in Small Mammals

Key Points

  • The goal of analgesia is to minimize pain and distress.
  • Carefully consider the choice of analgesic drug and timing of administration.
  • Prevent “pain windup” by administering opioid analgesia before injury.
  • Combinations of analgesics from different classes are more likely to be effective than a single agent used alone.
  • Ranges of different analgesics are available, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, and local anesthetics.
  • Gentle handling of tissues can reduce the degree of postoperative pain.
  • Pain assessment is more challenging in small mammals. Signs of pain may include immobility, reduced grooming, hunched posture, abdominal press, aggression, and reduced appetite.

As in other species, to manage pain successfully, one must know when pain might occur. Several common medical disorders can result in acute pain such as otitis, conjunctivitis, and acute gastrointestinal disease. Chronic pain can arise from conditions such as arthritis, which commonly develops in older . . .

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To cite this page:

Flecknell P. Analgesia in small mammals. April 28, 2010. LafeberVet Web site. Available at