Veterinary Record 148:525-531 doi:10.1136/vr.148.17.525
  • Papers & Articles

Development of a behaviour-based scale to measure acute pain in dogs

  1. E. M. Scott, BSc, PhD3
  1. 1 Department of Veterinary Preclinical Studies
  2. 2 Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, University of Glasgow, Bearsden Road, Glasgow G61 IQH
  3. 3 Department of Statistics, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G1I2 8QQ
  1. Dr Holton's present address is Pharmapart (UK) Ltd, 11 Beta Centre, Stirling University Innovation, Stirling FK9 4NF
  2. Dr Pawson's present address is Department of Veterinary Surgery, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland


A composite scale for assessing pain in dogs in a hospital setting has been developed on the basis of observations of their behaviour. Initially, 279 words and expressions suggested by 69 veterinary surgeons were reduced into 47 words and expressions which were allocated into seven behaviour categories: demeanour and response to people, posture, mobility, activity, response to touch, attention to painful area and vocalisation. Three statistical methods, hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis, Cronbach's alpha coefficient, and analysis of variance with multiple comparisons and empirical cumulative distributions, were used to validate these procedures, and a questionnaire accompanied by a list of definitions was designed around the expressions. The new composite scale is more detailed than previously reported scales for assessing pain in dogs on the basis of their behaviour, and the methods used in its development are based on sound scientific principles.

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