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THE Glasgow composite measure pain scale (GCMPS) is probably considered the gold standard to assess pain and analgesia needed in dogs, and is widely used in clinical settings and clinical research (Reid and others 2007). Its importance in the history of veterinary analgesia is such that we could probably use it to mark the years in an ideal veterinary analgesia calendar: ‘before GCMPS’ and ‘after GCMPS’. The idea of using a psychometric approach to develop a reliable pain scoring tool for dogs was brilliant in its simplicity, and the success of this tool is proof that it not only works well, but is also easy to implement in a clinical setting.
Being able to consistently assess pain in a semi-objective way in animals, with minimal interobserver variability, is crucial to move away from the two extremes of analgesic management: on one side, animals are managed as if they do not feel pain, and on the opposite side, animals' pain is managed assuming that the animal must be in pain because it underwent a procedure. While providing adequate analgesia for animals is, ethically and medically, unquestionable, we should resist the temptation to assume that animals experience the same level of pain after undergoing the same procedure. The inevitable outcome of this faulty assumption is administration of analgesia regardless of individual needs, resulting in inadequate analgesia in a proportion of cases, adequate analgesia in others, and unnecessary side effects of analgesic drugs in some animals that do not require them. The fact that an analgesic, or combination of them, has been administered to an animal does not guarantee the desired analgesic effect; similarly, we must accept that after certain procedures some animals may have minimal analgesic requirements (Mathews and others 2014).
The purpose of analgesia is to control pain, promoting normal …