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Randomised trial of perioperative tramadol for canine sterilisation pain management
  1. Natascha V Meunier1,
  2. Ambra Panti2,
  3. Stella Mazeri1,
  4. Karlette A Fernandes3,
  5. Ian G Handel2,
  6. Barend M de C Bronsvoort1,
  7. Luke Gamble3 and
  8. Richard J Mellanby2
  1. 1 The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, UK
  2. 2 Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, UK
  3. 3 Worldwide Veterinary Service, Cranborne, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondenceUniversity of Edinburgh Roslin Institute, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK; natascha.meunier{at}


Surgical sterilisation to manage free-roaming dog populations is widely used in many countries. However, few studies have examined optimal postoperative pain management regimens at low-resource, high-throughput veterinary clinics. The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of two intravenous analgesic regimens, preoperative administration of meloxicam and tramadol, or meloxicam alone, in free-roaming dogs undergoing sterilisation. A total of 125 dogs were included, with 64 dogs in the meloxicam-tramadol arm and 61 dogs in the meloxicam-only arm in a non-inferiority study design. Pain levels in sterilisation surgery patients were assessed at four time points after surgery using the Colorado State University Canine Acute Pain Scale, a Visual Analogue Scale and a modified version of the Glasgow Composite Measure Pain Scale – Short Form. Non-inferiority was supported for each of the main scoring outcomes using non-inferiority margins of 0.5, 5 and 0.8, respectively. One dog from the meloxicam-tramadol group and four dogs in the meloxicam-only arm required rescue analgesia, with no difference between groups (P=0.21).The study demonstrated that meloxicam was effective in controlling postoperative pain in a high proportion of dogs. The addition of tramadol alongside meloxicam treatment was not found to be of clinical benefit.

  • tramadol
  • analgesia
  • sterilisation
  • ovariohysterectomy
  • castration
  • welfare
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  • Funding NM is supported by the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust and Dogs Trust.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was attained from the University of Edinburgh, Veterinary Ethics Research Committee (VERC 20.17).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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