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Analgesia in pet rabbits: a survey study on how pain is assessed and ameliorated by veterinary surgeons
  1. Livia Benato1,
  2. Joanna C Murrell2,
  3. Emily Jayne Blackwell1,
  4. Richard Saunders3 and
  5. Nicola Rooney1
  1. 1 Animal Welfare and Behaviour, School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Langford, UK
  2. 2 School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Langford, UK
  3. 3 Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, Enigma House, Culmhead Business Centre, Taunton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Livia Benato; livia.benato{at}


Background In the last 20 years, two studies on the veterinary use of perioperative analgesia in small mammals reported a limited use of analgesics in rabbits but suggested an increasing use over the years. The aim of this study was to better understand how pain is treated and ameliorated in rabbits while under veterinary care.

Methods An online survey of 60 questions was developed and advertised at national and international veterinary conferences, in veterinary publications and on social media.

Results In total 94.3 per cent of the respondents routinely administered nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to rabbits undergoing surgical procedures such as neutering, 71.4 per cent administered an opioid and 70.3 per cent routinely administered multimodal analgesia, although dosages do not always match current consensus opinion. Buprenorphine and meloxicam were the most common analgesic drugs prescribed by the respondents. The dosage of meloxicam administered both parenterally and orally varied widely.

Conclusion Rabbit analgesia has improved over recent years similarly to the trend seen in other companion animals. However, overall it seems that pain assessment is still limited in rabbits. The lack of multimodal composite pain scales specific for rabbits makes this task even more challenging.

  • rabbits
  • pain
  • analgesia
  • pain scale
  • behavioural indicators
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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee (FREC) of the University of Bristol.

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

  • Data availability statement No data are available. deidentified participant data.faculty research ethics committee ID 66205.

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