What is pain?
How is pain produced?
How can pain be assessed?
How is pain relieved?
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How can Pain be Assessed?

Principles of Assessment Objective Assessment Behaviour Subjective Assessment Systematic Assessment

Principles for Assessment

  1. Direct measurement of an animalís subjective experience of pain is not yet possible and assessment of animal pain is a value judgment relying on measurement of physiological and behavioural changes (indices).

  2. A wide range of indices should be used and their evaluation can be improved by training and experience. Those best able to make judgments will know the species, breed and individual animal well. However, it should be accepted that one person is unlikely to be familiar with all species and when possible should seek advice from those with the necessary expertise including those who normally care for the animal or species being examined.

  3. If experienced assessors judge that an animal is not suffering significant pain then this should be acceptable. However, if this assessment is not possible, the presence of pain should be considered and appropriate action should be taken. In this way, failure to treat animals with significant pain will be avoided at the, acceptable, cost of treating some that are not in pain.

  4. A distinction should be made between what pain the animal may be feeling and what the human assessor is feeling. Ideally, assessment of pain should not be influenced by the emotional state of the assessor. Most humans have a highly developed capacity for appreciating and sharing the feelings of other humans. However, this capacity is not only used appropriately to appreciate the feelings of other humans (when it may work well), but it is also applied to animals, when it may not be appropriate and even to inanimate objects such as soft toys, when it is clearly not appropriate.

Pain or pleasure? You decide...

Horse rolling in pain    Horse rolling for enjoyment

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                                            Revised: 20-10-08