Objective: Very little information on the approach to analgesia in pregnant, nursing or very young animals is available in the veterinary literature. A review of the human and veterinary literature on the various analgesics available for use in this group of patients is presented. The unique physiological characteristics that must be considered when selecting analgesics is discussed.
Etiology: As with mature cats and dogs, the origin and severity of pain in this group of animals may be similar; however, differences do exist.
Diagnosis: The diagnosis and assessment of pain in pregnant and nursing animals is based on the problem at hand and is similar to other mature animals. The diagnosis in the very young, however, may be more challenging, but should be suspected based on history and clinical signs. Response to analgesic therapy is advised in all animals to confirm the presence and degree of pain.
Therapy: Various analgesics and analgesic modalities are discussed with emphasis placed on preference and caution for each group.
Prognosis: Management of pain is extremely important in all animals, but especially the very young, where a permanent hyperalgesic response to pain may exist with inadequate therapy. Inappropriate analgesic selection in pregnant and nursing bitches or queens may result in congenital abnormalities of the fetus or neonate. Inadequate analgesia in nursing bitches or queens may cause aggressive behavior toward the young.