• analgesia;
  • dogs;
  • pain scales;
  • pain scoring systems



The purposes of this study were to determine the prevalence of pain in veterinary ICU patients, to determine if there are predictors for patients to be painful, and to relate 3 commonly used pain scoring systems with each other.


Cross-sectional observational study.


The study was conducted in the small animal ICU at the University of Georgia Veterinary teaching hospital.


All dogs admitted during June 1, 2010–August 5, 2010 were eligible for inclusion. Exclusion criteria included patients receiving supplemental oxygen, comatose animals, aggressive animals, and animals with a zoonotic disease.



Measurements and Main Results

Twice daily, at randomly generated times, an independent observer assessed every eligible dog for pain using three different methods: the Glasgow composite pain scale (Glasgow), a visual analogue scale (VAS), and a simple descriptive scale (SDS). Six hundred twenty-nine observations were made on 230 individual dogs over a 63-day time period. Dogs who were receiving hydromorphone or were on the orthopedic or neurosurgical service were more likely to be described as painful. Overall, 22% of dogs were described as painful, and this was not different depending on time of day or day of the week. There was no difference in slope between VAS and Glasgow scores depending on order. The kappa statistic was 0.58 between Glasgow and SDS, 0.70 between VAS and SDS, and 0.47 between Glasgow and VAS.


In this study population, dogs undergoing surgery needed a more intense analgesic approach to ensure that they were nonpainful. The SDS identified the highest number of painful observations of the scoring systems, at the given levels for defining pain.