There are many ways in which pain in animals can be measured and these are based on a variety of phenomena that are related to either the perception of pain or alterations in physical or behavioural features of the animal that are caused by that pain. The features of pain that are most useful for assessment in clinical environments are not always the best to use in a research environment. This is because the aims and objectives of the two settings are different and so whilst particular techniques will have the same advantages and disadvantages in clinical and research environments, these considerations may become more or less of a drawback when moving from one environment to the other. For example, a simple descriptive pain scale has a number of advantages and disadvantages. In a clinical setting the advantages are very useful and the disadvantages are less relevant, but in a research environment the advantages are less important and the disadvantages can become more problematic. This paper will focus on pain in the research environment and after a brief revision of the pathophysiological systems involved will attempt to outline the major advantages and disadvantages of the more commonly used measurement techniques that have been used for studies in the area of pain perception and analgesia. This paper is expanded from a conference proceedings paper presented at the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Conference in San Diego, USA.
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