The American Animal Hospital Association’s position regarding animal analgesics.

Pain is a complex experience with physiologic and emotional consequences that can evoke a serious negative impact on animal health and welfare.

Due to both ethical and medical imperatives, and consistent with the Veterinarian’s Oath, the American Animal Hospital Association asserts that in all situations pain must be recognized and assessed, and strategies must be undertaken to predict and effectively prevent, relieve, or otherwise manage pain. 

The potential for pain as a result of injury, illness, surgery, procedures, and diagnostic testing must always be considered. Each patient is entitled to a well-formulated plan that includes anticipation, prevention, early intervention, and adjustment according to follow-up assessments and evaluation regarding response to therapy. These plans should be evidence based insofar as possible and otherwise be based on a consensus of expert opinion.

A multimodal approach is preferred, including both pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatment modalities.

A comprehensive discussion including pain assessment and utilizing an integrated, multimodal approach to pain management can be found in the 2015 AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.

Adopted by the American Animal Hospital Association Board of Directors October 1993. Revised October 2009. Last revised February 2017.