Practical pain management in cows and calves

Keys to success

  • Johann F. Coetzee Department of Anatomy and Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506
Keywords: pain management, AMDUCA, gabapentin


Negative public perception of pain associated with routine animal management practices such as dehorning and castration is increasing. Preemptive analgesia can be applied in advance of the painful stimulus, thereby reducing sensitization of the nervous system to subsequent stimuli that could amplify pain. Drugs that could be used to provide preemptive analgesia include local anesthetics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, α2-agonists, and N-methyl D-aspartate receptor antagonists. Pathological pain states in cattle occur as a result of tissue damage, nerve damage, and inflammation and are frequently associated with pain hypersensitivity. Chronic pain associated with lameness is considered one of the most significant welfare concerns in dairy cows. Inflammatory pain associated with lameness responds modestly to treatment with NSAIDs, but neuropathic pain (due to nerve damage or neuronal dysfunction) is considered refractory to the effects of NSAIDs, but may respond to gabapentin. In this session we will review the analgesic drug options available for practitioners to use in the United States (US). These proceedings contain excerpts that were previously published in a 2013 (Vol. 1: pp 11-28) issue of Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice and readers are urged to consult this text for more detailed information on this topic.

Dairy Sessions