Breed-Specific Pain Sensitivity Thresholds


CHF Grant 02797: Do Dog Breeds Differ in Pain Sensitivity?

Caddiell, R. M., Cunningham, R. M., White, P. A., Lascelles, B. D., and Gruen, M. E. (2023). Pain sensitivity differs between dog breeds but not in the way veterinarians believe. Front. Pain Res.

What can we learn?
In a survey of over 1,000 veterinarians, 95% of respondents agreed that dog breeds differ in pain sensitivity. However, until recently, there has been no scientific evidence to support this. 

Using two mechanical pressure tests and one thermal test (heat) applied to the carpus of client-owned dogs representing ten breeds or breed types, investigators found objective differences in pain sensitivity thresholds. They also completed emotional reactivity tests to see if individual behavioral differences influenced the pain measurements.

Results showed objective breed differences in pain sensitivity thresholds, even after accounting for behavior and reactivity. Breed rankings did NOT match those reported by veterinarians. Instead, breeds that were reported as more sensitive to pain by veterinarians were those more hesitant to approach a disgruntled stranger.

Breed-specific pain sensitivity thresholds were found in dogs. However, veterinarian-reported beliefs were more related to dog behavior. Additional study is needed to explore the genetic and physiologic differences that explain breed-specific mechanisms of canine pain. Veterinary professionals must be educated on physiologic and behavioral differences between dog breeds and how to best manage their unique health needs.

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