03114: Pain Catastrophizing: A Clinically-relevant Phenomenon in Dogs?

Grant Status: Open

Grant Amount: $109,129
Margaret Elizabeth Gruen, DVM, PhD; North Carolina State University
August 1, 2023 - July 31, 2025


Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: General Canine Health
Donate to Support this Research Program Area


In the United States, roughly 68 million veterinary visits are adversely affected by fearful behavior annually with negative consequences for canine welfare. Dog characteristics account for only a small portion ( The investigators believe it is critical to address this knowledge gap regarding what drives fearful behavior in the clinic and hypothesize that  pain catastrophizing may be the missing factor.

Pain catastrophizing is a cognitive and emotional response toward actual or anticipated pain, often characterized in humans by verbal reports and behavioral changes. People who are high in pain catastrophizing are at higher risk of pain-related interference in activity, development of chronic pain, and have worse health outcomes across a spectrum of diseases. In pediatric medicine, pain catastrophizing occurs in children and results in higher reported pain intensity scores and greater anxiety. Additionally, children’s pain experience is affected by caregivers who catastrophize about their child’s pain. Using the pediatric/caregivers model, the research team hypothesize that pain catastrophizing can be quantified in dogs using a novel experimental paradigm and is positively associated with owner catastrophizing about their dog’s pain. Establishing a measure of pain catastrophizing in dogs and understanding the owner influence on the phenomenon would be a major advance for veterinary medicine – specifically in pain management and behavioral health and welfare. Ultimately, the researchers work will improve health outcomes including surgical recovery and management of chronic pain conditions – both of which have been shown in humans to be negatively affected by pain catastrophizing.


Caddiell, Rachel M. P., Philip White, B. Duncan X. Lascelles, Kenneth Royal, Kimberly Ange-van Heugten, and Margaret E. Gruen. “Veterinary Education and Experience Shape Beliefs about Dog Breeds Part 1: Pain Sensitivity.” Scientific Reports 13, no. 1 (August 24, 2023): 13846. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-40671-y.

Caddiell, Rachel M. P., Philip White, B. Duncan X. Lascelles, Kenneth Royal, Kimberly Ange-van Heugten, and Margaret E. Gruen. “Veterinary Education and Experience Shape Beliefs about Dog Breeds. Part 2: Trust.” Scientific Reports 13, no. 1 (August 24, 2023): 13847. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-40464-3.

Caddiell RMP, Cunningham RM, White PA, Lascelles BDX and Gruen ME (2023) Pain sensitivity differs between dog breeds but not in the way veterinarians believe. Front. Pain Res. 4:1165340. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpain.2023.1165340

SCIENMAG: Latest Science and Health News. “A Dog’s Breed Can Affect Pain Sensitivity, but Not Necessarily the Way,” June 28, 2023. https://scienmag.com/a-dogs-breed-can-affect-pain-sensitivity-but-not-necessarily-the-way-your-vet-may-think/.

Help Future Generations of Dogs

Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.

Learn How to Help

Get Canine Health News:
Please leave this field empty
American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc

8051 Arco Corporate Dr.
Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27617

Tax ID# 13-3813813


© 2021 AKC Canine Health Foundation | Privacy Policy | Site Map

Site by Blackbaud, Inc.