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Last updated January 1, 2014

Amphibian Pain and Analgesia

Karen Machin DVM MSc, Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 30(1):2-10



Analgesics are often not provided to amphibians because the presence and severity of pain may not be recognized in these animals. In addition, there is little information on the mechanism of action of analgesic agents in amphibians. However, amphibians possess appropriate neurologic components for transmitting pain from peripheral receptors to the central nervous system and antinociceptive mechanisms to modulate pain. They are capable of displaying behavioral and physiologic modification of pain systems in response to analgesic pharmacologic agents. Therefore, pain perception in amphibians is likely analogous to that in mammals and invasive, potentially painful procedures should be accompanied by appropriate analgesia and anesthesia. Although specific doses have not been established in clinical trials, basic research into the mechanisms and regulation of endogenous opioid systems demonstrates the potential clinical benefit for the use of opioids in these animals. Other analgesics such as alpha2-agonists, ketamine, and tricaine methanesulfonate have also demonstrated analgesic potential.

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