The most effective pain scoring scale for the practice should be selected based on the team’s specific needs. Regardless of the scale implemented, the importance of assessing spontaneous (ie, unprovoked) and evoked pain cannot be overemphasized.
Successful implementation in the practice requires training all individuals involved in pain assessment (ie, veterinarians, veterinary nurses, veterinary assistants) and consistency in application. AAHA recommends that pain be assessed on all patient visits, including outpatients.8 Pain should be assessed in every patient after temperature, pulse, and respiration. Postoperative patients should be evaluated for pain hourly for the first 4 to 6 hours after surgery, considering mentation and anesthetics, then every 4 to 6 hours until discharge.
Trigger points for therapeutic interventions should be determined for the pain scale that is implemented. For example, a score >6 on the GCMPS or a moderate or higher score on an SDS should trigger an intervention. Therapeutic interventions may be pharmacologic (eg, opioid, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) or nonpharmacologic (eg, positioning/padding adjustment, walk to allow urination or defecation, ice or heat pack, integrative therapy).