Pain and analgesia in pet rabbits within the veterinary environment: a review

Livia Benato*, Nicola J. Rooney, Jo C. Murrell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
4936 Downloads (Pure)


To provide an overview of pain and analgesia in rabbits with the aim of developing a more accurate understanding of these topics.
To illustrate and discuss the areas that have advanced in recent years and those that still require further research.

Databases used
Three key subject resources were used: Web of Science, Medline and CAB Abstracts.

Search terms including rabbits, lagomorphs, laboratory animals, pet, pain, surgicalprocedures, ovariohysterectomy, orchiectomy, castration, analgesia, opioids, and non9 steroidal-anti-inflammatory drugs were included. References from books and articles relevant to the topics were also included.

Rabbit medicine has improved over the last 20 years, but the literature suggests that pain management in this species is still inadequate and veterinary professionals believe
their knowledge of pain and analgesia in this species is limited. Assessment and quantification of pain in rabbits can be challenging in a clinical environment not only because
as prey species rabbits tend to hide signs of pain but also because there are no validated methods to assess pain except the Rabbit Grimace Scale (RbtGS) which is based on only one
rabbit breed. It is the current consensus that perioperative multimodal analgesia is best practice. However it is not widely used in rabbits. In rabbits, analgesia protocols and dosages reported in the
literature are often poorly researched and do not result in complete pain amelioration with the return of normal behaviour of the rabbit. The present literature on rabbit pain and analgesia
presents gaps either due to unexplored areas or insufficient findings. Further research should focus on these areas with the aim of improving the welfare of rabbits within a veterinary clinic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-162
Number of pages12
JournalVeterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number2
Early online date14 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • analgesia
  • pain
  • pain amelioration
  • pain assessment
  • rabbit


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