The clinical efficacy of EMLA cream for intravenous catheter placement in client-owned dogs

Hugo van Oostrom*, Toby G. Knowles

*Corresponding author for this work

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

18 Citations (Scopus)
497 Downloads (Pure)


To assess the reaction of client-owned dogs to intravenous (IV) catheter placement after applying a local anaesthetic (EMLA) or placebo cream for either 30 or 60 minutes.

Study design
Prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled, clinical trial.

A total of 202 client-owned dogs of various breeds.

With owner consent, dogs were randomly allocated to one of four treatment groups: EMLA 60 minutes, EMLA 30 minutes, Placebo 60 minutes and Placebo 30 minutes. After the cream was applied for the allocated time, an IV catheter was placed and the behavioural reaction of the dog was scored. The reaction score was analysed using a Kruskal–Wallis test followed by Mann–Whitney U tests of the multiple pairwise comparisons, with Bonferroni correction.

A large number of dogs, even in the placebo groups, did not react to IV catheter placement. However, the Kruskal–Wallis test showed an overall difference between treatment groups (χ2 = 11.029, df = 3, p = 0.012). The pairwise comparisons showed a lower overall reaction score in the EMLA 60 group than in the EMLA 30 and Placebo 60 groups (adjusted p = 0.018 and adjusted p = 0.044, respectively).

Conclusions and clinical relevance
This study shows that EMLA cream applied for 60 minutes reduces the behavioural reaction of dogs to IV catheter placement; therefore, this intervention can be advocated for routine use in veterinary medicine to enhance the welfare of dogs undergoing IV catheter placement.

dog; EMLA cream; intravenous catheter; venepuncture
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-608
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number5
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • dog
  • EMLA cream
  • intravenous catheter
  • venepuncture


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