Analgesia in cattle, in diseases that usually cause pain, is one of the bases of animal welfare , pain, in addition to its bioethical implications, has an economic and health impact on animals and has a great impact on production .

It is necessary that all agents related to production animals know how to identify the manifestations of pain in animals and, where appropriate, know the specific treatment procedures for ruminants, in order to reduce, treat or avoid pain in our management.


Traditionally, the presence of pain has been assessed when there is an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure.

But one of the most important aspects is the identification of the manifestations of pain in the different species, in particular ruminants , which are not always easy to interpret, they can present:

absent attitude, both in the gaze and in the isolation of the other animals, they also tend to direct their gaze towards the affected area, attempt to protect the affected area or limb, repetitive movements, lack of appetite or alteration of eating habits, repeated attempts to get high in lateral decubitus, lack of rest, vocalization and tail movements (George, 2003).

The measurement of the level of corticosteroids in animals is an objective data, which allows to quantify stress / pain reactions.


The severe pain causes changes in behavior, changes in the autonomic nervous system, neuroendocrine changes and immune animal response, which can lead to injury self – mutilation, to a suppression of the system immune and decreased welfare animal, weight loss, decreased production, and eventually death (Anderson and Muir, 2005).

Several studies demonstrate the influence of pain on growth . A decrease in the growth rate of calves has been shown, without the therapeutic application of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in a preventive manner in dehorning (Faulkner and Weary, 2000).

Found levels higher cortisol and decreased food intake and increased scrotal swelling in bulls undergoing castration, within 72 hours if an NSAID preoperatively (Ting et al, 2003 is not administered; Zulauf et al, 2003 ).

The pain produced in hoof diseases is one of the most important health problems in dairy cows, due to the high incidence, severity and duration of foot problems, it is one of the most important causes of deterioration of animal welfare in dairy cattle.

beef cattle pain

Lameness is the most important endemic pathological process present in Europe, in terms of animal welfare and economic losses due to pain. (Galindo and Broom, 2002).

The lesions that produce continuous pain incapacitate the animals , reducing the consumption, the production, the manifestations of heat, in addition to the effects mentioned above, it is an important cause of reproductive failure of the bovine stallion in extensive cattle.

Chronic pain derived from foot, joint or spinal injuries in bulls is associated with a decrease in libido and sperm quality (Laflin et al, 2004).

The acute pain triggers an increased release of catecholamines and glucocorticoids that alter the immune system , processes regeneration and healing , committing the recovery of the disease or surgical procedure.

Failure to recover from the most frequent surgeries in cattle, such as cesarean section or surgical resolution of abomasal displacement, is related to pain, which prevents food intake and the normal development of tissue regeneration processes. glucocorticoid release can promote septic complications such as peritonitis and infection of the surgical planes.


The strategies for pain control are various and depend on the type of pathology process and the personnel who can apply them.

An example is the application of an NSAID , prior to a cesarean section, in addition to an epidural with a local anesthetic such as procaine together with alpha 2 Detomidine, accompanied by an inverted-L regional loco block. performed by the vet before surgery.

The combined effect of these techniques allows the performance of a more effective anesthesia , which allows surgery to be performed in a safer way for the animal and the veterinarian.

There are many drugs with analgesic effect , such as opiates, and tranquilizers (α2 agonists: Xylazine, Detomidine, Medetomidine, Romifidine), subject to prescription and veterinary use.

The family of non-steroidal analgesics , called NSAIDs : they include a large group of drugs, such as: Ketoprofen, Carprofen, Meloxicam, Flumixin, Ac Tolfenanico, the doses and time of action are very different

And that are characterized by producing an antithrombotic effect at low doses, analgesic and antipyretic effect at intermediate doses and control of inflammation at high doses (Weissmann, 1991).

They do not produce respiratory depression and do not induce tolerance or physical dependence . Its analgesic efficacy is limited and not dose dependent.

They are effective for the treatment of mild-moderate pain , and in some cases they can control intense pain with an inflammatory, postsurgical and colic component .

In conclusion, it is necessary to know: when, how long and what treatment is necessary to avoid pain in our animals.

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