Preliminary study on attitudes, opinions and knowledge of Italian veterinarians with regard to abdominal visceral pain in dogs



      To determine the attitudes, opinions and knowledge of Italian veterinarians regarding abdominal visceral pain in canine practice.

      Study design

      Prospective online survey.


      An online questionnaire was created on a Google Form spreadsheet and the weblink was circulated to Italian veterinarians on several mailing lists. The questionnaire, which was available between November 2012 and July 2013, comprised 18 closed, semi-closed and open questions divided into five sections (aetiology, recognition and assessment, drug choices for canine visceral pain, general knowledge about pain management and desire for further education, and demographic information).


      A total of 527 responses to the questionnaire were completed. Pancreatitis (19%), gastroenteritis (17%) and gastrointestinal obstructions or foreign bodies (9%) were highlighted as the most frequent causes of abdominal visceral pain. Posture, gait and movement changes (32%) and physiological changes (31%) were commonly quoted for pain recognition and assessment. Most respondents (74%) did not use pain scoring systems. Pancreatitis and peritonitis were considered the most painful abdominal conditions. Opioids (40%), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (21%) and tramadol (20%) were cited as drugs for the management of visceral pain. A large percentage of respondents (97%) believed that their knowledge regarding pain management required improvement. There is practitioner interest for more continuing education in the subject. Most respondents were women (66%), aged between 25 and 40 years (57%). Internal medicine (56%), surgery (34%) and anaesthesiology (29%) were the main three speciality areas of interest in this study.

      Conclusions and clinical relevance

      This online survey represents the opinion of a small number of Italian veterinarians regarding the assessment and treatment of canine abdominal visceral pain. The results show that Italian veterinarians are aware of the main causes and clinical signs of canine visceral pain. Pain-scoring systems are not often used for the recognition and assessment of pain; however, according to these veterinarians, visceral pain is commonly diagnosed.


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