Behavioural effects of ovariohysterectomy and oral administration of meloxicam in laboratory housed rabbits

Matthew C. Leach, Sandra Allweiler, Claire Richardson, John V. Roughan, Ruediger Narbe, Paul A. Flecknell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


This study aimed to develop a behaviour-based pain assessment system for rabbits following ovariohysterectomy. Behaviour was analysed to assess the severity and duration of pain induced and determine the effects of administration of meloxicam. The results suggest that pain associated with ovariohysterectomy induced changes in the frequency and duration of a number of behaviours. The most indicative was inactive pain behaviour, which was observed very infrequently prior to surgery compared to very frequently immediately following surgery. This strongly suggests that this increase is a direct response to the surgical pain and/or stress. The frequency of inactive pain behaviour also decreased over the four days post-surgery suggesting that pain is decreasing during this time. High dose meloxicam (initial 1 mg/kg followed 0.5 mg/kg/day) induced some degree of analgesia. However, higher doses of meloxicam or in combination with an opioid may be required to provide consistent analgesia in rabbits following soft-tissue surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-347
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in veterinary science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH, Germany. We would like to thank the staff of CBC for their assistance and care of the rabbits.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Behaviour
  • Meloxicam
  • Ovariohysterectomy
  • Pain
  • Rabbit


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