It is difficult to define and recognize when birds feel pain, and it can be even more challenging to objectively determine whether a pain medication is effective in the avian patient. To determine the efficacy of an analgesic in any species, it is important to determine the pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) properties of the drug in that species. Integrating PK and PD data can also provide a basis for selecting clinically relevant dosing schedules for subsequent evaluation in disease models and clinical trials. PK studies of analgesic drugs are often insufficient to determine appropriate doses and dosing frequencies as plasma concentrations do not always correlate with delivery of analgesia.6,7
Anesthetic sparing studies, inflammatory models to evaluate repeatable behaviors or quantifiable weight bearing, and evaluating specific responses to a noxious stimulus can provide PD techniques for objective evaluation.5,8-12 Experimental PD models have been developed in chickens and parrots, but these models may not extrapolate to pain behaviors relevant to clinical pain. Therefore, the doses and dosing frequencies recommended in the published reports should always be critically evaluated case-by-case when clinically applied. The goals of this presentation are to discuss the current literature pertaining to studies in avian analgesia, with an emphasis on clinical applications.
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