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

Res Vet Sci. 2009 Oct;87(2):336-47. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2009.02.001. Epub 2009 Mar 19.


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 1mg/kg followed 0.5mg/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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hysterectomy / psychology*
  • Hysterectomy / veterinary
  • Meloxicam
  • Ovariectomy / psychology*
  • Ovariectomy / veterinary
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control
  • Rabbits
  • Thiazines / pharmacology*
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Thiazines
  • Thiazoles
  • Meloxicam