Evaluation of topical nalbuphine or oral tramadol as analgesics for corneal pain in dogs: a pilot study

Vet Ophthalmol. 2011 Nov;14(6):358-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-5224.2011.00883.x. Epub 2011 Apr 19.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of topical nalbuphine or oral tramadol in the treatment of corneal pain in dogs.

Animals studied: Fourteen male Beagle dogs.

Procedures: Dogs were divided into three treatment groups and sedated with dexmedetomidine (5 μ/kg IV). A 4 mm corneal epithelial wound was created in the right eye (OD) of all dogs. Sedation was reversed with atipamazole IM. All dogs received pre/post ophthalmic examinations. Post operatively, Group NB (n = 5) received topical 1% preservative-free nalbuphine OD q8 h and an oral placebo PO q8 h. Group TR (n = 5) received tramadol (4 mg/kg) PO q8 h and topical sterile saline OD q8 h. Group CNTRL (n = 4) received topical sterile saline OD q8 h and an oral placebo q8 h. All dogs received topical 0.3% gentamicin OD TID until healed. Dogs were pain scored using a pain scoring system modified from the University of Melbourne pain scale at 0, 1, 2, 4, and 6 h, then every 6 h by observers masked to treatment, until corneal wounds were healed. Treatment failure was recorded if cumulative pain scores were above a minimum threshold of acceptable pain and rescue analgesia of morphine (1.0 mg/kg IM) was administered subsequently.

Result: Four dogs in Group NB, one dog in Group TR, and two dogs in Group CNTRL required rescue analgesia. There was no significant difference in the incidence of treatment failure between groups (P = 0.184). Mean time to rescue was 9.16 h. All corneal wounds were healed by 84 h.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest tramadol rather than nalbuphine should be further investigated for the treatment of corneal pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Ophthalmic / veterinary
  • Administration, Oral
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Cornea / drug effects
  • Corneal Injuries*
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Male
  • Nalbuphine / administration & dosage
  • Nalbuphine / therapeutic use*
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / veterinary*
  • Pain Measurement / veterinary
  • Pilot Projects
  • Tramadol / administration & dosage
  • Tramadol / therapeutic use*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Tramadol
  • Nalbuphine