First, choose a system that the whole team will use, says Dr. Robin Downing, DAAPM, owner of Windsor Veterinary Clinic and The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, Colo. While there are a lot of systems to choose from—visual analogue scale, owner-based assessments, composite measures pain score—there's no golden standard, she says. So expect some trial and error while your team looks for the best fit. For examples of pain scoring options, click here.
Once you pick a plan to try, schedule a team meeting to go over the system. "Everyone on the team needs to know how to look for and score pain," Dr. Downing says. "At meetings, develop key messages or vocabulary to use internally and with clients. Role play how to recognize and assess pain." To make sure the system is a success, keep everyone on the same page with regular meetings to review the guidelines.