Influence of experimental protocol on response rate and repeatability of mechanical threshold testing in dogs

L.K. Harris*, J.C. Murrell, E.G.M. van Klink, H.R. Whay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Mechanical threshold (MT) testing is widely used to measure nociceptive thresholds. However, there has been little research into factors that contribute to the response rate and repeatability (collectively termed 'efficacy') of MT testing protocols. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the efficacy of a protocol using a hand-held algometer to measure MTs (N) in healthy dogs (n = 12) was affected by varying (1) the area over which force was applied (tip diameter), (2) rate of force application, (3) position of dog during testing, and (4) anatomical site of testing. The effect of these factors on MT and the impact of individual dog effects on both efficacy and MT were also investigated.Overall, 3175/3888 tests (82%) resulted in a measurable response. The response rate was reduced by using wider tip diameters, testing at the tibia, and testing when the dog was lying down (compared to sitting upright). Wider tips were associated with higher, more variable MTs (mean ± standard deviation) with values of 4.18 ± 2.55 N for 2 mm diameter tips, 5.54 ± 3.33 for those of 4 mm, and 7.59 ± 4.73 for 8 mm tips. Individual dog effects had the most significant impact on efficacy and MT. The findings indicate that tip diameter, dog position, and anatomical site may affect both protocol efficacy and MTs, and should be taken into account when comparing different studies and in designing protocols to measure MTs in dogs. The predominant effect of the individual dog over other factors indicates that between-subject differences should always be accounted for in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Canine
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Mechanical thresholds
  • Nociception
  • Protocol evaluation


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