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Open Access Methodology article

Contact heat thermal threshold testing in beagle dogs: baseline reproducibility and the effect of acepromazine, levomethadone and fenpipramide

Marina Verena Hoffmann12, Sabine Beate Rita Kästner12, Manfred Kietzmann12 and Sabine Kramer12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery (Hoffmann, Kästner and Kramer), Bünteweg 9, D-30559, Hannover, Germany

2 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology (Kietzmann), University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Bünteweg 17, D-30559, Hannover, Germany

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:206  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-206

Published: 30 October 2012



In this methodology article a thermal threshold testing device designed to test nociception in cats was assessed in six dogs. The purpose of this study was to investigate baseline reproducibility of thermal thresholds obtained by the contact heat testing device, to assess the influence of acepromazine and levomethadone and fenpipramide in dogs. The relationship between change in nociceptive thermal threshold and the opioid′s plasma concentration was determined. Six adult beagle dogs received levomethadone (0.2 mg/kg), acepromazine (0.02 mg/kg) or saline placebo by intramuscular injection (IM) in a randomized cross-over design. Three baseline nociceptive thermal threshold readings were taken at 15 minutes intervals prior to treatment. Further readings were made at 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, 150, 180, 210, 240, 270, 300, 330, 360, 420 and 480 minutes after injection. A sedation score was assigned at every reading. Four saline placebo treatments were performed to assess baseline reproducibility. Levomethadone serum concentrations were measured prior and 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24 hours after drug dosing in a separate occasion.


Acepromazine did not seem to increase the thermal threshold at any time. After levomethadone there was a significant rise of the thermal threshold between 15 to 120 minutes at serum concentrations between 22.6-46.3 ng/mL. Baseline reproducibility was stable in adult beagle dogs.


The thermal threshold testing system is a suitable device for nociceptive threshold testing in dogs.

Thermal threshold; Levomethadone; Acepromazine; Plasma concentration; Reproducibility; Dogs