Pain Rewires the Brain: Aggression, Arousal, Anxiety, & Reactivity


Pain is an important factor in many behavioral cases. When an animal presents with physical signs of pain, such as lameness or flinching when an area is touched, diagnosis is straightforward.

However, less severe pain is more difficult to recognize as the only signs may be increased anxiety, changes in arousal level, a tendency towards aggression or other more subtle behavioral changes, which may cause or exacerbate other behavioral problems. These changes are brought about by the brains' rewiring in response to pain and may never be associated with more obvious signs of pain, and so these patients often present as behavior cases.

Understanding these rewiring processes is the first step to being able to effectively onboard clients, with including pain as a key consideration. We will discuss the most common behavioral changes known to accompany pain, with a focus on Aggression, Arousal, Anxiety, & Reactivity.

These webinars are suitable for veterinary professionals, animal trainers, animal behaviorists, shelter and rescue staff and volunteers, and anyone with an interest in evidence-based behavior intervention.


About Dr. Kathy Murphy:

Kathy Murphy (BVetMed, DPhil, CVA, CLAS, MRCVS) is a veterinary surgeon and neuroscientist. She graduated from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons UK in 1999, initially working in mixed clinical practice before studying for two post graduate clinical qualifications. In 2009 she was awarded a highly prestigious Welcome Research Training Fellowship to study for her PhD, in Behavioral Neuroscience, at The Queens College, University of Oxford, UK. She subsequently worked in the USA as Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Anesthesiology at the Icahn School of Medicine NYC; and is now back in the UK, where she holds a clinical-academic position as Director of the Comparative Biology Centre at Newcastle University and Director of Barking Brains Ltd (a neuroscience outreach program for the animal behavior and training community). Her clinical interest has always been anesthesia, analgesia, since the age of 13yo and she has recently completed a residency at the European College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia. In addition to her primary career roles she was Trustee and Veterinary Advisor to the Rottweiler Welfare Association for 14 years, is a founder of Ethics First (a collective which lobbies for ethical decision making in clinical practice), is an Oversight Committee Member for the UK Dog Behavior and Training Charter, sits on numerous National and International boards, working groups and ethical review panels, and most of all loves spending time with her own 4 dogs.