The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of tramadol and meloxicam in an induced, temporary arthritis model in ducks as assessed by ground-reactive forces measured by a pressure-sensitive walkway (PSW) system. Twelve ducks (Cairina moschata domestica) were randomly separated into 3 equal groups of 4 birds each: water control, tramadol treatment, and meloxicam treatment. Baseline measurements were collected by having all ducks walk along a 3-m-long PSW in a custom-built corral before anesthesia and induction of arthritis. Arthritis was induced in all groups through injection, under anesthesia, of a 3% monosodium urate (MSU) solution into the intertarsal joint. One hour after MSU injection, birds were orally gavage fed 1 mL of tap water (control), tramadol (30 mg/kg), or meloxicam (1 mg/kg). After treatments, all ducks were reevaluated on the PSW at 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 24 hours post–MSU injection. The difference in maximum force was significantly greater in the control group than in both the tramadol- (P = .006) and meloxicam-treated (P = .03) individuals. Post hoc comparisons revealed differences between control and treated birds occurred only at the 3- and 4-hour time points after administration. No differences were found in the absolute difference in maximum force between tramadol- and meloxicam-treated birds at any time point (P > .05). Results of this study support the hypothesis that tramadol (30 mg/kg PO) and meloxicam (1 mg/kg PO) improve certain objective variables in an induced arthritis model in ducks. Our findings also support studies in other avian species that determined that both tramadol and meloxicam are effective analgesic drugs in some birds.
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