Tools of the trade: Emla cream


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

topical anaesthetic cream

by Dr Vanessa Reid, St Ives Veterinary Hospital and Positive Pets Behaviour Vet, NSW

Emla is a topical anaesthetic cream that contains 2.5 per cent lidocaine and 2.5 per cent prilocaine. It’s designed for use with humans but can be used safely off-label with dogs and cats.

What’s good about it

I use this cream frequently in a variety of situations. I like to numb the skin prior to collecting blood and before putting in an intravenous catheter. I also like to numb skin lumps before a fine needle aspiration. I use Emla for all my puppy vaccinations along with lots of treats. I believe that by giving a puppy a positive experience during their first few visits at the vet, it sets them up for happy future visits. 

If a dog is very anxious, reactive or aggressive, Emla helps reduce the fear and anxiety associated with pain. I’m a Fear Free professional who tries to minimise stress and anxiety during vet visits. One way of achieving that is by reducing pain for minor procedures.

I’ve been using Emla for years but have increased applications since I became Fear Free certified. It’s a very simple and effective product. If I go to work and we’ve run out, I’ll go next door and buy it from the chemist. I feel a little lost without my Emla cream—I really love it.

What’s not so good

It comes in a couple of different tube sizes and both of them are quite expensive. It can also take a little time to work so you can’t be in a rush. I usually apply the cream to the patient as soon as they arrive and then give them treats and let them settle. By the end of the consult, I can give an injection with virtually no pain.

Where did you get it



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