A prospective, observational, cross-sectional study documenting the prevalence of pain in dogs presented to the emergency service of a veterinary teaching hospital and their handling (times to triage, examination, treatment) was conducted. Pain was assessed and compared using a validated and an unvalidated pain assessment scale. Sedation was monitored using a validated scale. A first evaluation was completed in 109 dogs. A second evaluation was completed for 95 dogs: 36 (38%) were identified as painful and 53% (19/36) were provided analgesia in the clinic. The remainder either did not receive analgesia (6/36, 17%) or were prescribed an analgesic for administration at home (11/36, 31%). Of dogs receiving analgesia in the clinic, most showed a decrease in pain score (15/19, 79%). Pain assessment scales were positively correlated ( = 0.69, < 0.0001) but the unvalidated scale was insensitive in discriminating changes. Between painful and non-painful dogs, progression did not differ: admission to treatment [ = 0.96, 95% confidence interval (CI): -23 to 22 minutes] and examination to treatment ( = 0.73, 95% CI: 14 to 20 minutes). Suboptimal analgesic use suggests focused training in pain assessment and analgesic use guided by a validated pain assessment scale, is warranted.