Lots Of Older Horses Are Dealing With Chronic Pain, But Their Owners May Not Know It

Almost all older horses suffer from chronic pain, and one veterinarian believes many of their owners can’t tell. Dr. Alex Bianco, clinical faculty in large animal internal medicine at the University of Minnesota told The Horse that chronic pain often factors into the decision to euthanize a horse but many horsemen fail to recognize it in its early stages.

Bianco cited a 2020 Swiss study that used 182 responses from experienced horse owners who considered their horses sound. When veterinarians examined the horses, they found that 100 of the horses in the study were considered a grade 2 or higher on the AAEP lameness scale, which is scored up to 5.

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Adding to the challenge, older horses are often not given lameness exams, which leaves them at risk of suffering from unmanaged pain. Bianco also pointed out however that the same Swiss study acknowledged horse owners have a high level of trust in their veterinarians.

Bianco reported that options to address chronic pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opiates, gabapentin, acetaminophen (though liver toxicity may be a concern) and ketamine. Therapeutic options are also available and include corticosteroid injections into joints, topical diclofenac, therapeutic shoeing, transecting ligament, tendon or nerves to remove pain, or surgical fusing of joints.

Bianco said the key to improved welfare for older horses is making sure owners know they need to have their horses evaluated by their veterinarians regularly.

Read more at The Horse.

The post Lots Of Older Horses Are Dealing With Chronic Pain, But Their Owners May Not Know It appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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