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Owners' perceptions of quality of life in geriatric horses: a cross-sectional study

By J. L. Ireland, P. D. Clegg, C. M. McGowan, J. S. Duncan, S. McCall, L. Platt, G. L. Pinchbeck

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Abstract

Quality of life (QoL) is increasingly recognised as a more important measure of treatment success than prolongation of life. Assessment of QoL may aid decision-making for treatment or euthanasia. This study aimed to evaluate owners' perceptions of factors affecting their horse's QoL and those factors that may contribute to their decision-making process for treatment or euthanasia of geriatric horses. A cross-sectional study was conducted, surveying a randomly selected sample of veterinary registered owners (n=1,144) with horses aged >=15 years, using a self-administered postal questionnaire. A section of this questionnaire contained 16 mixed-mode questions about the horse's QoL and factors influencing decisions on treatment. Horses from the cross-sectional survey were enrolled in a longitudinal study and, for cases of euthanasia, a further telephone questionnaire was completed to investigate factors influencing the owner's decision. Owners reported that the majority of geriatric animals enjoyed a high QoL, with 95% of owners rating their horse's QoL as good or excellent on an average day. However, increasing age corresponded negatively with many of the health-related QoL factors. Owners considered long-term diseases that cause chronic pain to affect their animal's QoL more than a disease causing a single episode of acute pain. The most important factors influencing choice of treatment options for a severe illness or injury were QoL after procedure, life-threatening disorders, painful/stressful procedures and veterinary advice. In conclusion, owner ratings and perceptions of factors affecting QoL of geriatric horses may prove useful in the development of a QoL assessment tool for ageing horses.

Date 2011
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 483-495
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Centre for Preventive Medicine, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket CB8 7UU, UK. jo.ireland@aht.org.uk
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Tags
  1. Age
  2. Aging
  3. Animal diseases
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Euthanasia
  8. Feet
  9. Horses
  10. Longitudinal studies
  11. Mammals
  12. Pain
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. perceptions
  15. Quality of life
  16. Questionnaires
  17. Stress
  18. surveys
  19. trauma
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed