Recognition of pain and use of analgesia in horses by veterinarians in New Zealand
New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp 274-280, Dec 2010
Article class: Scientific Article
Animal Type: HorsePublisher: Taylor and Francis
AIM: To explore attitudes towards and use of analgesia in horses by veterinarians in New Zealand.
METHODS: A postal questionnaire was sent out to 457 veterinarians identified as working with horses in New Zealand. Questions covered demographics and practice data; analgesic drugs available for use and used in practice; analgesic management of specific conditions including assessment of pain, drugs used, and frequency of cases; factors influencing the choice and use of analgesic agents; and attitudes and personal experience.
RESULTS: Ninety-seven questionnaires containing useable data were received, a response rate of 23%. Respondents’ demographics corresponded with those of the veterinary population at the time. Phenylbutazone, flunixin, xylazine, ketamine, butorphanol, dexamethasone and lignocaine were the drugs most commonly used. Respondents allocated pain scores with a range of at least eight points (on a scale of 1 to 10) between lower and upper scores for 13/17 conditions and procedures presented. Respondents identified analgesic potency and anti-inflammatory effect as the most important factors in their choice of drug. Sixty-three percent and 59% of respondents considered their knowledge of recognition of pain and analgesia, respectively, to be adequate.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of the survey indicate that analgesia was widely used for horses amongst responding veterinarians. However, there were a number of areas where there appeared to be a lack of consensus amongst respondents in their management of pain in horses, and these included assessment of pain, administration of analgesics, and, indeed, what constitutes analgesia.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: While analgesia of horses is widely practised in New Zealand, it would appear that a lack of consistency amongst veterinarians could indicate less than optimal pain relief in some cases and for some procedures.
KEY WORDS: Veterinarians, horses, pain, analgesia, welfare, New Zealand
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