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A 2-year prospective survey examined the rate of euthanasia and factors associated with euthanasia among 1,070 horses and ponies in Great Britain. This analysis was part of a larger study of laminitis that enrolled owners of healthy animals who responded via a web-based survey. Most respondents owned one to three animals for an average of about 7 years. Native pony breeds were most common and while most owners (60%) reported their animals were in ideal body condition, a third of the animals enrolled had a previous history of laminitis.
Eighty animals (annualized to about 7.5%) were euthanized during the follow-up period. Laminitis and its consequences were the most common reason for euthanasia (25% of animals euthanized) followed by colic (21%), other causes of lameness (20%) and old age (20%). Pituitary dysfunction, navicular disease and perceived poor hoof quality were other factors that significantly influenced euthanasia decisions.
That laminitis would be a frequent reason for euthanasia in a larger survey study where owners enrolled to assist in laminitis research, and 25% of the animals had a history of laminitis is not surprising. Nevertheless, this study does provide valuable insight into the reasons for euthanasia in this population of animals.
— Pollard D et al. Prev Vet 2020;174:104833
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