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Article

Objective Assessment of Acute Pain in Foals Using a Facial Expression-Based Pain Scale

1
Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3584CM Utrecht, The Netherlands
2
Clinic for Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, 30559 Hannover, Germany
3
Dierenhospitaal Visdonk, 4707PE Roosendaal, The Netherlands
4
Anglesey Lodge Hospital, The Curragh, Kildare R56 YX98, Ireland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1610; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091610
Received: 18 August 2020 / Revised: 5 September 2020 / Accepted: 7 September 2020 / Published: 10 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a better assessment of acute pain in equines)
Research has shown that objective assessment of pain in horses can be performed by subjectively scoring facial expressions. So far, no studies have been conducted to develop a pain measuring tool for the assessment of pain in foals. In other species like pigs and sheep, facial expressions have been shown to be good indicators of pain in neonatal animals. In this study, a pain scale that is already available for mature horses (EQUUS-FAP: Equine Utrecht University Scale for Facial Assessment of Pain) was adapted to measure different types of acute pain in neonatal and older foals with acute pain based on facial expressions. The scale was based on a pain scale that has been shown to be useful in mature horses with various types of acute pain (colic, orthopaedic, and head-related pain). This pain scale was tested in 20 patients with different types of acute pain (colic, laminitis, postoperative pain) and 39 healthy control animals. The authors found that the EQUUS-FAP FOAL (Equine Utrecht University Scale for Facial Assessment of Pain in Foals) is a reproducible pain scale that can be used to assess pain in neonatal and older foals.
Pain assessment is very important for monitoring welfare and quality of life in horses. To date, no studies have described pain scales for objective assessment of pain in foals. Studies in other species have shown that facial expression can be used in neonatal animals for objective assessment of acute pain. The aim of the current study was to adapt a facial expression-based pain scale for assessment of acute pain in mature horses for valid pain assessment in foals. The scale was applied to fifty-nine foals (20 patients and 39 healthy controls); animals were assessed from video recordings (30–60 s) by 3 observers, who were blinded for the condition of the animals. Patients were diagnosed with acute health problems by means of clinical examination and additional diagnostic procedures. EQUUS-FAP FOAL (Equine Utrecht University Scale for Facial Assessment of Pain in Foals) showed good inter- and intra-observer reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.95 and 0.98, p < 0.001). Patients had significantly higher pain scores compared to controls (p < 0.001) and the pain scores decreased after treatment with NSAIDs (meloxicam or flunixin meglumine IV) (p < 0.05). Our results indicate that a facial expression-based pain scale could be useful for the assessment of acute pain in foals. Further studies are needed to validate this pain scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: pain; foal; facial expression; behaviour; equine; analgesia pain; foal; facial expression; behaviour; equine; analgesia
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MDPI and ACS Style

van Loon, J.; Verhaar, N.; van den Berg, E.; Ross, S.; de Grauw, J. Objective Assessment of Acute Pain in Foals Using a Facial Expression-Based Pain Scale. Animals 2020, 10, 1610. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091610

AMA Style

van Loon J, Verhaar N, van den Berg E, Ross S, de Grauw J. Objective Assessment of Acute Pain in Foals Using a Facial Expression-Based Pain Scale. Animals. 2020; 10(9):1610. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091610

Chicago/Turabian Style

van Loon, Johannes, Nicole Verhaar, Els van den Berg, Sarah Ross, and Janny de Grauw. 2020. "Objective Assessment of Acute Pain in Foals Using a Facial Expression-Based Pain Scale" Animals 10, no. 9: 1610. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091610

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