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Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract. 2016 Aug;32(2):355-67. doi: 10.1016/j.cveq.2016.04.011.

Welfare, Quality of Life, and Euthanasia of Aged Horses.

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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston, Wirral, CH64 7TE, UK. Electronic address:
Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance, Centre for Preventive Medicine, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket CB8 7UU, Suffolk, UK.


Duration of ownership strengthens the human-horse bond, affecting decision-making about the horse's welfare, quality of life (QoL), and euthanasia. Most owners consider their geriatric horses to have good or excellent QoL; however, increasing age is negatively associated with QoL. Management factors are important. The most common reasons for euthanasia include musculoskeletal disorders or lameness, colic, and nonspecific chronic diseases. The decision to euthanize is difficult, so the advice of the veterinarian and QoL are important. This article focuses on the human-horse bond, assessment of QoL, reasons for euthanasia, and owner experiences of mortality.


Geriatric; Grief; Human–horse bond; Mortality; Old age; Welfare

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