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Abstract

Objective—To describe the demographic and clinical characteristics of a population of geriatric horses.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—467 horses that were ≥ 20 years of age.

Procedure—Medical records of 539 geriatric horses that were evaluated at a university large animal hospital between 1989 and 1999 were reviewed. Data collected included signalment, reason for evaluation, specific diagnoses, surgical procedures, inpatient or outpatient care, duration of hospitalization, and outcome.

Results—467 horses met the criteria for inclusion in the study. Horses that were ≥ 20 years of age comprised 2.2 and 12.5% of horses evaluated during 1989 and 1999, respectively. Pony breeds were significantly overrepresented in the ≥ 30-years-of-age group. Gastrointestinal tract, musculoskeletal, and respiratory tract problems were most frequently reported. Colic was the most common clinical sign, followed by lameness. Diagnoses made most frequently included pituitary dysfunction, strangulating lipoma of the small intestine, laminitis, heaves, large colon impaction, and gastric ulcers. Pituitary dysfunction was significantly more prevalent in horses that were > 30 years of age. Laminitis was significantly associated with the presence of pituitary dysfunction.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—It was difficult to assess association of age with illnesses identified in these horses. Demographic data and information regarding common diseases of horses that are ≥ 20 years of age are limited but will become increasingly important as this geriatric population increases. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:93–98)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To describe the demographic and clinical characteristics, management practices, and owner perception of a population of geriatric horses, and to compare these data with findings in a group of younger horses.

Design—Original study.

Animals—218 horses.

Procedure—Data were collected via a survey tool from owners of 165 horses that were > 20 years of age and 53 horses that were < 20 years of age.

Results—Compared with young horses, the geriatric group included a significantly greater number of ponies; geriatric horses were also more likely to have a history of colic, dental disease, tumors, lameness, and pituitary disease, but not laminitis, diarrhea, allergies, respiratory tract disease, thyroid disease, or fractures. Horses that had participated in Western equestrian disciplines were more likely to have a history of lameness. Among old horses, those with pituitary dysfunction were more likely to have a history of laminitis than those without pituitary dysfunction. Geriatric horses were more likely to have long hair and shedding abnormalities than were younger horses. Owners perceived their horses as old at approximately 22 years of age. In horses older than 16.5 years of age, age was a negative factor in the purchase of horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Geriatric and young horses share some similar health problems, but old horses have distinct health problems and veterinary medical requirements. The management and athletic history of horses may influence health as they age. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:99–103)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association