Clinical Studies



Pain management attitude and practices: A survey of veterinarians and horse owners

A team of researchers at Washington State University is trying to better understand the factors that influence the discussion and decisions related to pain management in horses with a primary goal of improving medical care for horses.

Pain is a uniquely personal experience that cannot be directly measured in human or veterinary patients. As a result, the attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and education of veterinarians and horse owners are major determinants of the amount and type of analgesic medication provided to horses in response to disease, injury, or surgery. When adequate analgesia is not provided, the result is unnecessary pain and suffering for the horse as well as real, and possibly long-term, adverse effects on patient physiology and homeostasis. Understanding the factors that influence attitudes and beliefs about pain management will facilitate communication and consensus building in the profession and in the equine industry. This proposal seeks to investigate the attitudes and practices of equine veterinarians and horse owners as they relate to the perception and management of pain in horses. The results are applicable to all breeds of horses and to all equine veterinarians and horse owners.

Who can participate?

You qualify to be a part of this study as a "Veterinarian" if:

  • You are a licensed, practicing veterinarian;
  • You provide veterinary care to horses as a part of your practice (regardless of whether or not you also care for other species of animals).

If I participate in this project, what will I have to do?

If you choose to participate, this is what you can expect:

  • You will be asked to complete a 15-20 minute web-based survey that asks questions about your attitudes, beliefs, and practices related to pain management in horses.
  • In addition, the survey will describe horses with injuries or that have undergone various types of surgeries and ask you to estimate how painful you think those horses are.
  • You will be asked about your specific approach to management of routine castration surgeries and routine treatment of subsolar abscess in horses.
  • Finally, the survey will ask questions about your experiences with horses and your veterinary practice.
  • Your participation is confidential and voluntary – you will not be asked to identify yourself in any way. You may skip any questions and you may quit the survey at any time.

A similar survey is being distributed to horse owners. We will analyze responses and compare answers between veterinarians and horse owners to better understand how pain management decisions are made for horses. We plan to summarize our results and make that information available through horse industry publications and web sites, at professional meetings, and by publishing results in peer-reviewed professional journals.

If you are eligible and you would like to participate in this study, please click here to proceed to the survey:


Potential Impact for Animal Health

Results from this project will:

  • Increase awareness among horse owners and veterinarians of the importance of pain management;
  • Inform the development of guidelines for pain management in horses, and identify specific needs related to pain management education for veterinarians and horse owners.


Please direct all questions and comments about this project to Dr. Debra Sellon (