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Could your horse’s facial expression tell you whether he has laminitis?

14 Mar 2018

A recently published paper titled “Using the Horse Grimace Scale (HGS) to Assess Pain Associated with Acute Laminitis in Horses” (Dalla Costa et al. Animals. 2016. 6, 47) aimed to investigate whether the Horse Grimace Scale (HGS), an equine facial-expression-based pain coding system, could be usefully applied to assess the pain associated with acute laminitis in horses. In this study ten horses referred to an equine veterinary hospital as acute laminitis cases with no prior treatment, were assessed at admission and then again at seven days after the initial evaluation and treatment. Assessment involved application of the Horse Grimace Scale as well as other more traditional methods to assess the laminitis and the associated pain. The authors concluded that the Horse Grimace Scale could be a potentially effective method to assess pain associated with acute laminitis in horses at rest because horses showing high HGS scores were classified as being in a more severe painful state using other methods of pain assessment. The next step will be for the authors of the study to validate the Horse Grimace Scale in cases of acute laminitis so that it can be used to measure pain levels, and support veterinarians in making appropriate treatment decisions. At TAL we think it would also be really useful to investigate whether the same scale could be used to identify when horses are in milder pain associated with more chronic laminitis...we will make sure we let you know if there are any further developments! Thumbnail