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Pain Scale for Equines

Behavior: Considerable restlessness, agitation and anxiety
Signs and Symptoms: Most commonly cited characteristic feature of severe or acute pain. Simple and easy to observe, especially in the confined horse, although high individual variation. Has been quantified via activity budgets to assess pain associated with arthroscopy.

Behavior: Rigid stance and reluctance to move.
Signs and Symptoms: Commonly described general indicator of pain for a range of disorders. Horse may appear anxious and face away. Does not specify pain source or intensity. Likely to be a protective behavior.

Behavior: Lowered head carriage
Signs and Symptoms: Associated with depression due to chronic, severe and often unrelenting pain. Significant increase seen in post arthroscopy studies, although nature of surgery may affect results.

Behavior: Fixed stare and dilated nostrils
Signs and Symptoms: General facial expression of pain and fear, although lacks information on pain source clenched jaw or intensity. Seen in cases of chronic pain.

Behavior: Aggression towards aggression own foal response
Signs and Symptoms: Pain during parturition associated with foal, resulting in directed aggression. Infrequently reported, with numerous contributory factors engaged in final response.

Behavior: Aggression towards handlers, horses, objects and self
Signs and Symptoms: Strong evidence that this behavior emerges with pain. Reluctance to be handled or palpated resulting in aggressive pain response. Conditioned fear response may inflame the behavior.

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