A retrospective study of horses investigated for weight loss despite a good appetite (2002–2011)
Article first published online: 4 SEP 2012
© 2012 EVJ Ltd
Equine Veterinary Journal
Volume 45, Issue 3, pages 340–345, May 2013
How to Cite
Metcalfe, L. V. A., More, S. J., Duggan, V. and Katz, L. M. (2013), A retrospective study of horses investigated for weight loss despite a good appetite (2002–2011). Equine Veterinary Journal, 45: 340–345. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.2012.00624.x
- Issue published online: 9 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 4 SEP 2012
- Received: 13.12.11; Accepted: 20.06.12
- weight loss;
- risk factors;
- prognostic indicators;
- epidemiological study
Reasons for performing study: Weight loss despite a good appetite is a frequent diagnostic challenge for equine veterinarians; however, there are few objective reports and little descriptive information regarding risk factors and prognostic indicators.
Objectives: To provide a descriptive epidemiological analysis of horses evaluated for weight loss despite a good appetite and evaluate relationships between historical and clinicopathological findings and final outcome (survival vs. nonsurvival) to identify risk factors and prognostic indicators.
Methods: Medical records of horses referred for investigation of weight loss despite a good appetite were reviewed. Data collated included history, case details, clinical and diagnostic findings, diagnoses and outcome. Univariable associations were evaluated with a Mann–Whitney U test (continuous data), Fisher's exact test (categorical or binary data) or Pearson's rank correlation (continuous data), with P≤0.05 significant.
Results: Forty cases met the inclusion criteria. Total protein (P = 0.004) and albumin concentrations (P = 0.0008) at admission were higher in survivors than nonsurvivors, with total protein (r2= 0.31; P = 0.002) and albumin (r2= 0.36; P = 0.0002) positively correlated with outcome. Hypoproteinaemic (P = 0.008, odds ratio (OR) = 12, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.99–72.4) and hypoalbuminaemic (P = 0.0009, OR = 28, 95% CI = 2.94–266.6) animals were at greater odds for nonsurvival. Body condition score was positively correlated with total protein (r2= 0.16; P = 0.05) and albumin (r2= 0.53; P<0.0001) concentrations at admission and duration of clinical signs (r2= 0.19; P = 0.03).
Conclusions: The severity of hypoproteinaemia and hypoalbuminaemia were related with nonsurvival. Body condition score and albumin concentration could potentially be used as prognostic indicators for survival.
Potential relevance: These findings highlight the importance of body condition assessment in conjunction with clinicopathological evaluation in horses with weight loss despite a good appetite.