Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
Send Cancel

‘Quarter of horses with back problems also lame’
London’s Hyde Park Police Horses lining up for National Equine Health Survey.
Latest NEHS offers insights into equine health

Over a quarter of horses with back problems also show signs of lameness, according to the results of the latest National Equine Health Survey (NEHS).

Out of the 5.5 per cent of horses who had back problems, 26 per cent also had signs of lameness. Although the results do not confirm a link between the two, it ties in with recent research carried out at the Animal Health Trust (AHT).

The Blue Cross, who carries out the NEHS in conjunction with the BEVA, calls this “one of the most significant findings” in this year’s survey.

Dr Sue Dyson, head of clinical orthopaedics at AHT’s Centre for Equine Studies, explained: “It is a common observation that horses with lameness stiffen the back as a protective mechanism and develop muscle pain which may be misinterpreted as a primary back problem. 

“We have shown objectively that abolition of lameness by diagnostic analgesia results in an immediate increase in range of motion of the back. The current data supports this close relationship between lameness and back pain.”

The survey suggests skin diseases are the most common health issue in horses, accounting for 31.1 per cent of all reported diseases. Sweet itch and mud fever the most frequently reported individual syndromes.

Lameness (including laminitis) accounted for 23.4 per cent of reported disease syndromes, making it the second most common issue. If laminitis were excluded from the analysis, lameness due to problems in the limb proximal to the foot was more common than problems in the foot.

The other three top health problems reported were:
  • Metabolic diseases (8.1 per cent). Equine Cushing’s disease accounted for 73.4 per cent of this figure.
  • Eye problems (7.6 per cent), with ocular discharge accounting for 54.2 per cent of all recorded ocular problems.
  • Gastrointestinal problems (7.5 per cent), of which 39 per cent were gastric ulcers.

NEHS is a snapshot survey conducted every year during May. This year, 5,235 people took part and returned records for 15,433 horses. Most horses were kept for leisure and hacking in livery or private yards. The majority were aged five to 10 years and spanned a wide range of breeds including natives, thoroughbreds and warmbloods. Over half (59) were recorded as healthy and 41 per cent had one or more health problems.

Professor Josh Slater of the RVC, who advises the Blue Cross on the survey, said: “NEHS is a unique initiative that has shown it is possible to generate reliable syndromic disease surveillance data direct from horse owners. NEHS has, for the first time, provided us with data on the disease problems faced by horses in the UK.”

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Campaign highlights ‘devastating impact’ of smoking around pets

News Story 1
 Leading vet charity PDSA has launched a campaign highlighting the ‘devastating impact’ that smoking can have on pets. The launch coincides with National No Smoking Day (14 March 2018) and aims to raise awareness of the risks of passive smoking and how to keep pets safe.

“Recent studies highlight that this is a really serious issue, and we want pet owners to know that they can make a real difference by simply choosing to smoke outdoors away from their pets,” said PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan. “We want pet owners to realise that, if they smoke, their pets smoke too.”  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
AWF named charity of the year

The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) has been chosen as charity of the year by the Veterinary Marketing Association (VMA). AWF is a vet-led charity, supported by the BVA, which aims to improve animal welfare though research funding, supporting veterinary education, providing pet care advice and encouraging debate on welfare issues.

VMA has pledged a range of support, including raising awareness and funds at their awards ceremony, which takes place on Friday 16 March, as well as offering marketing support through VMA marketing workshops.