VetPartners and Dengie to tackle equine obesity crisis - Veterinary Practice
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VetPartners and Dengie to tackle equine obesity crisis

Vetpartners has teamed up with a leading equine feed manufacturer, Dengie, to tackle the issue of equine obesity

The VetPartners group, which has 37 of the UK’s most trusted equine veterinary practices and hospitals, is running a joint campaign with Dengie to highlight the dangers of overweight horses. The campaign will be launched on 1 March with the aim of reducing the number of equines suffering serious health issues, such as laminitis, linked to obesity.

According to VetPartners, its equine vets are seeing more overweight horses and ponies than ever and Dengie reports that calls to its helpline relating to overweight or obese horses tripled over a five-year period.

Throughout the campaign, VetPartners’ equine and mixed practices and Dengie will be sharing the message that a healthy weight means a healthier horse, and will be offering advice to help owners accurately assess and monitor their horse or pony’s condition. They will also be providing support for owners of overweight horses to help get them back in shape safely.

Each practice is nominating a vet or equine nurse to champion the campaign. Owners can sign up to receive a free guide to equine weight management that contains tips on feeding and exercise plus guides to fat scoring, weigh-taping and weight loss. Both VetPartners’ practices and Dengie will also be holding online and face-to-face events for horse owners and equine weight clinics.

VetPartners’ Equine Business Development Manager John Millar said that equine obesity has become a serious welfare concern. He said: “If a horse or pony is overweight it can cause significant health issues. It can predispose them to laminitis and EMS, and puts extra strain on the heart, joints, tendons and muscles, increasing the risk of injury.

“We are approaching the highest risk period for obesity, when spring grass will be coming through, and it’s concerning that a lot of equines are coming out of winter already overweight. We are urging owners to take a close look at their horse’s condition and if they are carrying too much weight to take action now.

“We are here to help them achieve this, and it’s our aim to keep the equine population as healthy as possible. We can help owners identify if their horse is overweight and work with them to create a suitable diet and management routine.”

Katie Williams, product and technical development manager at Dengie, hopes the campaign will help more people recognise when horses are overweight. She said: “Equine obesity is considered to be one of the UK’s most serious equine welfare concerns and the consequences are metabolic irregularities which predisposes horses to laminitis. Sadly, it is often the case that laminitis has to occur before owners take action to promote weight loss.

“One of the key challenges is that not all horse owners are able to tell if their horse is overweight and this is why it is so important that they have support from vets and nutritionists. They can then take appropriate action to promote weight loss rather than treating and managing a case of laminitis.”

Among the VetPartners’ equine practices supporting the campaign are Liphook Equine Hospital in Hampshire and Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons in Newmarket.

Jamie Prutton, vet and senior associate at Liphook Equine Hospital, said: “Equine obesity continues to be a significant problem and at Liphook we see a number of obese patients every week. As an eminently controllable situation we hope that by supporting the weight loss campaign we, as a group, can provide the tools and support owners need to promote weight loss in their horses.”

Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons’ vet and regular Veterinary Practice contributor Lucy Grieve, past president of the British Equine Veterinary Association, added: “Members of the equestrian industry are really starting to take stock of equine obesity and what a serious welfare issue it is. To see VetPartners invested in increasing owner awareness and encouraging engagement with vets on the subject, is really pleasing and inspiring. We hope this helps owners see this tricky subject as something we should all be talking about.”

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