Horse owners are asked to spend a few minutes in May to take part in a vital online survey on equine health.
The National Equine Health Survey, run by Blue Cross in conjunction with the British Equine Veterinary Association, gives a unique picture of equine health in the UK – and plays an important role in monitoring endemic diseases. For the past six years, it has provided feedback from the owners of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules and allowed vets to identify the most common diseases and health problems.
Professor Josh Slater, from the Royal Veterinary College, said that last year, surveys were returned for nearly 17,000 animals. The six most notable equine disease syndromes identified as percentages of those recorded as suffering from health problems, were:
- Lameness 32.9% including laminitis (compared to 24.4% in 2015, 21% in 2014, 19.2% in 2013 and 12.9% in 2010-12).
- Skin diseases (sweet itch, mud fever, rain scald, external parasites, skin tumours and wounds) 25.5% (compared to 17.2% in 2015, 18.3% in 2014, 14.6% in 2013 and 15.2% in 2010-12).
- Laminitis 6.8% (compared to 6.4% in 2015, 7.1% in 2014, 4.4% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2010-12).
- Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID; equine Cushing’s disease) 6.6%. This is similar to the high prevalence of PPID reported in 2015 (6.4%) and 2014 (5.6%), and possibly reflects increased surveillance through sponsored testing programmes as opposed to true increases in prevalence from the pre-2014 surveys.
- Recurrent airway obstruction 5.6% (compared to 6.7% in 2015, 6.9% in 2014, 4.2% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2010-12).
- Back problems 5.5% (compared to 7% in 2015, 7.7% in 2014, 5% in 2013 and 3% in 2010-12).
Image: Bracken and Conker, ponies in rehabilitation at Blue Cross