Equine obesity and the role of the veterinary nurse

Equine obesity is defined as a medical disease in which excess body fat has accumulated to such an extent that it has an adverse effect on the general health of the horse. Obesity is a cause for concern, with one-third of the equine population in the UK being regarded as obese, although owner recognition of obesity in horses is an inherent problem, with many underestimating the body condition or weight of their horse. This is further complicated by the fact that with larger framed horses, or horses that are already overweight, assessing body condition is more difficult. There are a number of ways to assess body condition and the most practical means of regular assessment is body condition scoring, although this is regarded as subjective. As with many diseases and disorders, the cause of obesity is multifactorial. However, the most common reason for a horse to become obese is overfeeding, coupled with a lack of exercise. Obesity can be addressed with client education and veterinary nurses can provide advice on weight management programmes. However, these need to be tailored to the individual horse and owners need to recognise that they are entering into a long-term commitment.

Clarissa Seeley -

Stella Chapman -