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Leading veterinarians from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) warn that obesity is one of the biggest health threats facing horses within the United Kingdom.
The Telegraph reports, “David Rendle, a member of BEVA's ethics and welfare committees, said studies showed around half of all UK horses are now overweight, while research from the Royal Veterinary College found as much as 70 [percent] of native pony breeds were obese.”
Overweight horses are susceptible to a whole host of other medical issues, including laminitis. Laminitis can be a very serious health risk; The Telegraph reports that around 600 horses actually end up being euthanized as result of laminitis each year.
Rendle is not optimistic about the overweight-horse epidemic slowing down. He explains to The Telegraph, “Overweight has become normal and horse owners no longer appreciate what a healthy horse should look like. Show horses are often obese, so this is what people aspire to.”
Over the past few years, many veterinarians in the UK have reported that horses seem to be getting progressively heavier. Some attribute the epidemic to a lack of knowledge about horse nutrition, others attribute it to an inability of the horses to lose weight naturally due to human intervention—i.e. horse owners put blankets on horses during the winter, which prevents the body from efficiently burning calories.
One thing that the majority of equine veterinarians agree on is that overweight horses are becoming a very serious issue for the British equine population.
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