National CARE Day – Horse owners urged to mark National CARE Day (10 Feb) by sharing vital information with national equine study
National CARE Day – Debilitating equine disease, laminitis, can affect any horse regardless of age, size or breed. Horse owners from across Britain are being asked to register for the CARE study.
PhD student Dee Pollard reports, “Equine laminitis is ranked as one of the top health concerns by both owners and vets. Most horse owners will have either had experience of laminitis themselves or will know of someone who has. However, it is a notoriously complex disease and diagnosis is not always straightforward. There are no clinical signs that are present in every case and laminitis can initially masquerade as another clinical problem, such as an abscess or colic. This was confirmed in a study where we asked veterinary practices across the country to report if the laminitis cases they diagnosed had been recognised as laminitis by the owners. In fact, our preliminary findings show that laminitis may not be recognisable as laminitis to owners half of the time. This makes it even more vital to raise awareness about the disease, to ensure earlier detection, and to support research that helps find out how we can best prevent it developing in the first place.”
The CARE study, undertaken by the Animal Health Trust and Royal Veterinary College, funded by World Horse Welfare and supported by Rossdales Equine Hospital, aims to help unite the equine community to shed light on laminitis. And, on National CARE Day, Dee is asking all horse owners to get involved: “We need a collaborative effort by all horse owners, professionals and researchers to both increase awareness about laminitis and, in time, to help make early recognition of laminitis less deceptive.
“On National CARE Day we are calling on everyone involved in the equine world to join us in sharing our images and video on their website and social media, encouraging all of their friends and supporters to register for CARE.”
CARE is the first and largest web-based equine cohort study in Britain. Cohort studies have been extensively used in human medicine and are responsible for important findings that link lifestyle factors to an increased or decreased risk of developing certain diseases. The CARE study has set out to do exactly that for horses, in its mission to determine how common laminitis is and which equine lifestyle factors affect its development.
CARE members submit regular information about their equines’ health and management online. The initial baseline questionnaire covers all aspects of the horse’s environment, activity, nutrition and daily care. Following this, members are asked to check in on a regular basis and, if required, update these details. They also have access to an online weight tracker to monitor their horse’s weight and body condition. Many existing members find this routine of reporting information, especially the visual weight tracker, invaluable in helping make the right decisions to keep their horses healthy. Participation is open to all types, ages, sizes and breeds of horses/ponies, whether or not they have ever had laminitis.
Owners of almost 1,500 horses and ponies have signed up to CARE already, but a further 1,000 are needed. Their contribution will improve the welfare of horses throughout Britain and help us stop laminitis taking control. To get involved visit www.careaboutlaminitis.org.uk