VET’S DIARY: Hot weather brings its own problems outdoors

The hot weather has ensured a great start to the school holidays, allowing everyone to enjoy the host of outdoor activities that Northumberland has to offer, writes Ed Chinn.

It’s been an excellent introduction to the county to our two new equine vets, Kerrie who joins us from Barnard Castle, and Amie from Glasgow.

Livestock appreciates a dry spell particularly after such a wet spring and horses are no exception. However, the sun and heat can also bring with it problems, some more obvious than others.

Many horse owners will be aware of the risk of sunburn and the need to protect those horses who have pink noses. This can be done by applying factor 50 sun block liberally onto the area or by placing a nose net when out in fine weather.

Toxins in some plants (eg buttercups) can make this pink skin, both on the nose and legs, very sensitive to the sun and its effects.

Once the skin is burnt and scabby it may need veterinary attention and restricting the horse to stabling through the day.

Flies are particularly troublesome at the moment, they are very irritating for horses but also can be implicated in spreading disease.

Careful management of wounds, even minor cuts and grazes should be performed to prevent flies exacerbating them, introducing infection and risking spreading sarcoids (a skin tumour) at the wound site.

This is one of the busiest times of the year for competition horses, all eyes have been on Northumberland with Burgham Horse Trials offering classes from grass-root riders up to the highest level of one-day event classes with international status, CIC 3*.

Newcastle Racecourse had one of its racing calendar highlights in Ladies Day.

Glorious sunshine adding to the excitement and the glamorous North East ladies’ appetite for dressing up!

No matter at which level horses are competing, it is important to ensure they do not get dehydrated or overheat.

Adding electrolytes to horse feed in the lead-up to competition and soon after competing can help prevent muscle problems.

Encouraging horses to drink will help to prevent dehydration.

Peppermint cordial added to water has long been thought to encourage horses to drink.

Cooling horses after strenuous exercise is very important, and simply pouring buckets of cold water over their backs until the water running off their abdomen feels cool is very effective.

There has been enough rain combined with the warm weather to keep the grass green. We have had many cases of laminitis this year. This painful condition of the feet often appears to catch horse owners by surprise.

As well as medical treatment, at least six weeks of confinement to the stable is necessary, which both the owners and the patients find difficult during the summer months.

Recently it has been shown that 90 per cent of horses and ponies that develop pasture associated laminitis have an underlying hormonal disease, the lush grass is the trigger factor.

Without dealing with the underlying cause treatment is much more difficult and less likely to be successful.

The most likely hormone disease is Cushings disease (the body is over producing cortisol).

There are subsidised blood samples available until October, to test for Cushings disease.

Please contact us for more details, Fairmoor Equine Clinic 01670 897597.