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Milbourn Equine Vets COVID-19 (Coronavirus) 18 May Update

As of 18th May, there have been no new updates and we continue to follow the guidance below.

From 23rd March, for an initial 3-week period, veterinary practices have been physically open for urgent and emergency cases only, following government advice and professional guidance from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and British Veterinary Association (BVA). 

Following new guidance, from 14th April, some additional services can be offered to our horses, while still following COVID-19 guidelines and strict social distancing. Any additional services we can offer will depend on a risk assessment which considers the safety of our clients and teams with the welfare of your horse, to ensure the most appropriate course of action is determined. Of course, Milbourn Equine Vets continues to be physically open for urgent and emergency cases.

As we continue to comply with social distancing rules, our vets are working remotely to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is likely that fewer appointments will be available and that we will need to prioritise cases on clinical assessment and need.

Examples of services which may be possible:

Vaccination – We are now able to vaccinate your horse if it is due, or imminently due, its annual vaccination. Primary courses will also be provided as we consider tetanus vaccination to be essential. However, 6-monthly boosters for competition purposes are currently not being performed. We will use our professional judgment and discretion to assess each individual situation and advise you on the best course of action.

Colt castration – via a telephone questionnaire, we will assess your horse’s situation based on age and environment and decide if the castration is essential or if it can be safely delayed further. 

Artificial Insemination – will only be provided at our clinic, to enable us to better manage the safety of our teams. Please call if you would like to find out more.

If your horse requires one of the above treatments, please get in touch. 

We are currently reviewing how best to re-introduce some of these services while keeping you and our teams as safe as possible – so please bear with us, it may take us longer to answer calls or respond to email/web requests. If you have any other concerns about your horse’s health, please contact us to discuss how we can help you. 

Medicines and prescriptions – will still be supplied, however the process for ordering may have changed. Please call if you require more. 

We realise you may be feeling anxious about your horse’s wellbeing. However, we wanted to reassure you that we’ll do all we can to support you and your horse – should the need arise.

Guidance for visiting a practice:

If you are visiting a practice for an urgent or emergency appointment, to collect medicines or we are visiting your premises, the following precautions are in place to protect everyone who works in and visits our practice:

  • If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, had close contact with someone who has, or you’re experiencing symptoms (new persistent cough and/or fever), and your horse needs veterinary care, please call us. We will be able to advise you on how your horses can receive the care they need.
  • If you have been self-isolated with COVID-19 and have recently visited one of our practices or we have visited your premises, please let us know as soon as possible. This is so we can implement measures to protect our staff and other clients.
  • When you arrive, please wait outside and call our reception team to notify them of your arrival.
  • We will advise you of how we can safely examine your horse.
  • We request that you remain in your car or outside of the practice, where possible, to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff. We will call you during the consultation to discuss any appropriate treatment options.
  • When possible, schedule appointments in advance to not only reduce your wait time but also enable us to better prepare for your horse’s health needs prior to their arrival.
  • If your horse is hospitalised at our facility, we are asking clients not to visit at this time.
  • If you need to change any appointments because you are in isolation, please call us and we will rearrange these for you.

We are following the government’s most recent advice regarding the measures we need to take to help control the spread of COVID-19.

How owning a pet can be good for your mental health

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK, so we wanted to explore the connection between horse ownership and mental health. 

Thankfully, in more recent times, the conversation about mental health is more open and honest than ever. Members of the Royal family have spoken out about their own mental health issues and act as patrons to dedicated charities; celebrities and public figures talk about their struggles; and the medical profession is more educated and understanding than ever.

We hear advice on how to keep our mental health strong, and how to deal with negative mental health experiences in terms of physical behaviour but what about external factors? Here, we’re looking at how owning a horse can have a positive effect on your mental health.

Loneliness

A well-known cause of low mood and depression is loneliness. The companionship provided by a horse can help to reduce feelings of loneliness by having ‘someone’ to talk to. In extreme cases, horses have been attributed with saving people’s lives’ by giving them a focus and something to live for. Horses are great listeners and never talk back, grateful for attention and always appreciative when you feed them! They give unconditional love, which can be essential for people who feel alone.

Anxiety

Studies have shown that stroking a pet, such as a dog, can regulate breathing, lower blood pressure, relax muscle tension and slow heart rates; all signs of anxiety and stress. It can release serotonin and dopamine – happy hormones – which relax us and improve our mood. We believe this is true for horses too.

Structure and focus

Horses don’t care if you’re tired, miserable or don’t want to get out of bed – they need feeding, walking, and general looking after. Owning a horse can give the structure needed to get through the day when you’re feeling troubled. Caring for a horse can also remind us that we need to care for ourselves too.

Exercise and fresh air

If exercise is good for mental health, then owning a horse might be the push needed to get out and about. Horses require regular exercise and maintenance, which encourages their owners to exercise them even when they may not themselves feel like it. Owning a horse is a big responsibility, which needs to be thought about before making a commitment, but it’s a great way to stick to regular exercise all year round.

Be more social

Owning a horse can help people become more social too. With multiple horse owners on each yard, there are always plenty of other likeminded people to talk to. But all horses provide a commonality with friends and strangers; it gives us something to talk about and share stories about. With the love of horses on social media, isolated people can develop new friendships and relationships through a shared love of horses by sharing photographs and joining in conversations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please reach out to a registered charity or medical professional for help, support and advice.

75th VE Day Anniversary – Animals in War

On this VE Day, it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the war in Europe. The 75th anniversary will provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of people from all walks of life. It is equally important to consider the role animals played and how they were touched by war.

Domestic pets

As they do today, pets played a significant role in people’s lives during the war. When refugees escaped from Europe, sometimes they only managed to escape with their pets. 

With millions of people joining the war effort, charities such as the Blue Cross stepped up by looking after the pets of service members. Despite facing great danger during the war, the charity and volunteers across the UK continued to care for and treat animals. By 1945, they were treating 210,000 animals a year!

Pets also saved countless lives during the war. Here are just a few examples of pets who become heroes:

  • When an incendiary bomb was dropped through the roof of the house in which Juliana, a Great Dane, and her owner lived, the dog stood over the bomb and urinated on it, extinguishing the incendiary device. She was awarded her first Blue Cross medal for her actions. Juliana was celebrated as a hero for a second time in 1944 when she again helped to save the lives of her owners. After a fire started in their shoe shop, she alerted her owners’ family to the imminent danger. For this courageous action, she was awarded a second medal.
  • A little dog by the name of Fluff worked valiantly to save her owners. Fluff was buried with her owners in the rubble of their house after a German bomb landed on it. By continuous scratching, Fluff made a hole big enough to get out, which also acted as an airway for the trapped people. She stood outside the hole and barked until rescuers arrived.
  • The home of Peggy, a ferocious terrier, was blown up by a German bomb. Her female owner and a baby were trapped under the debris of the house. The dog worked furiously with her paws until she had made a hole through which the child could breathe. All three were saved and continued to live a happy life.

Dogs also played a direct role in the war. Dogs were trained to protect, patrol, find land mines, and even parachute behind German lines. Brian, a two-year-old Collie Cross, was one of the most-famous “paradogs” and was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for his service. During the D-Day Landings, Brian and several other animals joined the conflict in France and beyond.

Horses

Horses have had a long-established role in war. In WWI, nearly a million horses were sent to France between 1914 and 1918, and only 62,000 returned. In WW2, soldiers of the Yeomanry regiments were shipped from Britain to multiple battlefronts with their horses. In 1942, when the Yeomanry were given tanks, the animals became redundant. Thanks to efforts of a charity called Brooke Hospital, now simply known as Brooke, these war horses were provided with a second home. Read more about their work with horses by clicking here.

During the Blitz, citizens and charities worked to save horses impacted by German air force bombing. Among the many stories of heroism during this dark period, volunteers and staff members of the Blue Cross worked to rescue 11 horses trapped in a bombed building in the heart of London. Even though bombs were falling within their vicinity, they managed to save 8 of these horses.

The human-animal bond

The human-animal bond persists through war and peace. Volunteers and charities looked after animals despite a considerable risk of personal harm, and many pets actively safeguarded their owners.

As we look back on VE day, let us be sure to remember and appreciate the important role animals played and continue to play in our life.

Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month

May is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month. This campaign, led by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), aims to raise awareness of the importance of the role of the veterinary nursing profession to the public. 

Veterinary nurses are an integral part of the veterinary team at Milbourn Equine and are vital for the smooth running of any veterinary practice.  As well as providing expert nursing care for poorly animals, veterinary nurses also play a significant role in supporting horse owners in keeping their horses healthy.  They carry out essential clinical work and are skilled in undertaking a range of diagnostic tests, treatments and minor surgical procedures, with veterinary support.  Registered Veterinary Nurses have the technical knowledge and hands-on expertise to care for animals with skill and empathy.

At Milbourn Equine, we are extremely proud of our veterinary nurses. We have an amazing team who are dedicated to supporting our clients and their horses.  Even during this challenging time, some of our nurses are still working in-practice helping to support emergency and urgent cases. 

To find out more about role of RVNs in veterinary practice, or if you are interested in finding out more about a career in veterinary nursing, visit the BVNA website at www.bvna.org.uk/a-career-in-veterinary-nursing/a-career-in-veterinary-nursing.

Celebrate our amazing team with us this World Veterinary Day!

The Milbourn Equine, veterinary team is here for your beloved pets, all year round, and despite the current circumstances remain committed to quality and excellence in everything we do.

By adapting our ways of working we’ve continued to provide the best level of care in these challenging circumstances, while keeping the health and wellbeing of patients, clients and teams our number one priority. 

There’s one thing we can all agree on – our veterinary teams play an important part in your pet’s lives. Since World Veterinary Day was founded, 20 years ago, by the World Veterinary Association, we have recognised this day as a moment to stop and acknowledge all the care and treatment they provide for our pets all year round. There are many different people involved in running Milbourn Equine – so we want to thank all of our members of staff, who help deliver the services and care for our pets. 

Each World Veterinary Day has an associated topic, and this year’s theme is ‘Environmental protection for improving animal and human health” which applauds the contribution veterinary professionals have in supporting sustainability and protecting the environment. It also allows veterinarians to share their knowledge and raise awareness of how harmful actions towards the environments can affect both animals and humans too. 

Over the last month, your continued support and words of encouragement have been really rewarding – thank you for respecting our teams as they continue to do their best for both our patient and clients. 

Want to celebrate World Veterinary Day with us? 

There are so many ways that you can join in with the celebration, to show how much you appreciate your vet, and team – you may even be able to include your pet in the celebrations too! 

  • Share your story of how our veterinary team has played an important part in your pet’s life. 
  • Leave us a review on Google – we love receiving your heart-warming reviews.  
  • Try some agility with your horse.  

We’re sure you’ll join us, and celebrate our amazing veterinarians!

Tips on caring for your horse during Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown

Read our helpful guide

During this period of uncertainty and with many of us self-isolating and in lockdown, some of our clients have been asking questions about COVID-19 in relation to their horses and also how to manage their upkeep and general care during this time.  We have pulled together this guide which we hope you’ll find useful.

Daily care

  • Travel to take care of your horse is categorised as ‘essential’.  Therefore, if you are the only person who can look after your horse and you are not self-isolating, then you can continue to do this.
  • However, if you keep your horse(s) on a livery yard then it is vitally important that you follow any rules the yard owner/manager has put in place. These rules will have been based on a number of factors including:
    1. The safety of yard staff and horse owners
    2. The safety of any vulnerable people living at the yard premises or with yard staff
    3. The type of yard: either fully DIY or able to provide livery
  • If you are on a DIY livery yard, consider a ‘buddy-up’ scheme, where horse owners are put into pairs who then share the care of both horses. This reduces the number of people who need to attend the yard each day. Your buddy may also be able to help if you need to self-isolate at any stage.
  • Help to limit the number of visitors to the yard. Any visit by a professional that can be delayed, should be. This includes physiotherapists, chiropractors and saddlers. Vets are currently only undertaking emergency work following advice from our governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), where the welfare of an animal is compromised. Farriery and dentistry should follow a similar rule: if delaying a trim will have no negative impact then this is ideal. However, if your horse has very specific shoeing requirements that impact their soundness, then this should be discussed with your farrier and a visit may be necessary. You should only have the dentist if your horse’s welfare will be impacted otherwise.

Biosecurity  

  • Again, it is important you follow rules set out by your yard manager with regards to biosecurity
  • However, the general advice is:
    • Wash your hands regularly, particularly on arrival at the yard and before leaving
    • Maintain social distancing at all times
    • Do not share equipment (staff may need to colour-code equipment to avoid inadvertent swapping)
    • Do not eat at the yard
    • Avoid communal areas such as kitchens and tack rooms where possible
    • Minimise your time spent at the yard as much as possible

Exercise

  • Exercising of horses is not prohibited, but many factors affect whether a horse can or should be worked at this time
  • Does it break “essential travel” rules? For example, a sharer who rides but does not provide daily care would not be able to claim that travelling to the yard is “essential”.
  • Does it break yard rules? Yard managers may decide to ban all exercising of horses if they feel that this creates too much of a risk of spreading the virus. For example, the risk of horse owners coming into close contact in the tack room.
  • Would riding your horse present a higher risk of injury than ground-based exercise? While the answer to this is “yes” in almost all cases, it could apply more strongly to youngsters or green horses. The NHS is currently under massive strain, so we should all be trying to limit their burden as much as possible. If you decide not to ride, consider lunging, long-reining or free-schooling as an alternative.
  • If you do decide to ride, you must maintain social distancing at all times. This means you should ride alone (or only with people from your household). All organised sporting activities are currently banned by the government, so you should not be attending lessons.     

Enrichment

  • Turning horses out more may be an option for some owners, as a way to minimise the amount of time they must spend at the yard. It also provides exercise for horses who are not able to be exercised currently. Turnout provides excellent enrichment for horses, particularly if they have company.
  • However, if you are unable to increase turnout and are unable to exercise your horse, you may want to provide some enrichment in the stable. This could include:
    • Treat balls
    • Stable mirrors
    • Root vegetables hung on ropes
    • Licks
    • Radio/music
  • However, do bear in mind the increased calories that some of these ideas provide. You may need to reassess your feeding plan to accommodate them (see below).

Feeding

  • Every horse is different, so there is no firm rule on what you should or should not be feeding. You should do works for your horse, with input from your vet if necessary.
  • If your horse’s routine has not changed greatly, then you should not need to change their feeding routine.
  • However, if your horse is being exercised much less than usual or spending more time at grass, then some changes should be made. This is to prevent weight gain, laminitis and tying up. You could consider soaking their hay for 6-8 hours, reducing the size of their feeds or removing the more calorie-dense parts of their feeds.
  • The most important factor when altering your horse’s feeding is to make all changes gradually.
  • It is also worth ensuring you have two weeks’ worth of feed (and bedding) ready, in case you need to self-isolate. However, it is important not to stockpile unnecessarily.

As a group of practices, we are committed to delivering exceptional care to you despite these unprecedented times. The health and wellbeing of our patients, clients and staff is our number one priority. We are taking precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect our clients and dedicated staff.

Please ensure you call us or read our latest guidelines in case of an emergency.

Vaccination Update

As of 14th April we will be able to perform vaccinations and some castrations.

Our team will contact those whose vaccinations had been cancelled over the last 3 weeks but please also do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Please note we are available for emergency visits over the Easter weekend and our team will be back in the office from Tuesday.

We are anticipating providing our castration clinics again and will post dates of these soon.

Milbourn Equine COVID-19 (coronavirus) 9 April update

COVID-19 is much in the news, and some reports are based on fact, others speculation. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have some advice for you as a horse owner – or someone who spends a lot of time around animals – here’s what you should know:

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Human outbreaks are driven by person to person contact. – OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health – https://www.oie.int/).

While COVID-19 is still very much a predominantly human disease, the evolving scientific information around this new disease and the virus that causes it reinforces the need to treat animals as we do our family members; separating them from other infected individuals when possible and practise good hygiene when handling them, including proper hand-washing.

Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organisations continue to agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that, in natural settings, animals spread COVID-19 to people.

At this point we know that the virus that causes COVID-19 is most efficiently spread via human-human contact. We understand that there may occasionally be human-to-animal transmission of the virus (albeit without significant illness), so it’s important to treat animals as we would any family member and help keep them virus-free.

Additionally, following recent press, there is currently no guidance to keep cats indoors. Only when cats are from infected households or where their owners are self-isolating, and the cat is happy to be kept indoors, should this be considered.

Further information available here.