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Ethical dilemmas in practice
Advice on horse worming
  1. Siobhan Mullan

    Siobhan Mullan works part-time in small animal practice, as well as at the University of Bristol. She holds the RCVS diploma in animal welfare science, ethics and law.


The dilemma in the April issue concerned a client who kept her horse at a do-it-yourself livery yard that had a blanket policy of worming all horses together (In Practice, April 2010, volume 32, page 170). The client had always been conscious of the need to worm her horse, but had recently become aware that some of the methods she had used in the past at the yard may have encouraged resistance. She required advice on what to do for the best in the future, and her horse was the vet's only patient at the yard. Gerald Coles commented that failure to keep anthelmintics effective could lead to serious welfare problems. A possible way forward would be to talk to the owner of the livery yard and explain why their policy of regularly treating horses at the same time was not recommended, highlighting what would happen to the horses if serious levels of anthelmintic resistance developed to all available drugs. Although people often felt threatened when offered new advice that questioned their husbandry practice, liaising with other vets in the area to ensure that everyone was ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ would strengthen the vet's case.

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