The one who knows horses can help cats and dogs
Professor Gary England, a member of our Puppy & Kitten Expert Board, is a Veterinary Surgeon and Foundation Dean at the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. A lover of research, teaching, and practice in equal measure, Professor England is not only the head of the veterinary school at Nottingham but is also still, as he modestly calls it, a jobbing vet, doing one day of clinical practice each week alongside his teaching schedule. There are only so many hours in each day. May as well put them to good use.
Over his career, Professor England has seen reproduction and neonatology cases across all species. Cross-species practice is captivating – because of the differences and the similarities. As Professor England sees it, the study of one will always help another. While some species are completely different, we can still learn things about the physiology of one that can then be applied to another. And when an animal group is highly valued for any number of reasons, more funding is made available for real in-depth research.
One great example is the world of horses. In his previous life, Professor England spent 12 years running an equine reproduction practice, an experience he believes benefits the canine world. “There has been a lot of study time and financial investment dedicated to Thoroughbred horses and their reproduction because of the potential value of a racing foal,” he explains. “So, areas like neonatal care in horses are very advanced. We can learn from that wealth of knowledge and see how it can apply to smaller animals like cats and dogs.”
Professor England is also the head veterinarian for Guide Dogs UK – the charity providing mobility for the blind and partially sighted -- overseeing their breeding programme from a veterinary perspective and liaising with other vets. One of the largest breeding programmes in the world, they take care of breeding upwards of 1500 pups per year.
“We can learn things about the physiology of one species that can then be applied to another.”
— Prof. England, Veterinary Surgeon
Bringing this large-scale view and expertise to the Royal Canin Puppy & Kitten Expert Board spoke to Professor England. The role of maternal nutrition on foetal well-being and how it impacts the life chances of each puppy is of particular interest to him. As he says, “True for humans and lots of other species, you are what your mother ate. What you feed a mother, cat and dog included, influences the health of her future pups.”
The role of environmental chemicals in animal reproductive issues is also a driving force behind the research being done by Professor England and his team. They have published papers on their impact on cell function and animal reproductive issues, generating invaluable information that can help head off problems earlier on. A better understanding of the problem means the team can devise a plan detailing what can be done to address the issue.
Professor England continues to spend his days teaching the veterinary arts as they apply across a multitude of species. And any day spent helping cats and dogs to live healthier lives is a day well spent.