Equine colic is loosely defined as abdominal pain. The causes are numerous, and the signs of discomfort (rolling, kicking at the abdomen, pawing, sweating) are familiar to most experienced horse handlers. Colic is one of the most common health emergencies, with an incidence of just over 9 cases per 100 horses in an average year. It is a leading reason for surgery and a frequent cause of death in horses.
A device known as the Cornell collar has been developed to reposition and hold the larynx and hyoid bone in place, thus preventing throat tissues from collapsing and blocking the passage of air.
For mares with known or suspected fescue exposure, managers should be sure the foaling is attended and a veterinarian is available. This is recommended even if mares have been treated with domperidone or fluphenazine. The attendant may need to cut the thickened placenta or help the mare expel a very large foal that is several weeks overdue.
Horses recovering from colic, surgery, high fever, or colitis can present many challenges for their owners, but one that is frequently overlooked is how to feed horses through the illnesses. While countless researchers have devoted years of study to determine the proper nutritional balance for horses of different ages and workloads, little has been done to outline proper nutrition for the sick adult horse.
Developed for human use in breaking up kidney stones, the technique has been adopted by veterinarians to reduce pain and stimulate healing in some types of injuries. "Extracorporeal" refers to the fact that the treatment is given from outside the horse's body, in contrast to oral medications, injections, or surgery that are considered more invasive.
Stumbling, lack of energy, reluctance to back, and stomping of the hind limbs may be early indications of a growing problem, but these signs are often overlooked or attributed to other causes. Shivers occurs most frequently in draft horses and warmbloods, although the condition has been seen in other breeds as well. There is considerable evidence of heritability. One researcher reports a higher incidence in stallions and geldings than in mares.
A horse that has had strangles seems to acquire partial immunity lasting several months to several years, and subsequent infections tend to be less severe. There is some evidence that horses allowed to recover on their own have a longer-lasting immunity than those that are treated with antibiotics.
Vaccination at an early age, and then periodically depending on management factors, is recommended to reduce the incidence and severity of disease. No vaccine provides complete, permanent protection, although research is in progress to produce a more effective vaccine. Owners should contact a veterinarian for advice on vaccinating young horses, pregnant mares, and horses that may have been exposed to EHV.
Eastern equine encephalitis, also known as sleeping sickness, is a viral disease that affects horses, some other animals, and humans. EEE occurs in the eastern half of the United States, most commonly on the eastern seaboard and the Gulf coast. It is also found in Central and South Americaand the Caribbean. A similar disease, western equine encephalitis (WEE) is present in the western United States.
Acute arthritis can be caused by injury or by bacterial or viral infection. Chronic arthritis is often osteoarthritis that results from the cumulative effects of day-to-day activity and stress. Old injuries, joint infections, and years of training and performance can all lead to the development of joint pain and stiffness. Poor conformation, hoof deformities, and problems with trimming or shoeing are other contributing factors. Probably there is some genetic influence also.
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