Trail riding is popular with many horse owners. If a horse gets sick or injured while you’re a long way from the barn, veterinary help can be hours away. It will be up to you to deal with the problem, make your horse as comfortable as possible, and decide how to get back to a location where you can get professional assistance.
A new discovery about Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) shows that snakes may play an important role in overwintering the virus that causes this disease.
It may sound like a joke, but there’s nothing funny about the situation when a horse jumps or falls into a swimming pool and can’t get out. Immediate considerations are getting the horse out without anyone getting hurt and limiting damage to the pool.
Rattlesnake bites can cause serious health problems in horses, even death, so a veterinarian should be called immediately.
Colic surgery is costly, running into the thousands of dollars for routine procedures and much more than that if the horse’s condition is not straightforward or recovery is prolonged. Is surgery the right choice for you and your horse?
High doses of antioxidants, including natural vitamin E, should be part of the treatment regimen for horses having colic surgery.
A lip twitch can be helpful in restraining a horse for a simple veterinary procedure or other brief action to which the horse may object.
So what’s the good news about colic? The vast majority of cases either resolve on their own or can be successfully treated with pain medication and fluid therapy.
Horses don’t usually eat stinging nettle, but if they lie down or roll on the plant, glassy hairs from the plant’s leaves and stems cause a skin reaction characterized by wheals or hives and an intensely painful stinging sensation.
Biofilm is a term that has been used to describe a phenomenon found in slow-healing human wounds. The same concept has now been found in horses.
To avoid infection, ask a veterinarian how to care for the injury, and follow his instructions about bandaging, antibiotic ointments, and complications that may occur.
For horses with the right type of amputation, an artificial limb can allow many pain-free years in the pasture.
Researchers found that not all horses with severely swollen eyelids had injuries to their eyes.
How does a veterinarian choose whether or not to close a wound?
Soon after a horse has been exposed to smoke, tissue damage causes signs that include coughing, lethargy, elevated heart rate, nasal discharge, and fast, shallow breathing.
Take your horse's temperature a few times just to practice and to get a baseline of what his normal temperature is.
Representatives of four national horse organisations recently welcomed news that the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) will be signed in early March.
Enteroliths are mineral masses that form in the colon of a horse. Usually these stones build up in thin layers around a bit of foreign matter (a small piece of wood, wire, hair, or other material) that the horse has swallowed.
As horse owners put together a disaster plan and cope with difficult situations, one of the first concerns should be minimizing changes in all phases of management.
Hay that is stored properly retains most of its nutrients fairly well.
If you see classic signs of colic (pawing, rolling, horse looking at or nipping at flanks), what can you do before the veterinarian arrives?
Newborn foals may be affected by a number of problems, some of which have similar signs.
Veterinarians and horse owners can't always choose a clinical setting for procedures like difficult foalings or repair of serious wounds.
Double conception in horses is not unusual, although birth of live, healthy twin foals does not happen with any regularity. One or both embryos are commonly absorbed by the mare early in pregnancy.
Your horse stumbles. Does he need a trim, is he just being lazy, or does he have a potentially serious neurologic condition? A veterinarian should examine any horse whose owner is concerned about neurologic disease, but an easy ground procedure can give an owner a partial answer.
A horse that has lain down too close to a fence or wall and gotten into a position from which he can't get up is referred to as a "cast" horse. Cast horses sometimes panic and struggle, while others simply lie in the cast position until help arrives. The problem may be that the horse is unable to straighten his front legs, or get his hind legs in a position to push himself up, or both.
Severe discomfort may not be noticed until several months after ingestion of persimmons, so if horses with access to persimmons develop colic signs at any time, owners need to mention this possibility to an attending veterinarian.
Researchers have identified another in a growing line of genetic diseases affecting Quarter Horses.
Lameness and pre-purchase exams commonly include a flexion test of the forelegs.
A study in France looked at 401 foals from 3 breeds on 21 farms for the incidence of developmental orthopedic disease or osteochondrosis.
Many horses lead healthy and useful lives well into their twenties or even longer. However, health problems tend to crop up in horses that have been around for several decades. When a number of maladies hit at the same time, owners are faced with finding diagnoses and making management changes to keep their equine pals on the right track. Here is a summary of one senior horse's situation and how his owner sought advice to solve her horse's problems.
For a horse owner, almost nothing is more frightening to think about...and most horse enthusiasts have encountered this situation from time to time, either with their own horses or someone else's. It seems that no amount of thought or precautionary management can completely protect horses from the danger, and owners from the worry, resulting from an escape.
Older horses don't have to become underweight horses. If senior equines begin to lose weight, there is usually a reason for the change such as dental inadequacy, gastrointestinal inefficiency, immune dysfunction, or the stresses associated with pain.
Although the causative bacteria are naturally found in the soil and exposure is an everyday occurrence, most owners will never need to treat their horses for pigeon fever, botulism, or anthrax. These infections are not common, but they can have serious consequences. In some cases, an owner's awareness of the signs of illness might save a horse's life.
The white line is the narrow light-colored band visible on the underside of a freshly trimmed hoof at the junction of the hoof wall and the sole. White line disease, an infection that causes separation of the wall, may be seen first at the white line but actually affects the zone of contact between the hard outer wall and the middle layer of hoof tissue. It occurs most commonly in front feet but can occur in any foot.
Colic is a fact of life for horse owners. Chances are very good that anyone who keeps several horses for several years will encounter colic at some time. Mild episodes may resolve on their own before a veterinarian can arrive, and more serious equine abdominal discomfort can often be managed with medication.
Equine diseases, conditions, or problems are frequently referred to by their initials. Full names, a brief explanation of each condition, and management tips, if applicable, are given below.
A horse that lacks the ability to produce sweat in normal quantities has a condition known as anhidrosis. Such an animal is sometimes called a nonsweater or a drycoated horse. Horses that sweat lightly or only in patches such as under the mane, in the saddle area, and on the chest are known as shy sweaters.
Heaves and inflammatory airway disease (IAD) are important causes of allergic lower airway disease in horses. Horses with heaves tend to be older and have respiratory difficulty at rest (increased effort and rate of breathing, flaring of the nostrils, coughing, and mucus in the trachea and occasionally in the nostrils). Inflammatory airway disease primarily affects younger horses, such as those in training or recently put into work.
Evaluation of food allergies in horses can be difficult. There are several caveats that horse owners and veterinarians must keep in mind when interpreting results of allergy testing.
Few sights are worse than the tragedy of malnourished or starved horses. It is important to consider that not all underweight horses are the victims of abuse or neglect. Occasionally, horses may have or be recovering from serious conditions (cancer, inflammatory/infiltrative bowel disease, parasitism, colitis, surgery, etc.) that have led to weight loss, and their owners are doing all they can to help the horse regain its previous condition.
Serious kidney (renal) disease in horses is fairly uncommon. Clinical signs of kidney disease can be difficult to differentiate from other conditions but include lethargy, depression, inappetence, ulcers on the mouth or tongue, and edema or swelling of the legs and lower abdomen.
In order for cryotherapy to be effective, it must commence during the developmental stage. This is the time immediately after the horse has been placed at risk of developing laminitis but before signs such as lameness, bounding digital pulse, or hoof heat become apparent.
The horse's endocrine system produces hormones that are distributed throughout the body by the blood. Complex cycles regulate hormone activity, and many hormones affect the actions of others.
California researchers performed a retrospective study on the prevalence of cecal intussusceptions. An intussusception occurs when a segment of intestine pushes into another section of the organ, similar to the way in which a camera lens slides in and out of its casing, and remains fixed.
Most horses affected with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) are overweight and have abnormal fat deposits that include a cresty neck, fat around the tailhead that makes the tail look inset into the body, and fat pads around the shoulder, sheath, or udder.
Nitrate toxicity is uncommon in horses but can be an important problem in ruminants. Horses can be exposed to nitrates by eating fertilizer or toxic forages and drinking contaminated water.
Equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) or equine Cushing's disease is caused by an enlargement of the pars intermedia of the pituitary gland, resulting in overproduction of the steroid cortisol and loss of the normal feedback mechanisms that affect cortisol production.
Horses diagnosed with hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia (HERDA) often have skin-related problems, but researchers have uncovered certain eye disorders, specifically corneal conditions, that might also be linked to the disease.
French researchers studied 70 horses with Australian stringhalt from 2003 to 2008. All of the horses except one had a history of bilateral stringhalt, and all had grazed pastures containing the weed known as false dandelion or flatweed (Hypochoeris radicata sp.).
Colic of the large intestine can result from gas or fluid distension, obstruction (impaction or enteroliths), or twisting of the gut (as in large intestinal volvulus or displacement of the large colon).
A recent survey of nearly 1,000 equine veterinarians uncovered trends in the use of sedatives, analgesics, and anesthetic drugs.
Researchers continue to investigate the zoonotic transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The medical records of more than 100 horses revealed few adverse reactions related to plasma transfusions. The few reactions that were documented in the retrospective study involved foals less than one week of age.
Horses that have recovered from superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendonitis had more limited careers than control horses in a recent study.
Equine grass sickness (EGS) is characterized by polyneuropathy and ultimately death, sometimes in as little as two days following onset of illness. The disease is thought to be caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum, type C, a soil-borne bacterium.
Botulism is caused by toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Three types of botulism are recognized in horses. Adult horses usually ingest toxins produced by the bacteria in feedstuffs (sometimes referred to as forage poisoning).
Suppose that unexpected events- floods, fire, winter storms-play havoc with horse management. As horse owners put together a disaster plan and cope with difficult situations, one of the first concerns should be minimizing changes in feed management.
A pastured horse develops hair loss, itching, dermatitis, colic, laminitis, or even sudden death, and the owner is certain the problem must have been caused by something the horse touched or ate. The first and most urgent task is to have a veterinarian diagnose and treat the affected horse. The second, and possibly more difficult, problem is to prevent another poisoning occurrence, a challenge that involves identifying susceptible horses as well as finding and removing the poisoning agent.
The bacteria produce toxins that irritate the intestinal lining of the animal they infect. Some strains cause illness in horses, and others are responsible for infections in cattle and other animals.
Management changes related to exercise and diet have been of great value in helping some horses with muscle disorders, but other horses with similar problems have not shown a significant positive response to these changes.
While you can't know in advance exactly how to deal with each crisis that comes along, you can take a few simple steps now to minimize confusion, save time, and possibly avoid tragedy in the future. For those who own pets or large animals, the care of these creatures is also a serious concern.
There are a number of ways to describe or identify horses and to differentiate one horse from others that may be of similar appearance. Verbal descriptions, photographs, and drawings are a good place to begin. Microchipping is one of the most recent identification methods to come into popular use.
Following Hurricane Katrina it became clear that thousands of cattle, horses, and other livestock were in need of basic food and care. Tons of hay and pallets of feed were required immediately, and in enormous quantities. It was clear that no quick or easy "fix" was going to sustain these large animals throughout the months ahead.
Glycogen branching enzyme disease (GBED) is carried on a recessive gene and causes foals to be born dead or extremely weak.
The plant disease might involve individual kernels or clusters of kernels on an ear of corn. Discoloration of kernels is usually the first visible sign, with kernel caps becoming salmon-pink or a light shade of red. Once the signs develop, the pathogen may continue to spread on the ear, knitting a cotton-like growth that might eventually cover the entire ear. Complete coverage is likely to occur if moisture was trapped beneath the husk. Not all infected kernels, however, show signs.
A sound nutritional plan, along with careful attention from a handler, veterinarian, and farrier, can save many starved horses. Recovery may take several months, and during this time each horse must be evaluated and treated on an individual basis.
If a horse sweats little, access to a generous amount of high-quality hay and a salt block will provide sufficient electrolytes. If the horse sweats profusely or is allowed only minimal forage, an electrolyte product containing sodium, chloride, and potassium is recommended. Consistent supplementation with electrolytes may be just the thing to transform lackluster summertime performances into winning ones.
Some foals don't seem to recognize the mare and are unable to nurse. They may wander around the stall, getting stuck in a corner and being unable to find their way out. Others slip into frequent periods of deep sleep, have seizures, or make strange "barking" vocalizations.
At the present time there is no evidence that horses are susceptible to any prion diseases, and transmission to equines from infected cows, deer, or other species has not been noted. Some scientists, however, warn that many mammals are susceptible, at least under laboratory conditions, where infection has been experimentally introduced into pigs, monkeys, and other species.
Horses, like humans, come in a variety of body shapes. Some breeds and individuals tend to be "easy keepers," naturally assuming a well-rounded shape. Others always seem to look a bit thin and ribby, no matter how they are managed.
Many equine diseases, conditions, or problems are frequently referred to by their initials. Full names, a brief explanation of each condition, and management tips, if applicable, are given below. The list also contains a few diseases that don't affect horses but are nevertheless "hot topics" among livestock producers.
West Nile virus was first reported in the northeast United States in 1999. Since then, cases have been reported in almost every state and several Canadian provinces. Spread by mosquitoes, the virus can infect humans, horses, donkeys, mules, birds, and a host of other animals ranging from bears to alligators. Many infected horses are asymptomatic or show only slight fever or listlessness for a few days.
Skean, completely exhausted, lay motionless on the floor, breathing deeply. Milk once again flowed from her udder. Meanwhile, the veterinarians resuscitated the foal and gave him a thorough once-over, declaring him healthy except for a few fractured ribs. Skean gently rolled onto her chest, folded her legs underneath her, and offered the softest, most endearing nicker any mare could possibly bestow.
Raising an orphan foal is a formidable task. Often nurse mares are difficult or impossible to acquire during emergency situations, and bottle-feeding an orphan foal requires a significant commitment of time and resources.
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.
Research at The Ohio State University has uncovered evidence that the use of phenylbutazone, or bute, may hinder healing of damaged cartilage.
Shock wave therapy has been used in both humans and horses to pulverize kidney stones, often eliminating the need for surgery.
As West Nile virus continues to spread across the country, studies show that less than 1% of mosquitoes are infected in disease areas, and only about 1 in 10 infected horses' shows signs of illness.
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.
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.
A constellation of the finest scientists-veterinarians, agronomists, toxicologists, arborists, nutritionists, entomologists, meteorologists, and epidemiologists from all over the world-remain baffled a year after the onset of the crippling economic and emotional war waged in central Kentucky and its surrounding lands, the mecca of Thoroughbred breeding.
Some veterinarians provide dental treatment in addition to their other services. Others prefer to supervise a professional equine dentist who has the specialized training, equipment, and experience to complete the work quickly and competently.
Have an equine dentist do a thorough oral exam to make sure the teeth do not have sharp points or edges that are irritated by the pressure or position of the bit. In young horses, the shallow-rooted wolf teeth sometimes interfere with the bit and can easily be removed by a dentist or veterinarian.
Unlike some fungus or mold species that cause problems in stored grain, Fusarium grows on corn plants before they are harvested. Stress from weather or insect damage can make plants more susceptible.
Depending upon the severity of the disease, horses may have to receive nutrition parenterally (intravenously) during treatment. This is particularly true if a bout of anterior enteritis lasts longer than three or four days.
Some horses are metabolically inclined to be hard keepers while others have medical, psychological or environmental reasons for having difficulty in maintaining weight.
Some horses are metabolically inclined to be hard keepers while others have medical, psychological or environmental reasons for having difficulty in maintaining weight.
Insufficient caloric intake is the primary cause of failure to maintain sufficient body condition in horses. A variety of reasons may account for caloric deficiency. Some are easy to pinpoint and simple to address, such as parasite loads or teeth problems. Others are impossible to diagnose without euthanizing the horse and performing a necropsy. Physical problems of the digestive tract account for many of these problems, but there may be psychological and environmental reasons as well.
To anyone who has ever loved a horse, every healthy foal is a miracle. It is a joy and a wonder to watch them stand on their wobbly legs, take their first tentative steps, and find their first meal. While the vast majority of foals born every year find their way into the world in the usual fashion, occasionally a foal will arrive that provides a new definition for the word miracle.
Foals orphaned at a very early age should either be placed on a foster "nurse" mare or receive an artificial milk substitute. In either case, it is imperative that the newborn receives adequate quantities of colostrum. Obviously, if the mare dies at birth, the foal must be given colostrum from another mare.