Some horse things you need to know!
We are available to come to your farm to provide services for your horse. We have the ability to see your horse at our office – either in the parking lot or in the environmentally controlled stocks.
Rabies vaccine – just like dogs and cats, horses are susceptible to contracting the rabies virus. With some horses having full pasture turnout all day and night, it’s not uncommon for them to come across wild animals like raccoons, possums, and groundhogs. This yearly vaccine is given in the muscle of the neck.
Potomac vaccine – Potomac Horse Fever has signs including mild colic, diarrhea and fever. Horses contract the bacteria from consuming snails, mayflies and caddisflies. While this vaccine does not provide 100% prevention following the guidelines on the label (Initial vaccine, Booster in 3-4wks, and then annually) is the best protection.
Rhinopneumonitis & Influenza vaccine –more commonly called flu-rhino. Rhinopneumonitis is caused by the equine herpes virus and typically affects the respiratory tract but can also cause some neurologic issues. Clinical signs include fever, coughing and/or nasal discharge. It is spread directly through nasal secretions or coughing horse. It can also be spread indirectly via contaminated tack and people. The virus can live up to a few weeks. Signs can show as soon as 24 hours after exposure but typically take 4-6 days.
Influenza, which is caused by the influenza virus, is very similar to rhinopneumonitis. Respiratory signs are typical and are usually seen within 3-5 days after infection. This is a short acting vaccine and for the best protection this vaccine should be given every 6 months.
Eastern and Western Encephalitis is a fatal disease transmitted by mosquitoes. These viruses cause fever, behavior changes and neurologic signs such as circling, weakness, paralysis and collapse. There are easily prevented with routine vaccination.
West Nile is another virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. West Nile signs include fever, loss of appetite, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) which leads to nervous system sign such as circling, weakness in limbs, paralysis, collapse.
Tetanus – a bacteria that affects the nervous system. Tetanus is typically transmitted via a dirty wound especially a puncture wound. It can also be ingested and enter the body through an ulcer in the stomach. It is almost always fatal. Initial vaccination, booster in 3-4 weeks and annually thereafter is the best protection for your horse.
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) – EIA is naturally contracted from blood-breeding flies and can be transmitted from contaminated equipment, the re-use of needles and blood transfusions. Signs are widely variable from fever and loss of appetite, jaundice, anemia and sudden death. Horses that survive the acute phase then become carriers. They may have flare-ups after stressful situations. A Coggins test is a blood test that tests for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). A coggins test is typically required by boarding facilities, show rings and for travel. An annual coggins is recommended for every horse.
Deworming your horse in the spring and fall and rotating dewormers is no longer the gold standard of care. Many parasites have become immune to the typical dewormers and sometimes the parasite burden isn’t heavy enough to warrant treatment. Fecals should be checked twice yearly. A sample of the feces about the size of a large grape or 2 is mixed with a measured amount of solution. The feces and solution are then placed in a centrifuge tube and placed in the centrifuge. The action of the centrifuge will allow the heavier particles of feces sink to the bottom and eggs to rise to the top. Under the microscope, we count the number of eggs seen for specific parasites. Deworming is only recommended in horses that have a high parasite burden.
Dental care is very heavily discussed in small animals like dogs and cats, but it is also very important for our larger, four-legged friends. Equine dental care is more than just floating the teeth! Our doctors here at MVVS are skilled in equine dentistry and have the experience and tools for thorough dental care. Our equine dental procedures often involve sedation, thorough oral exam, power drill to grind down teeth that may have hooks, points. They are able to use radiographs to evaluate teeth below the gum line and the jaw. They can address any ulcers found in the mouth. Hooks, points. and ulcers can be painful for the horse and cause problems for them when trying to eat or drink. Have you noticed your horse dropping a lot of food when eating or do they tend to chew more on one side than the other? These could be signs that your horse is due for a dental exam. Annual dental care is recommended for a healthy happy horse.
Colic – A belly ache. There are different types of colic including gas, obstruction, enteritis and ulceration to name a few. Colic typically presents as unsettled, anxious behavior, laying down and rolling, biting at sides, minimal to no feces being passed. Gas colic is when the gases in the horse’s gut build up and cause the stomach and intestines to extend, which is painful! Horses can also get torsion of the large colon – the large colon rotates on itself and becomes twisted. This does not allow feces to pass and causes the horse to become severely painful. A rectal examination by the doctor can usually diagnose a twisted colon. This type of colic will need emergency surgery at a referral facility. Colic is an emergency. Walking your horse until the doctor arrives is the best thing you can do for them. Keeping them moving hopefully gets the gasses moving and feces flowing. The one time in life when flatulence is a good thing! Walking them keeps them from rolling which can help reduce the risk of colonic torsion.
Cushings Disease – also known as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, is commonly found in older horses. Cushings may be caused by a dysfunction of the pituitary gland or sometimes is associated with insulin resistance. These horses present with very long, sometimes curly, hair because they are not shedding appropriately. A “pot-belly” appearance, increased drinking/urination, and decrease in activity/athletic performance are also signs of cushings disease. Blood testing will be recommended to confirm diagnosis. Lifelong medication and monitoring via blood tests will help control this disease.