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Horses and Ponies

Everyone likes to horse around – horses included!  Horses are a big thing in most areas that are close to us.  So, this weeks blog will focus on all things horsey!  We’ll start off by discussed some vaccines and blood tests that horses that travel need done annually.
     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.  The volume for the Rabies vaccine is 2.0ml that goes into the muscle of the neck.
     Rabies/Potomac vaccine – this is a combination vaccine has Rabies and what is known as Potomac virus.  Potomac Horse Fever (which there has been at least one confirmed case here that our office has dealt with) causes things symptoms such as mild colic, diarrhea and fever.  Horses contract the bacteria from consuming snails, mayflies and caddisflies.  While this vaccine does not provide a 100% guarantee, by following the guidelines on the label (getting their first vaccine, boostering that in 3-4 week, and following it up annually for the best protection) Merial, the company that manufactures the vaccine, does have compensation upon a positive blood test.
     Rhinopneumonitis – Influenza vaccine – this vaccine is most commonly called the Flu-Rhino vaccine.  For the best protection this vaccine can be given every 6 months because the length of time the vaccine stays in the system does not extend out to 12 months.  Rhinopneumonitis is caused by the equine herpes virus and most typically affect the respiratory tract but can also cause some neurologic issues.  Typical clinical signs include fever, coughing and/or nasal discharge.  It is spread through secretions from a coughing or snotting horse both directly and indirectly.  Things such as tack and people are easy ways for it to be spread from horse to horse.  The virus can live for up to a few weeks and symptoms can show up as soon as 24 hours but typically take 4-6 days to show up.  Influenza, which is caused by the influenza virus, is very similar to rhinopneumonitis.  Symptoms tend to affect the respiratory tract and are usually seen within 3-5 days after infection.
     Vetera Gold – the Vetera Gold vaccine is a 6 way vaccine that contains Easter and Western Encephalitis, tetanus, rhinopneumonitis, influenza and West Nile.  This vaccine is most commonly used in this area because it has such wide coverage over a variety different viruses/bacterias.  Encephalitis is a fatal disease that it better to be prevented than to risk the horse being exposed to it.
     Coggins test – the Coggins test is a blood test that tests for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA).  EIA is very easily spread from horse to horse and is definitely not something you would want your horse to contract.  EIA is a retrovirus that horses can contract from bloodsucking insects.  It is very important when traveling with your horse to have proof of the horse’s negative Coggins test with you at all times as proof that your horse has been tested and that the test was negative.  This is a test that needs to be done annually and mostly is done in conjunction with the horse’s yearly wellness exam and when vaccines are given.
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.  Our doctors here at MVVS are skilled in equine dentistry and have the tools to be able to sedate your horse, take a very good look inside the mouth and use drills to grind down teeth that may have hooks, points, or even ulcers in the mouth.  These hooks, points. and ulcers can be painful for the horse and cause problems for them when trying to eat or drink.  If you take a close look at your horse when it eats – does he/she drop 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.  Floating, the term used when talking about dentals for horses, can be done on a yearly basis to ensure the best dental care for your horse.
There are a few common illnesses that owners can run into with their horses:
    Colic – the easiest way to describe this is as a belly ache.  There are different types of colic and it is difficult to tell which one it is just by looking at the horse.  Gas colic is when the gases in the horses gut builds up and causes it to extend, which in turn makes the horse painful.  Horses can also get torsion of the large colon – this means that the large colon actually rotates on itself and becomes twisted.  This does not allow feces to pass and causes the horse to become severely painful.  Most times this can be detected by the doctor performing a rectal exam and feeling the twist.  This type of colic will need emergency surgery which would turn into a referral as our doctors are unable to do this at our clinic.
     Cushing Disease – also known as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, is most commonly found older horses.  These horses present with very long, sometimes curly, hair, not shedding appropriately, “pot-belly” appearance, increased drinking/urination, and decrease in activity/athletic performance.  There is a blood test that we can send out to a lab that can test for this disease.  It is caused by a dysfunction of the pituitary gland and can sometimes be associated with insulin resistance.  There is medication to control Cushings and if your horse turns up positive the doctor’s will be able to get them started.
     Equine Metabolic Disease/Syndrome – This disease affects the horses ability to properly metabolize carbohydrates.  It is most commonly seen in younger horses and some breeds include ponies, Tennessee Walkers, Quarter Horses, and Mustangs just to name a few.  There are some diagnostic tests that can be done to test the horse.
If you think have any questions or your horse/pony is due for vaccines/bloodwork, give our office a call and we can set you with an appointment with one of our large animal veterinarians!

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