Equine Euthanasia and What Comes Next

Making the decision to euthanize an equine companion is never easy. Even if the time may be right for our horse, it may not feel like the right time for us to be saying goodbye to our friend. The end of a beloved horse’s life can be a very difficult time. Not only are we faced with the loss of a companion, but decisions must be made regarding care of the body.

Beginning in late spring of 2018, most livestock removal and rendering services in our area began no longer accepting horses euthanized with the drug that had previously been used. The reason for this is to increase the safety of animal feed products, but as a result our livestock removal options have changed and may continue to do so as new regulations evolve. Please check with our office about current changes if you have any questions or concerns.

Some disposal options currently available include:

Burial: If you own land, you may want to have your horse buried on your property. To do so, you should research the laws for your location. Some counties prohibit burial, or if they allow it, there may be specifications about the depth and size of the hole, its location in relation to water sources, and how the body should be handled. Please look up local ordinances prior to burial. (Cost: $0-300)

Landfill: Horses may be taken to a local landfill (certain landfills only). This requires a special trailer and winching system for loading and unloading the body. Each landfill has its own regulations and limits on size and number of horse(s), and drop off times and days. Please call ahead. (Cost varies by weight)

Cremation: You can arrange to have your horse cremated with or without the cremains returned to you. There are two companies that service our area: Midwest Cremation Service and Brier Hill Livestock Removal. Both companies provide a pick-up service that will take your horse’s body directly to the crematorium.

Brier Hill Livestock Removal
847-652-4839
brierhilllivestock@gmail.com
($395-500 for group cremation or additional for individual cremation with ashes returned)

Midwest Cremation Service:
608-635-7270
www.mcsofwi.com
($1100-1600)

Livestock Removal: This used to be the most utilized option until laws about chemical euthanasia changed in May 2018. At the present time these services will only pick up if your horse is euthanized by gunshot or captive bolt or died of natural causes. Gunshot and captive bolt euthanasias are approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association as an acceptable route of euthanasia. These services do occasionally offer Saturday pickup.

Marshall Stock Removal
608-655-3439
($250-300)

Granite Stock Removal
920-566-2563
($250-300)

The doctors and staff at Lodi Veterinary Care understand how difficult the loss of an equine companion can be. We are available to discuss any questions, emotions, or concerns that you may have so please feel free to contact us. Here you will find a wealth of support and a group of concerned, loving individuals who understand the depth of the human-animal bond.

Hay Analysis

Hay is a crucial part of an equine diet in the Midwest, and its nutrition content can play a big role in what grain and supplements your horse may or may not need. When creating a nutrition plan for your horse(s), we recommend a hay analysis. A hay analysis is easy to obtain and can tell you a lot about the forage your horses are eating.

What information can a hay analysis provide?

Sugar content

  • The sugar content is key for horses with metabolic conditions such as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID, or “Cushings”) as these horses should ideally be limited to hay which is less than 10% NSC, the non-structural carbohydrates.
  • When limited hay is not an option, we often recommend soaking hay in cold water, which can decrease the NSC level by approximately 30%

Digestibility and consumability

  • Are your horses wasting a large amount of the hay you provide? The consumability may be low if so.
  • Poor digestibility can lead to “hay belly” appearance.

Calcium content

  • Calcium can indicate the amount of alfalfa in the hay (more calcium = more alfalfa)

Mineral content

Digestible energy

  • How much energy can be extracted from the hay

The Relative Feed Value (RFV)

  • RFV is the overall quality of the hay, graded out of 200
  • An average hay is typically between 95-115.
  • Keep in mind that not every horse (in fact many horses!) don’t need the highest quality hay!

Moisture content

  • High moisture can lead to spoilage more easily

Crude protein

  • Especially important for horses with impaired kidney function, as they can’t balance their protein as effectively

Another key reason to have your hay analyzed is to better determine how much grain (if any) is needed based on the horses’ demands and requirements. In other words, a hay analysis is crucial to properly balance a ration.

Testing the Hay

It’s ideal if we can sample a random assortment of 8-10 bales to get an idea of the overall quality of the hay. From each of those bales we obtain a cross-sectional “core” sample across a large area of the bale.

    

Lodi Veterinary Care provides hay sampling services as well as diet/nutrition analysis recommendations. If you’d like to schedule a time for us to pick up a sample or if you have any other questions, please give us a call at (608) 592-7755.

Strategic Deworming of Horses

Strategic-Deworming-of-HorsesThe way it used to be:

What is Strategic Deworming? 

Strategic Deworming involves determining a Fecal Egg Count (FEC) by counting the number of parasite eggs, and using that number, along with the specific identification of which types of parasites are present, to better select a dewormer. Only about 20% of horses harbor about 80% of parasites, so the same deworming program shouldn’t be used for all horses. 

Goals of Strategic Deworming:

  • Tailor deworming to the individual horse, time of year, geographic location, and exposure level. This means using the right dewormer, at an effective dose, at the best times.

  • Limit overuse of dewormers to prevent resistance. Resistance can be present regionally or more locally on specific farms.

  • Evaluate a dewormer’s effectiveness on a certain farm by checking a fecal before and after deworming.

  • The goal is NOT to eradicate all the parasites or to make every horse into a “low shedder”.

Strategic-Deworming-of-Horses-2

Manure management: 

Parasites are part of the normal intestinal fauna of grazing animals: horses and parasites evolved together. Actively managing horses (fences etc) causes an imbalance to this relationship.

  • By far the best parasite management practice is to remove manure frequently from pastures and pens

    • Compost manure before spreading on grazing areas.

    • Pay particular attention to remove manure from feeding areas.

    • Avoid overcrowding

  • Deworm new horses prior to introduction, and keep visitors separated.

  • Mowing and harrowing pastures: this exposes eggs and larvae to the killing effects of air and sunlight.  Works best when temperatures are at least 85°F.

  • Rotational grazing: allows larval stages to die before horses are exposed. Ideally combine rotational grazing with mowing/harrowing.

General recommendations for adult horses: 

Discuss with your veterinarian if the below protocol is a good fit for your horses. Many factors influence a deworming program including manure management, animal density, and general health of the horses. Please wait at least 4 weeks after most recent deworming to submit a sample for a fecal egg count.


SPRING: Check a fecal egg count

  • Low shedder (<200 epg): deworm with ivermectin

  • Moderate shedder (200-500 epg): deworm with ivermectin and recheck fecal in 4 weeks

  • High shedder (>500 epg): deworm with ivermectin now and repeat in 4 weeks, then recheck fecal 4 weeks after second deworming.

FALL: Check a fecal egg count

  • Low shedder (<200 epg): deworm with ivermectin and praziquantel combination

  • Moderate shedder (200-500): deworm with ivermectin and praziquantel combination and recheck fecal in 4 weeks

  • High shedder (>500 epg): deworm with ivermectin and praziquantel combination then deworm with ivermectin (no praziquantel). Recheck fecal in 4 weeks. If continues to be high, deworm with moxidectin.

  • If a horse is showing overt symptoms of intestinal parasitic disease, perform a fecal egg count and discuss a deworming protocol with your veterinarian. Moxidectin may be recommended to kill encysted larvae in these horses.

Tapeworms: 

Praziquantel is used to treat for tapeworms. Tapeworms do not show well on a standard fecal; however, in this area deworming with praziquantel once yearly is typically adequate. Praziquantel is included with ivermectin in EquiMax (recommended) and Zimectrin Gold. Praziquantel is included with moxidectin in QuestPlus.

For horses less than three years old:

  • If you acquired a horse less than 3 years old and it has no deworming history, please consult a veterinarian prior to deworming them for the first time. These horses should have an individualized plan for deworming. If a young horse contains a large number of parasites, they may be at risk for a severe impaction colic caused by die-off of ascarid parasites. This could require surgery and can even cause death.

  • Foals should receive at least 4 deworming treatments within their first year of life.

    • @ 2-3 months old, deworm with oxibendazole

    • @ 4-6 months old, deworm with oxibendazole

    • @ 9 months, deworm with an ivermectin and praziquantel combination

    • @ 12 months, check a fecal and deworm with either ivermectin or oxibendazole depending on the predominant parasite type seen.

Strategic-Deworming-of-Horses-3jpgHow do I submit a manure sample for a fecal egg count? 

It’s easy! All we need is 1-2 fresh fecal balls per horse. If possible, try to collect from the center of a manure pile so they are not dried out or covered in bedding, sand, or dirt. Place into a clean zip-lock bag and label with your first and last name, horse’s name, and date of collection. If you have a rough idea of when the horse was last dewormed and what product was used, that is helpful information for formulating a deworming program best suited to your horse. Keep the sample in the fridge or in a cooler with ice packs until it gets to us. You can drop off samples at any of our three locations (Lodi, DeForest, or Portage); give it to us at your next appointment; or call to arrange pick-up. 

Please don’t hesitate to call with any questions or to discuss a deworming protocol specific to your horse! 

What is a Coggins Anyway?

equine-coggins-testWhat is a Coggins Test?

A coggins is a test for equine infectious anemia (EIA) which is a viral disease. 

Facts about EIA

EIA is spread by blood-feeding insects such as horseflies, stable flies , and deer flies. It can also be transferred in utero, or via equipment or blood products (ex. blood transfusion).

Once infected, horses may show fever, swelling of lower legs, weakness, or petecchia (small bruises on gums). Horses that survive this phase usually become carriers and can spread the disease without even showing any signs. 

There is no treatment for this disease; positive horses can be quarantined for the rest of their lives but are typically euthanized. In just one week, 3 horses in Georgia were confirmed positive for Equine Infectious Anemia and were euthanized. 

Preventative measures focus on eliminating vectors, such as: using insect repellents, reducing standing water, managing manure waste, and cleaning pastures.

When is a Coggins Test Needed?

  • Most equine events/shows require a negative coggins test performed within the past twelve months

  • Out-of-state health certificate

  • Sales

  • Some boarding facilities require a negative coggins test

Simple Conjunctivitis or Something Worse?

What is conjunctivitis and how do I recognize it?

Conjunctivitis is where the tissues surrounding the horse’s eyes become irritated by allergens, excessive dust, flies, injury, or a combination of irritants. The eyes appear red and watery and often the nasolacrimal (tear) duct becomes inflamed and swollen as well and no longer drains the eye normally.

Symptoms include:

  • Inflammation of the mucous membrane or pink lining that surrounds the eyeball
  • Redness of eye tissues
  • Swelling and watering of eyes, sticky
  • Yellowish discharge
  • Often times refusal of horse to open the eyes or repeated clenching of eyelids

Conjunctivitis may be caused by any number of irritants, including dust, pollen, insect bites, flies, allergens, or it may also be the result of injury to the eye.

Unfortunately it is impossible to determine whether it is a simple form of conjunctivitis or if the conjunctivitis is accompanying a more serious condition such as a corneal ulcer so it should always be given immediate attention.

How can we treat it?

Removing known irritants from the environment is the first step in preventing conjunctivitis. Keeping dust of all kinds at a minimum, having an insect control plan in place, and taking care to prevent injuries to the horse’s eyes will help lessen the problem.  In the case of ongoing or repeated cases of conjunctivitis a fly mask may be a large help in managing the problem.

In cases of simple conjunctivitis, merely removing the offending irritant can help solve the problem.

However in cases of more serious conjunctivitis it will be necessary to perform an examination of the cornea to be sure there are no corneal ulcers and then start the horse on an ophthalmic ointment with a steroid.  The steroid works to decrease inflammation and calm down the irritated tissues.  Since steroids decrease the eye’s ability to heal, it is imperative to be sure that there is no corneal ulcer present when you begin to administer the medication.

Equine ophthalmic issues can evolve from simple to serious very quickly so please do not hesitate to call your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns regarding your horse’s eyes. We are open 24/7 for emergencies (608) 592-7755.

The Buzz About EEE and WNV

There has been a recent resurgence in mosquito-borne diseases in Wisconsin over the last few years, and it has become even more vital that horse owners vaccinate against both Encephalitis and West Nile Virus. Last year, there were 24 cases of West Nile Virus (only 1 had been vaccinated) and 24 cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (only 1 horse had been vaccinated) in Wisconsin. Typically, when a horse contracts one of these diseases, it is due to not being vaccinated or being under vaccinated; thus, the goal of most equine practitioners is to ensure all horses are vaccinated and protected against these diseases.

Fun Fact: According to The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, horses and other animals were used to produce antitoxins in a variety of diseases, such as diphtheria, tetanus, and scarlet fever.

Recommended Vaccinations

The core vaccines recommended by AAEP are Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE),  Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE), Tetanus, Rabies, and West Nile Virus. These vaccinations protect against diseases that occur year after year – by way of soil, insects or local wildlife; every horse is at risk, regardless of location or lifestyle. These vaccinations are safe, effective, widely available, and they prevent diseases that have a high mortality rate and/or no effective treatment. Additionally, the rabies vaccination helps protect human health and lives. Other vaccines may be recommended by your veterinarian depending on your horse’s specific needs/situation.

Who Can Vaccinate?

Vaccinations are available for over the counter purchase by anyone. However, it is strongly recommended that a veterinarian administer vaccines. If your horse was an adverse reaction associate with the vaccination or develops the disease while up-to-date on vaccines, the vaccine company will cover the cost of diagnostics and treatment when those vaccines were administered by a licensed veterinarian.

Vaccinating for Disease Prevention

Vaccination easily ranks as one of the single most important things you do to protect your horse’s health. Effectiveness of vaccines can be seen in human health history. Human diseases such as Smallpox and Polio have been almost 100% eradicated due to the use of vaccines; the last endemic case of Smallpox in the world occurred in Somalia in October 1977. While not all vaccines are as effective as these examples, most have significantly decreased the amount of disease.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

 A Brief History

The virus Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis is thought to have been the case of EEE in North America since 1831. It did not receive its name until a major outbreak occurred in horses  \in the coastal areas of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia in 1933. Additional outbreaks occurred in Virginia and North Carolina in 1934 and 1935, respectively. Mosquitoes were first determined to be the carriers of EEE in 1934, and in 1950 it was discovered that birds can be a reservoir host for the virus.

Transmission

  • Transmitted by mosquitoes or other biting insects
  • Birds act as reservoirs for the virus; mosquitoes and other biting insects then carry the pathogen from infected birds and transmit it to horses when they bite
    • The majority of wild birds infected with the virus will exhibit no clinical signs
  •  A horse affected with EEE is not contagious and poses no risk to other horses, humans or birds.

Incubation Period: 3-7 days

Carrier Status: Infected horses CANNOT transmit the disease to other horses, horses do not replicate enough virus to pass on to another mosquito

Severity: High; morbidity rate in horses infected with EEE is 75-95%

Clinical Signs

  • Depression and anorexia without fever when initially infected
  • Moderate to high fever 102.5-104.5F
  • Lack of appetite, lethargy/drowsiness
  • Neurologic signs- Onset of neurologic disease is frequently sudden and progressive
    • Periods of hyperexcitability, apprehension and/or drowsiness
    • Fine tremors and fasciculations of the face and neck muscle
    • Convulsions
    • Cranial nerve paralysis– facial paralysis and weakness of the tongue are very common
    • Head tilt, droopy lip, muzzle deviation
    • Weakness, ataxia, and dysmetria (incoordination) in one or all limbs o
    • Complete paralysis of one or more limbs
  • Colic
  • Recumbency (inability to stand)
  • Death

Diagnosis: Made by a veterinarian using combination of clinical signs, history and bloodwork

Treatment

  • There is no cure for EEE
  • Supportive care is administered in horses which show clinical signs

Prognosis

  • Poor. Horses infected with EEE do not often survive
  • Morbidity rate is 75-95% and death usually occurs within 2-3 days of onset of signs

Prevention

  • Keep all horses up to date on vaccinations!
    • Initial vaccination with booster, followed by yearly revaccination
    • More frequent boosters (i.e. twice yearly) are recommended in areas with year-round mosquito seasons and in endemic areas
  • Practice vector control management on your facility to reduce risk of transmission from insects.
    • Use insect repellents frequently; re-apply after rain
    • Keep horses in at night when possible, and apply insect repellent
    • Eliminate or minimize standing water, eliminate brush piles, gutters, old tires and litter
    • Remove all equipment in which standing water can collect
  • Biosecurity: There are no recommended biosecurity protocols nor do restrictions need to be placed on affected or recovered animals as they pose no risk of infection to other horses.

West Nile Virus

WNV is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and horses. Mosquitoes acquire the virus from infected birds and transmit it to the dead end host In 1999, WNV was seen for the first time in New York. Since then, over 25,000 cases of WNV encephalitis have been reported in U.S. horses. Horses represent 96.9% of all reported non-human mammalian cases of WNV disease.

Transmission

  • Transmitted by mosquitoes or other biting insects
  • Birds act as reservoirs for the virus; mosquitoes and other biting insects then carry the pathogen from infected birds and transmit it to horses when they bite
  • A horse affected with WNV encephalitis is not contagious and poses no risk to other horses, or birds

Incubation Period: 7-10 days

Carrier Status

  • Infected horses CANNOT transmit the disease to other horses.
  • The virus can only be transmitted to a horse via an insect vector

Severity: Medium. Up to 40% of infected horses are euthanized or die as a result of infection

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

  • Depression and anorexia without fever when initially infected
  • Mild low-grade fever (101.5-103.5F) in about 25% of affected horses
  • Lack of appetite, lethargy/drowsiness
  • Neurologic signs
  • Paralysis
    • Facial paralysis and weakness of the tongue are very common
  • Recumbency (inability to stand)
  • Incoordinationin one or more limbs
  • Weakness
  • Colic
  • Death

Diagnosis

  • Made by a veterinarian
  • Use a combo of clinical signs, history and bloodwork

Treatment

  • There is no cure for West Nile Virus
  • Supportive care is administered in cases which show clinical signs

Prognosis

  • Horses showing clinical signs of the disease develop in up to 39% of horses infected
  • Some infected horses never show clinical signs of the disease and horses who survive usually make a full recovery
    • Approximately 40% of horses will have residual neurologic deficits after recovering
  • However, up to 40% of infected horses are euthanized or die if they become recumbent

References

  • https://aaep.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Outside%20Linked%20Documents/DiseaseFactsheet_WNV.pdf
  • https://aaep.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Outside%20Linked%20Documents/DiseaseFactsheet_EEE1.pdf
  • https://equusmagazine.com/management/core-vaccines-25417
  • https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/content/printable_version/fs_eastern_equine_enceph.pdf
  • https://cwhl.ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/disease/eastern-equine-encephalitis#collapse3
  • https://extension.psu.edu/west-nile-virus-a-threat-to-horses
  • https://www.vet.k-state.edu/vhc/services/equine/timely-topics/wnv-fact-sheet.pdf
  • https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/horse-serum
  • http://www.equinediseasecc.org/disease-information
  • https://aaep.org/guidelines/vaccination-guidelines

Toxic Plants to Horses

There are many poisonous plants in Wisconsin that could be a potential hazard to horses. These plants may cause symptoms such as:

  • Colic
  • Muscle weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Depression
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Undesired plants can be eliminated in pastures by several methods, however, hand pulling is often most effective. When eliminating these plants, be sure to:

  • Wear gloves
  • Pull plants up by the root (this is easier when the ground is wet)
  • Dispose of the plants far from the horse’s reach
  • Read instructions on any chemical herbicides thoroughly
  • Keep animals off the area as directed after using herbicides

Below is a non-exhaustive list of commonly found plants that can be toxic to horses:

Black Locust

This tree can be found in almost every environment and soil. The bark, leaves, and seeds are all toxic.

  • Symptoms: irregular heart rate, shallow breath, abdominal pain, and death
  • Treatment: supportive care and detoxification

Black Walnut

While the tree itself is not toxic, shavings made from it and should not be used as horse bedding. Wilted or dry leaves can also be toxic for 4 weeks after falling from the tree.

  • Symptoms: laminitis
  • Treatment: treatment for laminitis

Bracken Fern

This plant is also known as Eastern Bracken. It is a perennial fern, and symptoms are slow to develop.

  • Symptoms: depression, tremors, appetite loss, weakness, paralysis, staggering, loss of flesh
  • Treatment: if caught in time, injections of thiamine can help reverse damage

Chokecherry

Chokecherry can be extremely lethal in small doses; as little as 2 pounds of leaves can kill an 800 pound animal in 30 minutes.

  • Symptoms: convulsions, rapid breathing, frothing of the mouth, and dilated pupils
  • Treatment: if caught in time, immediate supportive care and IV fluids, with an antidote of sodium nitrate and sodium thiosulfate

Cocklebur

Cockleburs are toxic when ingested. As little as 6 lbs. can be lethal to an 800 lbs. horse

  • Symptoms: convulsions, depression, blindness, reluctance to move, hunched back, death
  • Treatment: supportive care

Dried Maple Tree Leaves

While fresh leaves and twigs will not harm horses, wilted or dried leaves can be toxic.

  • Symptoms: weakness, anemia, and increased respiratory rate
  • Treatment: supportive care, IV fluids, blood transfusions and activated charcoal

Eastern Black Nightshade

This plant is also known as Deadly Nightshade, Horse Nettle, or Belladonna. It grows in hedges, pastures and in fence rows. It is a vine with purple flowers and green and red berries.

  • Symptoms: depression, decreased heart and respiratory rate, muscle weakness, watery diarrhea, paralysis of hind legs
  • Treatment: supportive care

Jimson Weed

This plant is also known as Devil’s Trumpet and Thorn Apple. As little as 1 lb. can cause symptoms and more can be fatal.

  • Symptoms: dilated pupils, decreased respiratory rate, and muscle weakness
  • Treatment: if caught in time, activated charcoal, supportive care, and IV fluids

Lawn Clippings

Lawn clippings become toxic as the grass ferments and releases a gas.

  • Symptoms: gas colic
  • Treatment: same as colic treatment

Oak Tree

The acorns, buds, leaves, and blossoms are toxic to horses and livestock.

  • Symptoms: anorexia, colic, bloody diarrhea and edema
  • Treatment: supportive care and IV fluids to flush out kidneys

Ornamental Yew

This plant is also known as Japanese Yew and is commonly used as a landscaping shrub. They are extremely toxic and as little as 6-8 ounces can kill a horse.

  • Symptoms: weakness, labored breathing, collapse, trembling
  • Treatment: if caught in time, treatment can include activated charcoal and assisted respiratory support

Rhododendron

This plant is also known as Mountain Laurel. It is extremely toxic to horses and as little as 0.2% of the body weight may be lethal.

  • Symptoms: depression, weakness, impaired vision, difficulty breathing, collapse
  • Treatment: if caught in time, treatment can include activated charcoal

Spotted Poison Hemlock

Also called Water Hemlock Cowbane, this plant is often found near creeks and streams in damp areas. As little as 2 pounds can cause death.

  • Symptoms: incoordination, salivation, and colic
  • Treatment: supportive care

White Snakeroot

This plant is often found along fence rows and woodlines.

  • Symptoms: difficulty swallowing, muscle tremors, and wide stance
  • Treatment: if caught in time, activated charcoal can be used

Images:

  • https://wagwalking.com/horse/condition/black-locust-tree-poisoning
  • https://csuvth.colostate.edu/poisonous_plants/Plants/Details/69
  • http://noosasnativeplants.com.au/plants/414/pteridium-esculentum
  • http://poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu/php/plants.php?action=indiv&byname=common&keynum=68
  • https://www.fireflyforest.com/flowers/2542/xanthium-strumarium-rough-cocklebur/
  • http://www.horsedvm.com/poisonous/red-maple/
  • https://fyi.uwex.edu/weedsci/1993/10/04/1187/
  • https://wagwalking.com/horse/condition/jimson-weed-poisoning
  • http://www.herbalsafety.utep.edu/herbal-fact-sheets/jimsonweed/
  • http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/2013/08/19/disposing-of-grass-clippings-can-be-a-pain-but-alternatives-exist/
  • http://www.equestrianandhorse.com/care/pasture-grazing.html/poisonous-plants.html
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=ornamental+yew&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwix98SJ66HbAhVs0YMKHYxnD_gQ_AUICygC&biw=906&bih=775#imgrc=LgIVDh4a4wzHGM:
  • https://csuvth.colostate.edu/poisonous_plants/Plants/Details/111
  • http://joshfecteau.com/poisonous-plants-spotted-water-hemlock/
  • https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/photos/13-plants-that-could-kill-you/white-snakeroot

Pro-Stride: A Natural, Drug-Free Treatment for Joint Pain and Arthritis

Lodi Veterinary Care is excited to now offer the latest in regenerative medicine, a treatment called Pro-Stride. Pro-Stride is an Autologous (meaning of the same individual) Protein Solution used to treat joint inflammation and arthritis. It is created by collecting blood from your own horse, and then processing and centrifuging that blood to make a very concentrated solution containing important healing factors (cells, platelets, growth factors, and anti-inflammatory proteins such as Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein, or IRAP). This solution is then administered via joint injection where it works by blocking inflammatory proteins, called cytokines, within the joint. Left unblocked, these inflammatory cytokines contribute to an inflammatory cascade that results in cartilage breakdown, pain, and reduced function.

Pro-Stride is a natural, steroid-free treatment that has no drug withholding times for horses competing at the FEI or USEF levels. Because Pro-Stride is a steroid free treatment it does not have the negative side-effects that may be associated with traditional joint injections and it is safe for use in adolescent horses, horses prone to laminitis, or horses with Cushings Disease, Insulin Resistance, or Equine Metabolic Syndrome.

The entire process from blood collection to treatment injection takes less than one hour and is completed on the farm. In studies, this new regenerative treatment has provided up to one year of pain relief from a single treatment (A. Bertone, Am J Vet Res 2014; 75:141-151).

Equine Ultrasonography in Equine Practice

We are very excited to have acquired a new ultrasound machine! Ultrasound has many valuable applications in the field of equine veterinary medicine. 

A few of the more common uses include:

  1. Reproductive: Ultrasound can be used to visualize the mare’s reproductive tract to help stage breeding, check for ovulation, and manage causes of infertility.

  2. Colic: ultrasound is a quick, non-invasive tool in formulating an accurate diagnosis and therefore assisting with prognosis and treatment. For example, it can help in assessing the volume and type of free fluid in the abdomen; the small intestinal contents, motility, and wall thickness, and positioning of the large colon.

  3. Sports medicine: Sequential imaging of a tendon lesion is used to track healing so that controlled exercise and rehabilitation programs can be adjusted accordingly.

  4. Ophthalmology: if unable to directly visualize the back of the eye (ex. due to glaucoma, trauma, or constricted pupil), ultrasound can be used to determine if the retina is attached and help provide a prognosis for vision.

Detecting Infection with Serum Amyloid A

There is now a quick, stall-side test to know if your horse has an infection. A new tool in our box called Serum Amyloid A by StableLab is useful for veterinarians to check levels of a protein found in the blood called Serum Amyloid A. Serum Amyloid A (SAA) is a major acute phase protein in horses. In normal, healthy horses it is low; with inflammation or infection it can become elevated in as little as 6-12 hours.

This test can be run stall-side or in-clinic to help determine if a horse has inflammation versus infection, or to help with evaluating the response to treatment quicker than previously able to. Other common lab work that can be run in conjunction with SAA include complete blood counts (CBC) and blood chemistry.

Foal-Season Ready!

We recommend planning for breeding season early – even as early as December! This will help make things as stress-free and seamless as possible.

Every year Lodi Veterinary Care rechecks mares for pregnancy, and we recommend doing this as early as January. Of the mares that are confirmed in foal at 15 days and re-confirmed in foal at 35 days, there will still be 5-10% that will have suffered embryonic loss and be open in spring.

If you do have a mare that has suffered embryonic loss, conducting diagnostic work early in the spring is a good idea, as it can take some time. Ultrasonography, uterine cultures, cytology and/or biopsies may be indicated.

Many mares have already been confirmed in foal and are either approaching or past their fifth month. Rhinopneumonitis, also known as EHV-1 (equine herpes virus 1), can cause abortion of the foal; however, there are very effective vaccines available for protection against this disease. The mare should be vaccinated at 5, 7, and 9 months of gestation. When the mare reaches her 10th month, she should receive vaccinations for eastern and western encephalitis, tetanus, West Nile virus, rabies, and influenza. Pregnant mares should have a fecal exam performed and be dewormed accordingly. The mare should also be dewormed around foaling time with an Ivermectin product to help protect her and the foal.

In order to help keep both mare and foal healthy, we advocate for a well-balanced nutrition program. When lacking in crucial vitamins and minerals, foals can suffer from deformities such as angular limb deformities and can be prone to developmental orthopedic diseases. Additionally, mares on a good balanced nutrition program have better chances of conceiving when they are re-bred following foaling. The minerals copper, zinc, phosphorus, selenium and manganese have been proven to affect fertility and must be provided at optimally balanced levels.

If your mare received a “caslicks” operation when she was either bred or confirmed in foal, don’t forget to have your veterinarian remove sutures approximately two weeks prior to foaling.

Breeding season can be a hectic time! That’s why we want too make things as easy as possible. Below is a quick checklist to make sure you and your mare are ready to go!

  • Confirm your mare is in foal
  • Vaccinate them against Rhinopneumonitis at 5, 7, and 9 months of gestation
  • Vaccinate them for eastern and western encephalitis, tetanus, West Nile virus, rabies, and influenzaat 10 months gestation
  • Practice good deworming, throughout the pregnancy
  • Ensure your mare is on a well-balanced diet, complete with the necessary vitamins and minerals

And most of all, contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns! We are here to ensure the health and safety of mare and foal.

Antiparasitic Resistance in Cattle, Small Ruminants, and Horses in the U.S.

Parasite resistance has become a growing problem in grazing animals such as cattle, goats, sheep and horses. We recommend watching the video below to learn a little more about parasite resistance and how it could affect your herd. The video, which was released by the FDA, discusses detecting resistance, planning a deworming schedule, and what questions to ask your veterinarian about controlling parasite resistance. For more information or to talk to a doctor about deworming, please give us a call at (608) 592-7755.

Recognizing a Choke in Your Horse

Would you recognize choke in your horse?

The word choke is a bit of a misnomer in the horse. In people it refers to an obstruction of the trachea or windpipe, usually with a piece of food. In horses the obstruction is of the esophagus not of the airway. This means that usually choke in horses is not immediately life threatening, however long term complications can result if the choke does not resolve on its own or is not treated in a timely fashion.

What causes choke?

Choke can be caused by many different types of feed. Most commonly grain or hay, but beet pulp, corn cobs, apples and carrots have been implicated as well. Horses choke on feed either because the feed is too large to pass down the esophagus, such as with a large apple or carrot, or because the feed expanded after being wet with saliva and swallowed in too large an amount, such as with beet pulp or grain. If choke is caused by hay it is likely due to a large portion of the hay being swallowed without sufficient breakdown, or chewing, prior to swallowing.

What does choke look like in the horse?

The most common sign of choke is a large amount of saliva or feed discharge from both nostrils due to the horse’s inability to swallow. The horse may repeatedly extend their neck, cough, and gag and make attempts to swallow. Sometimes if the obstruction is large enough and is located in the upper esophagus it can be seen and/or palpated on examination.

What predisposes horses to choke?

The most common reason for choke in horses is poor dentition. If there are missing teeth or dental issues such as a wave mouth or teeth that are too worn to chew properly this can result in improper feed breakdown prior to swallowing. That being said we occasionally run across horses that have normal teeth that just eat too fast for their own good! Regardless of the inciting cause of the choke often we have to modify the diet or modify the feeding process in some way to try and help prevent re-occurrence.

How do I treat it?

If you notice these signs in your horse it is very important to call your veterinarian. The sooner the choke is treated the less of a chance there is of complications. Treatment includes sedation to help relax the horse and the esophagus and passing a tube to help pass or flush out the obstruction. Other treatments can include pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics and oftentimes oral rehydration as the horse was unable to eat or drink while choked. Your veterinarian will likely determine which treatments are required depending on the type of choke and the length of time the horse has been choked.

Laminitis or Founder?

Laminitis is the inflammation of the tissues which connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone. This can occur in horses of any age, sex and size, and it can occur due to multiple factors. Severity may range from mild to very severe cases in which euthanasia may be recommended as the most humane option. Some cases are of short duration and others may lead to chronic conditions that cause permanent lameness. Each year approximately 1.4% of the horse and pony population suffers from acute laminitis, and another 1.8% struggles with chronic laminitis.

Some risk factors for laminitis include:

  • over consumption of lush pasture
  • excessive grain
  • obesity
  • equine metabolic syndrome or equine cushings
  • mares who retain their placenta after foaling
  • weight bearing injuries placing extra stress on opposite limbs
  • trauma or injury to a limb or hoof
  • exposure to toxic substances, i.e. black walnut shavings
  • diarrhea or other systemic infections
  • long term or excessive steroid use

“Founder” describes a subset of laminitis cases in which the coffin bone rotates away from the hoof capsule.

Laminitis or Founder?

So what signs do we look for when determining if a horse or pony has laminitis? Clinical signs include a reluctance to move and lameness especially in the front limbs, lethargy, sweating, and increased respiratory and heart rate. Affected horses may be resistant to pick up their feet, have a difficult time turning, have a characteristic “saw horse” stance, and are more painful on hard ground. Some horses may spend an increased amount of time lying down. In more mild cases, the horse may simply appear stiff.

Laminitis or Founder?

Characteristic laminitis stance with the front limbs extended in front, and the hind limbs positioned under the body to bare more of the horse’s weight.

Your veterinarian will do an exam of your horse, as well as discuss a complete history of your horse to determine if he or she is affected by laminitis. An exam may include hoof testing, nerve blocks, and x-rays. Bloodwork or other diagnostics may also be recommended depending on the case.

Prevention is key! Limit grazing and/or use a grazing muzzle prevent weight gain or assist with weight loss in obese horses. Proper hoof care every 6-8 weeks, with shoeing if needed, is important. If the horses are not laminitic, exercise can aid in facilitating weight loss. Watch for clinical signs of Metabolic Syndrome (young to middle aged horses, excess fat deposition, weight gain, lameness) or Cushing’s (horses 15 years and older, excessive weight gain, long hair coat, excess sweating, increased drinking and urination, recurrent infections or lameness) and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if any of those signs are noted.

Treatment for laminitis may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (ex. bute, DMSO)
  • Stall rest or exercise restriction
  • Deep bedding or sand, or special boots to provide cushion for the feet
  • Dietary restriction: grass hay and a vitamin/mineral supplement. No grass or grain!
  • Proper medical treatment for other health concerns (ex. treatment of Cushing’s if present)
  • Mechanical support with trimming +/- shoes
  • Ice or cold-water therapy to the distal limbs where feasible
  • Other therapies may be recommended on a case-by-case basis

If you see signs of laminitis in your horse or risk factors for developing laminitis, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian. Laminitis is considered an emergency as it can cause serious life-altering changes if left untreated. Remember, it is always better to prevent this disease rather than treating it.

Recognizing Overheating in Your Horse

Overheating can be a serious problem in horses. More often this is an issue in summer with warm, humid weather; yet it can occur at all times of the year. As in any species, overweight horses are more prone to overheating. Any sort of breeze, even those supplied artificially with fans can help to cool your equine friends due to convection cooling with sweating and the subsequent heat loss during drying.

To determine if your horse is at risk for overheating monitor your horses’ basic health parameters such as rate of breathing, rectal temperature, capillary refill time and attitude.

  • Start with their breathing by observing their abdomen rise and fall. Increased respiratory rate is normal after exercise and should decrease within a few minutes of activity stopping. If your horse continues to breathe heavily, this may be of concern.
  • Taking a temperature rectally with a thermometer is also useful. A thermometer from your local pharmacy is adequate. Temperatures elevated above 102.5 F after cool down or at rest if out on pasture, justifies a call to your veterinarian.
  • Overall attitude can relay how a horse is feeling. An overheating horse may be uninterested in their surroundings, hanging their head, or not willing to eat grass or feed that’s offered.
  • Capillary refill time is checked by pressing a finger against the gums or gingiva above the front incisor teeth to cause the color to fade and return. Normal color should be light pink to pink. After the gingiva is pressed color should return in less than 2-3 seconds. Also take note of how much moisture is present when touching your horse’s gums, as tacky or dry gingiva can relate to dehydration.

To cool an overheating horse, start with hosing them off with cool water. Avoid using ice cold water as this may be a shock to your equine companion. After a cool bath, be sure to remove the excess water from his or her coat using your hand or a sweat scraper. This water can trap heat and act in an insulating fashion, rather than continuing to cool their temperature. Place your horse in a shaded area with a cool breeze or fan to continue the cooling process. Always offer free choice, fresh, cool water for drinking. After exercise small drinks of water are preferred during cool down.

Sweating is the natural way for horses to cool body temperature down. Along with loss of water, horses loose important electrolytes in their sweat. These electrolytes are minerals such as potassium, chloride, sodium and smaller amounts of calcium, and magnesium. Working horses or those that are sweating in hot weather can benefit from electrolyte supplementation even if they have a mineral block available. Options for supplementation include regular salt (sodium chloride) or light salt (potassium chloride) added to grain, water, or offered free choice. No more than 2 tablespoons per day should be added to grain for a full sized horse. If electrolyte water is offered, regular water should be available at all times as well. Horses that are used to salt blocks and licks should be gradually transitioned to loose salt over 1-2 weeks to prevent over consumption. Another option is top dressed electrolyte mixes (Doctor’s Choice-Recharge is offered at Lodi Veterinary Care) or oral pastes such as Electro-plex can be given.

If your horse does not show signs of sweating during conditions where they would normally be expected to, he/she may have a more severe condition occurring called anhidrosis. We urge you and your pets to stay cool during this summer’s heat wave. Please do not hesitate to call should questions arise.

Shockwave Therapy

It is the time of year when the clinic starts to see an increase in the number of tendon and ligament injuries due to horses fresh from the winter. The show season is getting heavy for many clients and their horse is unable to compete due to a tendon/ligament injury.

What can be done to treat the tendon or ligament injury?

One of the newest recommended treatments is Shockwave Therapy. This technology is based from a treatment used in humans that breaks up kidney stones. These high intensity ultrasound waves travel through fluid and soft tissue. When the injured tendon or ligament is hit with these waves, the tissue releases multiple healing factors to speed up the healing process. With this treatment the injury will heal twice as fast, compared to just rest. So, if a tendon is injured, the normal treatment is six to nine months of rest; shockwave treatment could potentially get your horse back to work in three months.

What else should be done?

With all tendon or ligament injuries, it is good to follow the healing process with an ultrasound. Before work is started, an ultrasound should be done to make sure the area is completely healed. This will prevent re-injury to the same areaa.

Where can I find a shockwave unit?

The clinic has their own shockwave unit. We are seeing good success at treating tendon injuries with shockwave therapy. The success rate is higher if the shockwave treatment is started shortly after the injury has occurred. Shockwave treatment does give some immediate pain relief.

Can I work my horse during this?

During this time the horse’s activity is highly restricted. A typical treatment plan using shockwave therapy is to start with aninitial treatment, then in two weeks have a follow up treatment. During this time the horse should be on stall rest with hand walking. It may be necessary to have one more treatment two weeks after the second treatment. This treatment plan varies with every case. It is also important not to let the horse have too much exercise within seven days after the treatments are done. A good rehabilitation schedule should be followed to obtain the best quality of healing. Shockwave therapy can also be used for a sore back, splints, joints, and non-healing wounds.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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