Why your veterinarian should be the one vaccinating your horses

When it comes to the safety and health of your four-legged companions, vaccination is an area where we don’t want to make compromises! Many of the diseases we routinely vaccinate for are very serious, if not fatal for your horse. Having a veterinarian vaccinate your horse can help ensure that your horse is kept healthy, safe, and free of preventable disease. Here are some of our top reasons why veterinarian-administered vaccines are best for both you and your horse.

1. Which vaccines? There are so many different vaccines and vaccine combinations available that the choices can seem overwhelming! 4-way, 5-way, 7-way? What is even in those vaccines and which do I need? Your veterinarian is familiar with available products, what they contain, and (most importantly!) what vaccines your horse specifically should receive. Vaccine programs can be tailored to the individual horse, and your veterinarian has the training to develop an appropriate program. Core vaccines, which include Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis, Rabies, Tetanus, and West Nile Virus, are recommended for all horses. The list of non-core vaccines, however, is much longer! Your veterinarian can help you decide which of these your horse needs based on age, geographic location, and lifestyle.

2. Vaccine handling.  Vaccine storage and handling are essential to ensure that a vaccine is both effective and safe for your horse. You can have confidence that your veterinarian is aware of and will maintain these requirements when providing vaccination services. Improperly stored vaccinations can lose their efficacy, leaving your horse vulnerable to potentially fatal disease. Improperly storing vaccines can also increase the risk of adverse reactions.

3. Adverse reactions.  Speaking of adverse reactions, if your horse has an adverse reaction to a vaccine, you want your veterinarian there! Though rare, adverse reactions can be severe and life-threatening to your horse, ranging from mild soreness and fever to complete anaphylaxis.  Your veterinarian will be able to recognize signs of adverse reactions quickly, and have the necessary equipment and medications to treat your horse immediately.

4. Liability.  Many vaccine companies have excellent backing for their products. If your horse contracts a disease that it was vaccinated against, companies may cover portions of the testing and treatment costs. Some may also cover costs of treating adverse reactions. The catch? Most require that the vaccine was handled and stored properly, and given by a licensed veterinarian.

5. Hidden costs.  Purchasing and giving your own vaccines may seem cheaper, but each point discussed above can come with hidden costs. You may be spending more than necessary on non-core vaccines that your horse doesn’t need. Improperly stored vaccines that are ineffective both wastes the money spent upfront, as well as leaves your horse vulnerable to disease that can be very costly to treat. Perhaps most importantly, consider the invaluable cost of your horse’s safety. Having your veterinarian vaccinate your horse is the best way to ensure they are protected from disease while minimizing associated risks.

Vitamin E and Selenium for Your Horse

Vitamin E and Selenium are involved in many systems within the body. Selenium is a mineral which is important for wound healing, stress tolerance, fetal development, healthy hair coat, and detoxification of drugs and other chemicals. In addition, selenium is critical for proper wound healing and muscle function, as well as preventing infection.

Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant and signs of vitamin E deficiency can be similar to those seen with selenium deficiency. There are several muscular and neurologic diseases which can result from a lack of vitamin E including Equine Motor Neuron Disease (EMND).

The soil in this region of the United States are deficient in Selenium, so forages grown in this area are also generally deficient and as a result equine diets should be supplemented. On the other hand, vitamin E is abundant in green growing pastures but the content diminishes with maturation and especially with harvesting for hay. Since we are unable to graze year-round, this vitamin should also be supplemented in the diet.

Horses who have increased time stalled or in a dry lot are especially prone to low levels of vitamin E and Selenium. Since these nutrients protect the muscle cells from damage and aid in healing, the higher and more intense the exercise program, the greater the requirements. Decreased fertility, neurologic signs, hind-end lameness, lethargy, or delayed healing are some of the many reasons we may recommend checking vitamin E and selenium levels, which can easily be done via a blood sample.

For example, we had a case of a broodmare that was having trouble getting in foal. She was kept on a dry lot and all forages she received were grown on sandy soil. She was in decent body condition and was strictly being used as a broodmare.

Vitamin E Level: 0.67 ug/ml
(Normal: 2-4 ug/ml)
(Performance Horse: 3-4 ug/ml)

Selenium: 136 ng/ml
(Normal: 120-180 ng/ml)
(Performance Horse: 170-180 ng/ml)

We have included this example to show how important all vitamins and minerals are in the diet. Often people hear about some particular mineral or vitamin and they just concentrate on that one element. We must remember that the diet needs to be balanced for everything. Many of the minerals and vitamins work very closely together and feeding one in excess can cause an extreme deficiency in another. If you have any questions or concerns about your horse’s diet, we would be happy to discuss in more detail!

Our Gallant Geldings and the Importance of Sheath Cleaning

If you have geldings and get dental work done on them regularly you will be used to this familiar question from your veterinarian: “Would you like his sheath cleaned today?”. While many owners have geldings that are patient enough to have their sheaths cleaned without any sedation, it can be difficult to clean and get a good look without assistance. Having your horse’s sheath cleaned and examined by your veterinarian annually will not only make your horse more comfortable, it can also allow the veterinarians to see potential issues early on before they become a much bigger problem.

As veterinarians, one of the most important reasons we advocate for annual sheath cleaning is to inspect the penis and sheath to look for cancerous lesions. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common equine tumor, and the penis and sheath are common areas for this type of cancer to be found. Older geldings and/or those with unpigmented genitalia, such as Appaloosas and Paints, are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma. Current research also indicates that excessive accumulation of smegma can also predispose to the development of cancerous lesions. Annual sheath cleanings performed by your veterinarian allows them to both A) Remove the buildup of potentially harmful smegma and B) Thoroughly inspect the sheath while your horse is relaxed and sedated. If your veterinarian does find a worrisome lesion, they can work with you on the best plan for your horse to ensure the tumor does not grow or spread. In general, squamous cell carcinomas are locally aggressive but slow to spread to other organs, meaning the sooner your veterinarian can find and treat the growth, the better the prognosis is for your horse.

Another reason to have your gelding’s sheath cleaned annually is to remove the “bean”; an accumulation of smegma in the urethral fossa at the end of the penis. For some horses this accumulation is small and not an issue, but in others it can be the size of a marble or larger, and become painful for your gelding and/or make it difficult for them to urinate. Many horses will be resentful of having the bean removed without proper restraint and sedation, which is another excellent reason to have it done by your veterinarian. Even after sheath cleaning and bean removal, some horses may begin to accumulate smegma as soon as a week post-cleaning. This is normal in a lot of horses, and a low level of smegma is helpful in that it acts as a lubricant and protective covering for the penis. The purpose of the cleaning and bean removal is to get rid of any excess that could cause an issue.

We love our geldings and want to make sure that they’re happy and healthy. Having your gelding’s sheath cleaned and looked over annually by your veterinarian is an important way to ensure that they are both comfortable and free from any potentially cancerous lesions. If you have any questions or notice anything on your horse’s sheath between annual cleanings, be sure to contact your veterinarian to discuss your concerns early-on before anything has time to progress.

(Written by Dr. Deanna Scheller while she was a 4th year ambulatory rotation student with us from the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Thanks Dr. Deanna!)

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
($395-500 for group cremation or additional for individual cremation with ashes returned)

Midwest Cremation Service:

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

Granite Stock Removal

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”.


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.


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.


  • 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


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


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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


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


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


  • 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


  • 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 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


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


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


  • 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.

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