Tag Archives: Ailments

Test That Crest

Until October of this year Boehringer in conjunction with Liphook are offering free blood tests for equine Cushing’s desease. Because of this we thought it would be a good idea to provide some information on this condition!

Equine Cushing’s typically affects older horses and ponies, usually over the age of 15 or so but there are examples of individuals as young as 8 suffering from the disease. Animals present with a curly, shaggy coat and commonly have excessive fat pads on their rumps, crests and above their eyes.

Overweight and Cresty neck

Overweight and Cresty neck

Despite these, animals can look thin as they also lose muscle and so may have a poor topline or poor muscle mass in general. Other signs include increased thirst and urination, having poor wound healing and suffering from recurrent foot abscesses.

Slow shedding coat and quite thin

Slow shedding coat and quite thin

One of the most concerning things about Equine Cushing’s (and other endocrine diseases such as EMS) is that it predisposes horses and ponies to developing laminitis, which can have devastating consequences if not treated promptly.

The blood test looks for a hormone called ACTH, which is usually elevated in cases of Cushing’s. This hormone encourages the production of steroids within the body, which account for the clinical signs seen. The treatment of Cushing’s aims to decrease the production of ACTH.

If your horse or pony shows any of the signs above then we recommend they have a health check and blood sample to determine the underlying cause.

Please note that charges for taking of the blood sample, postage and any necessary health checks and visit fees will still apply. please ring the Simply Horses Vet Clinic to make an appointment or with any queries

A Foal is a fragile thing

Although the weather feels like it is still winter, we are actually in the middle of the foaling season! The past couple of weeks we have seen many happy, healthy foals for mare and foal checks, the best part of this job! However, we have also seen some foals with health problems, some very serious. It’s important to remember a foal is programmed not to show any signs of illness or weakness, so it doesn’t attract the attention of predators.
This makes it difficult to spot signs that your foal is ill. Important signs to look out for are;

1) Changes in behavior of the foal

2) Not getting up when stimulated

3) Not drinking regularly

4) Showing signs of colic

5) Not following the mare around

you can look at the mare’s udder to see if the foal has been drinking recently. In the very early stages of a foals life it is vital to recognize that the foal is ill as soon as possible, as they are born without any energy reserves and will deteriorate very very quickly if they stop drinking from the mare.

mare and foal

Not a happy foal

I was called out by a concerned recently, the foal had been suckling and her behavior had been normal at first, but a couple of hours after the birth the foal started to lose interest in the mare and was very lethargic. This alert owner had spotted the difference in the foals behavior and called us out for an examination. After my clinical
exam I decided the foal was suffering from perinatal asphyxia syndrome, meaning it had been deprived of oxygen during the birth. It is typical for these foals that they look fine initially, but then slowly deteriorate to the point where they are not suckling anymore and
become very ill. This specific foal was very precious to the owner, so we decided to refer it to a large hospital so it could be monitored 24/7 and they could give it a permanent feeding tube, as the foal had stopped drinking. Thanks to the quick response of the owner
and the intensive therapy it received the foal is now back home and doing really well. We all love a happy ending!

This case also illustrates the importance of having the vet out after the foal is born for a mare and foal check, as subtle signs of illness will be picked up during the clinical exam of the foal. A lot of conditions in foals can be treated on the yard with good result, but the sooner treatment can be started the better!

PS if your mare is expecting a foal and you want some help and advice about the birth, here at Simply Horses we have a very useful foal package, consisting of detailed information about the birth process,
tips on what to do and what not to do, a discount voucher for a mare and foal check by one of our vets and lots of other goodies!

Well adjusted healthy foal

Well adjusted healthy foal

Simply Horses Vets – The benefits of Worm Egg Counts

Simply horses Vets: The Importance of Worm Egg Counts in your worming program

We are rolling out some new worm egg count kits and just wanted to give you a bit more information about why it is important to use them.

We are now seeing widespread resistance to wormers that are frequently used, which means that the wormers are no longer killing the worms. This is occurring everywhere, not just in the North East. As well as this problem, there are no new worming drugs currently being created. This means we need to worm responsibly and try to prevent further resistance developing, so the wormers we are using will remain effective.

It has been found that approximately 80% of the horses in a herd, grazing on the same field, will be producing 20% of the worm eggs on that field. This means the remaining 20% of horses are producing 80% of the worm eggs on the field. It is important to target the 20% and reduce the amount of contamination they are producing. This is done using worm egg counts (WEC).

A faecal sample needs to be collected from all horses on the pasture on the same day. This will then be sent to the laboratory to identify worm eggs. If a horse has a low count of eggs, then they do not need to be treated (saving you money and helping reduce resistance). The horses with high worm egg counts need to be treated.

WECs should be performed 3-4 times a year. Some horses have a low count on one sample, but a high count on subsequent samples. This is because the samples look for eggs that are only produced by mature adult worms. If worms are present that are not mature then the WEC will be low, but once they are mature, they will start producing eggs that are detected in a faecal sample.

To help reduce worm burden in your horse and the amount of wormer that needs to be used, it is important to poo pick your pasture as well. This is especially important when doing WECs. As the eggs are passed in faeces and horses become infected by ingesting these eggs, the pasture needs to poo picked at least twice weekly, but ideally daily, to reduce the egg contamination on the grazing.

Even though you are doing WECs, it is important to worm twice yearly with a tapeworm product. Tapeworm eggs do not show up well on a WEC, so the best way to ensure your horse is protected is to have a blood sample taken or worm regularly for tapeworm.

What to do if you think the worms are resistant to the wormer you are using? In these cases a WEC needs to be done before treatment and then another sample taken 14 days later and compared to the original sample.

The vets at Simply Horses are carrying these new kits in their cars they are £9.50 each and this will reduce to £8.75 if there are 6 or more horses on one yard tested. They are easy to use and have everything you need to send your sample to the lab, the results are back in 24 hours direct to Simply horses where one of our vets will interpret the results and contact you with them and give you the best possible advice on what is the best course of action for your horse.

Mud Fever

 

This time of year it is a constant battle with the mud and our horses are at risk of getting mud fever

Mud fever is not a single disease but can be seen in differing forms. It occurs especially in warm, wet weather, and is associated with a number of causes. It is certainly not limited to horses that are paddling knee deep in mud! Mud fever can range from a mild skin irritation to very painful infected sores, and can in some cases cause significant swelling with severe lameness. It starts off as matted hair with dry crusts, caused by the inflamed skin weeping.

Bacterium lives in soil as spores and can survive from year to year. These spores become activated by wet weather and this is why we see the disease when the ground is wet. This bacterium cannot invade healthy skin. In the winter the rain and mud soften the skin, constant wetting and drying of the legs causes the skin in this area to chap, and then the bacteria can enter. Indeed anything which breaks the skin such as a small cut or wound can allow the bacteria to invade. For this reason muddy conditions are not always necessary for mud fever to occur. Some horses seem more prone than others and this is because their skin is a less efficient barrier to infection. For example, horses with white and/or hairless pasterns appear to suffer more and horses with very hairy legs may suffer less (as their skin is a bit more protected). If a horse is suffering from another form of infection such as chorioptic mange or ringworm, the skin can become damaged and this allows a secondary infection to occur. It is important then to identify and treat the primary cause as neither mange nor ringworm will be cured by using antibiotics.

The diagnosis of mud fever is usually straight forward and can be made by identifying the matted hair, crusty scabs and exudate on a horse’s leg. The treatment of this condition is unfortunately not always as simple! The importance of regular inspection of the horse’s legs to catch the condition early cannot be stressed enough, and as always, prevention is much better than cure.

The treatment of mud fever begins with thorough washing of the affected limb(s) with an antibacterial shampoo to remove the crusts and exudate (as these harbour the infection). Either dilute Hibiscrub (1:40 dilutions) or Malaseb shampoo are ideal. The shampoo should be worked into a lather and left on for five minutes before rinsing off with warm water. The leg must then be DRIED thoroughly with a clean towel or cool hair drier (with circuit breaker). It is important to dispose of the scabs properly as they can remain infectious for up to 42 months! The scabs may form again quickly so initially the legs must be washed daily. If the bacteria penetrate deep into the skin, the leg may become swollen and a course of antibiotics may possibly be required. In this situation the horse must be seen and treated by a vet. It is necessary to stable those who are affected badly, to prevent the skin from any further wetting or exposure to mud until the skin surface is healed. In fact the infection is self-limiting in dry conditions. We do not recommend covering the limbs of these horses as the warm and moist environment achieved by bandaging can cause the infection to worsen, and possibly force the infection further up the limb. Once the infection has been eradicated it is imperative to keep on protecting the area until the new skin and hair has formed.

Once a horse has suffered with mud fever it is not unusual for them to have repeated attacks, so  obviously it would be better if the horse did not get the infection in the first place.

 

Prevention is better than cure…

Ideally let the mud  dry and then brush it off. If this is not a practical option, then it is very important that the legs are dried thoroughly after washing

To help to prevent the skin coming into contact with the bacteria. There are numerous preparations available, but ones with a soothing emollient and oily base are ideal.

 

Application of a barrier cream to DRY and CLEAN legs prior to exercise or turnout will immediately If bandaging prior to exercise, ensure the legs are clean and dry beforehand and removed afterwards to avoid any grit or coarse material traumatising the skin surface

Ensure that bedding is clean, dry and non irritant to the lower limbs 

Wherever possible avoid horses standing in poached paddocks and gateways 

But most importantly of all, inspect your horse’s legs daily to spot any early signs of infection and hopefully minimise the risk of a miserable and lengthy period of recovery for  you both.