Tag Archives: equine vets in Durham

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 vaccine amnesty

Once again here at Simply Horses we are offering our clients in conjunction with Merial our vaccine suppliers the chance to get your horse vaccinated through the Vaccine Amnesty.
If your horse is over 12 months of age and has never been vaccinated or your vaccinations have lapsed then you can benefit from this offer. You pay for the first vaccination (this must be done during the month of October) Merial will pay for the second vaccination at 4-6 weeks (you will have visit costs if applicable) then you pay for the third vaccination in 5-7 months. This applies to Flu/Tet only NOT tetanus.
Please ring the clinic 0191 3859696 to take advantage of this offer. We have already had an outbreak of equine flu in the North East so this is a great chance to protect your horse in the future and help keep him as healthy as you can

Healthy horseser

Simply Horses Vets , Equine Education

Working for a certificate

Having been out of University for just over 4 years now, I decided it was time to go back to the books and study. I enrolled on a certificate in advanced veterinary practice (certAVP), that I could do from home while continuing to work. So I am now once again a student at the University of Liverpool.

simply horses vets study Loenardo horse and rider

The aim of the certAVP is to provide more in depth knowledge in a specific field of veterinary practice. As I am still in the early stages, I am learning more general information before going into a more in depth area of interest. Eventually I will be doing more specific work on medicine subjects, including hearts and lungs, colics, liver problems and several others.

I am sent weekly reading lists, along with weekly assignments. These vary from short responses, to longer case reports. I am also required to attend online meetings and online discussion boards with other vets enrolled on the certificate. These give me the opportunity to discuss alternative diagnoses and treatments with vets from this country and also those outside the UK working for the same certAVP.

I have been very lucky to have the help of my colleague, Keesjan, who started working for us a few months ago. He has done a lot of work in medicine (already holding certificates) and provides a lot of support for me when working up cases.

I hope that this certAVP will bring more to our clients and allow us to provide a better service to you all. In the mean time, it is back to the study for me as I have deadlines to meet!

Charlotte Stedman MRCVS

Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance.Will Durant (1885-1981) U.S. author and historian.

Horse insurance – cheapest isn’t always best

Finding the right horse insurance…..Not an easy task!

I have just recently bought a new horse and as he hopefully will keep me going for quite a few years decided that he needed to be insured, so I spent the week leading up to his collection trawling the internet for quotes and this really did open my eyes.

This is despite working or years at equine vets including Simply Horses Vet Clinic and dealing with lots of insurance claims.

The first main thing I found was to “read the small print” and I might add with some companies the small print was VERY small indeed, bring out the magnifying glass. What at first glance seemed a really good deal on further reading really was not! There were lots of exclusions to the policies and I mean lots, some didn’t have fixed excess instead it was a percentage of the claim, which if your horse needed surgery for whatever then I would have ended up with a hefty bill at the end which was the whole point of insuring my horse in the first place, some had limited pay out for diagnostics, some even only paid for the initial vet visit and no follow up treatment what so ever, what good was that?

As veterinary fees have risen there has been an increase in “budget” insurance policies which seem to give the minimum cover, so although the premiums are cheaper this may not be cost effective in the long run.

Most of the larger insurance companies that specialise in equine cover had very easy to navigate sites and I was able to tailor my cover to my needs, what activities I was going to use this new horse for, did I want remedial shoeing covered, complementary treatments and the extra cost of bedding if he had to be on box rest this all went into the mix and of course public liability is included on most of the larger companies which is peace of mind when out hacking if you end up in the awful situation of damaging a vehicle.

Another good pointer is speak to your horsey friends and ask who they use and what it covers, also ask your vet for advise although they are not allowed to “push” a specific company they will tell you the names of companies that offer good cover. There are discounts to pick up too if you make a one off payment instead of monthly, I managed a bit more discount as I already had my vehicle and trailer insured with them there is no harm asking what discounts are to be had.

Happy Simply horses clients, confident with their insurance

Happy Simply horses clients, confident with their insurance

 

So in a nutshell

• Can you afford not to insure your horse?
• Cheaper isn’t always best
• Insure for your needs
• Read the small print
• Go with an equine specialist

I learnt a lot from my hours spent looking but it was time well spent, I know I have the best cover for my horse for the activities I intend to do.

Simply horses find out about farriery in Italy

How the Italians do it!

As an Italian vet working in the UK there are many similarities with how farriery works.  In Italy a farrier is called a Maniscalco (which is derived from the words ‘mare’ as in horse and ‘shall’ meaning duty/responsibility).  Incidentially, the English word ‘marshal’ derives from the German words ‘marah’ (horse) and schalh (servant) – meaning who is responsible for taking care of horses.

In Italy farriers can train at local level or train via military farrier colleges which are now open to the public rather than just military.  It takes 2-3 years of both theory and practical work (apprenticeship) before an Italian farrier is qualified to European standards.    However, there are other shorter courses for farriers in Italy but these do not give qualifications for working outside Italy.  Unfortunately, there are also people who call themselves farriers, who have learnt the ‘skills’ from their fathers, ie family businesses carried down.  Whilst they may have experience they have no recognised qualification.

 

Recently, in Italy barefoot farriery has become popular resulting in the craft of farriery gaining new impetus.  Obviously, barefoot farriery requires learning new techniques and farriers have had to adapt and learn these new techniques.

 

 


As in the UK Italian farriers work closely with owners (who know the type of work the horse is required to do) and vets (who, for example, will ensure the appropriate measures are undertaken when a horse has joint problems, etc).

 

At equestrian sporting events in Italy a farrier would be present, along with vets and first aid personnel for people.

New research into suspensory ligament injuries in dressage horses

At Simply Horses we see our fair share of suspensory ligament injuries, the following article is very informative regarding research why dressage horse may suffer more than most.

Suspensory ligament injuries are relatively common in dressage horses, but there is little scientific information available on their causes. A recent study by researchers at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. examined the possible link between movement patterns at the collected and extended trot, and risk for suspensory ligament injuries.

Scientists used a high-speed camera to capture four Warmbloods working in collected and extended trot on three different surfaces. Each horse wore brushing boots fitted with inertial motion sensors and markers at five points on the hind legs to aid in video analysis.

The results demonstrated that when horses performed the collected trot across all three surfaces tested, there was a decrease in speed and stride length (measured in metres) but an increase in stride duration (measured in seconds) compared to extended trot.

Conversely, in the extended trot, horses showed an increase in flexion of the hock and extension of the fetlock when the limb was in contact with the ground. This suggests that there might be more strain placed on the suspensory ligament at extended trot compared to the collected trot, the team relayed. The authors suggested that this could be because the horse is moving over a greater distance at a greater speed at extended trot, increasing relative protraction and retraction of the hind limb, putting more strain on the soft tissue structures of the leg.

This might be particularly problematic for young horses in dressage training, as there is industry pressure for these horses to demonstrate extended paces–particularly if they are extravagant movers–but these young animals might not have sufficient muscular strength to support this movement, the team relayed.

“They key aspect in terms of young horses is to ensure that they are trained slowly and correctly to build up core muscle strength and not pushed to demonstrate extravagant paces before they have the strength through their body to support their limbs,” said Vicki Walker, BSc, MSc and study author. “Any new exercises should be introduced slowly and only undertaken for very short periods initially.”

For all dressage horses, it’s important to ensure the surface you ride on is level and stable, as other studies suggest that the gait of the horse is influenced by characteristics of the surface and that certain characteristics can increase the risk of injury. These could be exacerbated when the horse is working on a new surface, as it is likely to be less coordinated and tire more easily, the team said

“In order to protect horses from overload injury, it is important to avoid spending too long in any single exercise and not to repeat any single exercise too many times, especially when the horse is becoming tired,” said Walker. “At the extended trot in particular, there may be considerable forces on the limbs, so it is important that the horse is coordinated … it may be safer to avoid performing extended trot when a horse is getting tired at the end of a session.

Simply Horses Laminitis research update

Vets have announced plans to conduct a clinical trial evaluating an experimental drug that has shown promise in treating horses stricken with the debilitating hoof disease laminitis.

They have treated four horses suffering from laminitis with the investigational anti-inflammatory drug so far. They said that one horse experienced remission that has lasted for more than a year, and three others have shown some improvement. A paper on the first laminitis case has been accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed Journal of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia.

Alonso Guedes, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVA, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), School of Veterinary Medicine, plans to begin the clinical trial to assess the drug’s safety and establish a tolerable dose in the spring. Further clinical trials would be needed to establish the drug’s effectiveness as a laminitis treatment.

The experimental compound, known as t-TUCB, belongs to a group of anti-inflammatory compounds called sEH (soluble epoxide hydrolases) inhibitors. It stems from a discovery made more than 40 years ago by UC Davis entomology professor Bruce Hammock, PhD, while doing basic insect biology research. He and colleagues have identified a group of anti-inflammatory compounds, including the sEH inhibitors, that have proven to be effective in relieving inflammatory discomfort and pain related to nervous system disorders in mice and rats. Their work has been published in scientific journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Guedes noted that the safe management of laminitis-related pain is one of the biggest challenges for equine veterinarians. Often, euthanasia is the only humane alternative for alleviating pain and suffering in horses afflicted with the condition. Consequently, the survival rate for laminitis is estimated to be only 25%. Very few surviving horses return to their previous levels of activity, and laminitis often reappears.

Funding was provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the UC Davis Center for Equine Health.

Equine Dental Care & Simply Horses Vet Clinic

Looking after your horses teeth:

Nowadays it is recognised that horses teeth must, like our own teeth, be regularly examined.  Unlike our teeth, a horse’s teeth carry on growing and should naturally wear down as they eat.  However, they rarely wear down evenly and so need intervention to ensure the horse can eat properly, perform to their best and generally be comfortable.
Most of us have had toothache, know what it feels like to have a sharp point on a tooth, know how sore an ulcer is, etc.  But imagine having a bit in your mouth with one of the above problems.  We will trot off to our dentist – a professional, who has studied for years to obtain their dental degree.
A six monthly check up is recommended so all potential problems can be identified and remedied before serious pain and complications set in.  The best option is to get your veterinary surgeon to do the check up – and this can be conveniently carried out at vaccination time.  A veterinary surgeon can legally perform all aspects of equine dentistry – and most will have attended species specific veterinary dental courses.   They will also be fully insured to carry out the procedures.
In order for a thorough examination to be carried out it is often necessary to use sedation, either orally or via injection.  A gag will be used – it is impossible to examine the teeth at the back of the mouth without one!   The vet will sometimes wear a head torch – a horse’s teeth go a long way back and it’s a bit dark at the back! A head stand sometimes would help to keep the sedated horse in position– which as well as saving the owner/handler having to stand trying to hold the head up and still, also enables the vet to get a proper view.
Once this is in place the vet can carry out the examination, show the owner/handler any problems and then perform the necessary treatment.
Unfortunately, there are numerous people who call themselves ‘horse dentists’ or equine dental technicians (EDT’s) who are regularly examining and ‘treating’ horse’s teeth.  However, DEFRA are now trying to ensure that these people are properly qualified and their work regulated.  In order to qualify as a DEFRA approved EDT they have to pass a 2 day exam.   Even then they are restricted to the type of work they can perform, some of which must be carried out under the direct supervision of a qualified veterinary surgeon.


With the gag in place the powerfloat can be used by the vets to painlessly remove sharp edges on the horses teeth.

For more information, please click  here to see our Dentistry section on the website

It Should Not Happen to a SimplyHorses Vet

Well quick post at the end of another bank holiday Monday, some interesting cases including live set of twins and unfortunately a difficult foaling with dead foal. One of the twins is very weak so lots of nursing a some luck may see us through. In 26 years I have seen 2 sets of twins make it to adulthood, though both sets were always small 😉

I also saw a horse that had had a lucky escape with lots of deep wounds but non life threatening. It never ceases to amaze me how horses can damage themselves, reminds me of talking to a American vet who related the tale, of coming out one day to find his mare with all 4 feet off the ground impaled on a wooden fence post. He could see this post as a bulge under the skin on her back!! Once the post was cut and the mare back with all 4 feet on the ground, the post was removed and the mare never looked back!!! The post had run up the side of her abdomen under the skin and not penetrated any important structures, intestines, peritoneal cavity etc 😉 As he said it could only happen to a vet.

Paul

SimplyHorses Laminitis update

Simply defined, laminitis is inflammation of the sensitive laminae in the hoof of the horse, caused by stressful events, trauma, infection, or parturition. This definition sheds little light on the destructive process that occurs within the hoof or how to treat a horse afected with this condition.

Laminitis is commonly known as a secondary process and is a result of a variety of primary processes. Some of the primary causes that initiate laminitis are grain overload, colitis, colic, diarrhoea, Cushing’s disease, retained placenta, exhaustion, direct hoof trauma, excessive weight baring on a single limb change in diet or environment and stressful travel.

Once the laminitic process has begun it can be classified into the developmental, acute, and chronic phases. Treatment plans are based largely upon the stage of the disease and the amount of damage to the laminae

The developmental phase typically begins with the onset of the primary process (e.g. hoof trauma or colic). Symptoms such as elevated digital pulse and warmth in the hooves are typically mild and generally present within 12-24 hours. Treatment for horses in the developmental stage of laminitis should be proactive, not reactive, and based largely on the probability of the disease occurring. Most treatment goals are aimed at eliminating the cause of the episode, preserving circulation, providing axial support and reducing the bodies biomechanical influence on it self.

No one treatment regiment has proven to be effective and will they vary largely among vets and farriers. Eliminating the primary process is generally the first step in the treatment process. Consistent quality Radiographs of the feet are essential at this point. Some vets have also shown venograms to be  helpful in providing a prognosis and establishing a treatment plan at this stage. However other equine vets are not convinced on the true value of this diagnostic modality. Modified shoes, various equine  Boots, axial support and ice therapy have been very useful at SimplyHorses.

The acute stage begins with the onset of pain and lameness, typically with in 24-48 hours, and lasts until the pain and lameness subsides and the horse recovers or displacement (rotation, sinking or both) of PIII occurs. Horses in the acute phase generally but NOT always exhibit common signs such as, elevated digital pulse, warm hooves and painful response at the toe to palpation and/or hoof testers. Loss of appetite, limited intake of fluids and the typical laminitic stance  are also commonly observed signs. In this phase the inflammatory process is at its climax and blood supply to the digit may be severely compromised. This hypoperfusion within the digit may lead to ischemia, necrosis, and oedema compromising the integrity of the laminae. Aggressive treatment during the acute phase generally provides a more favourable outcome and may preserve the integrity of the laminae. Use of non steriodial anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) such as bute to control pain is common practice. But must be carefully controlled by your vet. As previously stated, eliminating the primary process is generally the first step in the treatment process.

Consistent quality Radiographs of the feet and accurate soft tissue measurement are critical. Treatments will also vary largely among practioners and no system has been proven to be universally effective.

Treatment should also target reducing the biomechanical forces that further compromise weakened laminae. This is a very important aspect of the treatment and is often neglected. Preserving the circulation to the hoof, and reducing the bodies’ biomechanical influence on it self are important aims in a treatment plan.

The chronic phase begins when clinical or radiographic signs of displacement are noted. This rotation and/or sinking of PIII occur as a result of a failed laminar bond, which suspends the bone within the hoof capsule. This displacement compresses the corium at the coronary band as well as under the tip of PIII, resulting in further compromised perfusion, abnormal hoof function, and chronic pain.

Treatment of chronic laminitis is primarily based on therapeutic trimming and shoeing, while continuing to control pain and the initial trigger. Treatment plans will be based largely upon the owner goals, damage to the feet, type of displacement and practioners experience.

Generally goals of therapeutic shoeing, aided by radiographs, are to restore PIII’s orientation to the ground establishing proper bony alignment and to restore normal function of the hoof.

Dramatically reducing the biomechanical exertion of the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) is paramount to successful treatment as well. These efforts allow new laminae to generate as the hoof grows, eventually providing stability to PIII. It is important however to note that the amount of damage incurred during the early stages is directly related to how well a horse will recover.

Therapeutic shoeing may be accompanied by surgical intervention; performing a deep digital tenotamy allows us to realign the horses’ boney column and generate a new laminar attachment with minimal mechanical influence from the deep digital flexor tendon. Again treatment plans will vary largely among vets; rocker shoes, rail shoes, wood clogs, glue on shoes have been useful at SimplyHorses.

Treating laminitis at any stage can be a daunting task.  Awareness by owners, veterinarians and farriers of horses that are high risk as well as early diagnoses and treatment according to the probability the disease occurring rather than waiting for laminitis to occur may certainly provide the most favourable outcome. It is also important to recruit a vet/farrier team that keeps realistic goals in mind such as, maintaining comfort of the horse, preserving and/or restoring adequate perfusion to the hoof and reducing the biomechanical influence of the DDFT.