Parasitic worms live in the intestines of horses and ponies. Smaller numbers of worms can be tolerated causing no harmful effects. Larger worm infestations can cause a wide range of illnesses including diarrhea, colic and, in some cases, death. Proper pasture management and a regular worming protocol will assist in keeping the intestinal population of worms under control. Developing the proper worming protocol for your equine is best decided with your veterinarian as some equine patients are more susceptible to infestation than others.
The term “colic” means abdominal pain. There are several symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms include: dullness, adopting a "straining to urinate" stance, repeatedly looking or biting at the flanks or abdomen, repeatedly laying down and rolling or thrashing uncontrollably, or pawing insistently at the ground.
Different types of colic require different treatment, so an accurate diagnosis is the first step. When a horse appears uncomfortable it is best to contact a veterinarian. Hand walking the horse until the veterinarian arrives is highly recommended, if the horse is able to walk. Many colic cases respond positively to analgesics, such as banamine. Simple large colon impactions can respond to treatment with stomach lubrication such as oil, water and electrolytes. Some cases do require urgent medical and even surgical treatment to correct the problem. Colic, if left untreated, can be life threatening.
Gastric ulcers are a common medical condition in horses and foals. Numerous publications have identified that up to 60% of show horses have ulcers and up to 90% of racehorses may develop gastric ulcers. There are many causes for stomach ulcer development, stress being the most likely culprit. Horses may become stressed during routine activities, such as training, travel, competition, shows and events, or changes in their regular schedule such as lay-up due to sickness or injury.
There are numerous clinical signs associated with gastric ulcers. Typical symptoms include poor performance, dull coat, picky eating, and colic. The diagnosis of gastric ulcers can sometimes be difficult because the signs can be subtle and easy to overlook. The primary goal of treatment is suppression of gastric acid which in turn creates an environment conducive to healing. The most commonly used product for this is Omeprazole.
Laminitis is inflammation of the sensitive layers of the hoof. In a foundering horse or pony the lamina detaches between the distal phalanx and the inner hoof wall causing unrelenting pain. This inflammation is triggered by the interference of blood supply to the sensitive layers of the foot. Conditions that cause this interference include; overfeeding, severe injury (resulting in increased weight bearing on opposite limb), neglected feet, toxemia associated with infection, adverse reactions to certain drugs, and excessive concussion. Some breeds are more predisposed than others to laminitis.
Many cases of laminitis, or “founder”, happen in the spring time when grass grows rapidly. At this time horses that are already obese are at a greater risk of laminitis. Proper monitoring and limitation of turnout can greatly reduce the risk of laminitis in predisposed and overweight horses.
Laminitis is very serious and requires immediate veterinary care. It is important that you notify your veterinarian at the first sign of any symptoms. Feet may feel abnormally warm to the touch or the digital pulse may be stronger. Horse may stand with hind limbs well under the body and forelimbs stretched out in front in an effort to keep weight off painful front feet. In cases where all four feet are affected, horses may lay down for extended periods of time. Severe cases will result in the horse unable to move at all or bear any weight on the affected limb(s). Contact your veterinarian immediately for treatment options.
Endoscopy is an examination of the respiratory system in horses. A scope is passed up the nasal cavity, allowing the veterinarian to diagnose upper respiratory infections or discover abnormal form or function of the anatomy. It can also be used to monitor heeling and maturation of the horses throat, to check for Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhaging, or to inspect for excess or infectious discharge.