West Nile virus was first reported in the northeast United States in 1999. Since then, cases have been reported in almost every state and several Canadian provinces. Spread by mosquitoes, the virus can infect humans, horses, donkeys, mules, birds, and a host of other animals ranging from bears to alligators. Many infected horses are asymptomatic or show only slight fever or listlessness for a few days.
During normal bone growth, cartilage is remodeled into bone. It is during this physiologic revision that ossification goes awry and OCD lesions originate.
While obesity-associated laminitis is not well understood among researchers and veterinarians, affected horses may go on to lead otherwise healthy lives if treatment is swift and diligent. Recommended treatments center around corrective trimming and shoeing, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain, and strict diet. Forced exercise can be imposed once all laminitis-related pain has abated.
Equine colic is loosely defined as abdominal pain. The causes are numerous, and the signs of discomfort (rolling, kicking at the abdomen, pawing, sweating) are familiar to most experienced horse handlers. Colic is one of the most common health emergencies, with an incidence of just over 9 cases per 100 horses in an average year. It is a leading reason for surgery and a frequent cause of death in horses.
A device known as the Cornell collar has been developed to reposition and hold the larynx and hyoid bone in place, thus preventing throat tissues from collapsing and blocking the passage of air.
For mares with known or suspected fescue exposure, managers should be sure the foaling is attended and a veterinarian is available. This is recommended even if mares have been treated with domperidone or fluphenazine. The attendant may need to cut the thickened placenta or help the mare expel a very large foal that is several weeks overdue.
Horses recovering from colic, surgery, high fever, or colitis can present many challenges for their owners, but one that is frequently overlooked is how to feed horses through the illnesses. While countless researchers have devoted years of study to determine the proper nutritional balance for horses of different ages and workloads, little has been done to outline proper nutrition for the sick adult horse.
Developed for human use in breaking up kidney stones, the technique has been adopted by veterinarians to reduce pain and stimulate healing in some types of injuries. "Extracorporeal" refers to the fact that the treatment is given from outside the horse's body, in contrast to oral medications, injections, or surgery that are considered more invasive.
Stumbling, lack of energy, reluctance to back, and stomping of the hind limbs may be early indications of a growing problem, but these signs are often overlooked or attributed to other causes. Shivers occurs most frequently in draft horses and warmbloods, although the condition has been seen in other breeds as well. There is considerable evidence of heritability. One researcher reports a higher incidence in stallions and geldings than in mares.
A horse that has had strangles seems to acquire partial immunity lasting several months to several years, and subsequent infections tend to be less severe. There is some evidence that horses allowed to recover on their own have a longer-lasting immunity than those that are treated with antibiotics.
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