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Summer Care for Your Horse

  1. Besides your local vet, are their reputable on-line companies for fecal testing to help establish your deworming protocol? If so, which companies are the best and most reliable? (View Answer)

    I am so glad to hear that you are planning for fecal egg counts on your horses. As you already know, fecal egg counts allow us to detect the horses that are shedding eggs into the environment. At times, these horses may need to be dewormed more frequently than their herd-mates to reduce the parasite burden placed on the pasture.  

    I am not currently aware of an online laboratory for fecal egg counts. I would suggest talking with your regular veterinarian to see how often they recommend doing the testing for your herd. This can vary based on location, herd size and parasite history on the farm. They may also discuss options for testing with you.

    Thank you for the question and for taking great care of those horses. Rebecca Stinson, DVM, Reidsville, NC

  2. Do hoof supplements need to be given year round? I live in Central New York and this past winter my horse's hooves chipped very badly, necessitating front shoes. I decided to give him SmartPak's double strength Farrier's formula, which they improved quite a bit. Could this positive change have to do with the environment and temperature, or more likely the supplement rather than the other two factors? If hoof problems are very likely seasonal, then perhaps he won't need the extra Biotin during the warmer months. (View Answer)

    Hoof condition is influenced by a complex set of factors. You definitely hit on some of the key components to a healthy hoof.

    Hoof quality is influenced by both the external and internal environment. The internal factors include nutritional status, health status, and hydration status. Hoof supplements generally target a few of the nutritional components, which can help with hoof quality. These include Biotin, zinc and amino acids (building blocks for proteins). These can be especially helpful in horses on a low volume diet who may not be meeting all of their trace mineral needs.

    Additionally, weather can play a key role in hoof quality, as you mentioned. We commonly see hoof quality degrade in wet conditions (very common in my part of upstate NY back in the day) as well as extremely dry conditions. Keeping feet clean and dry is key to preventing hoof breakdown.

    It is quite possible that your horse may not need the double strength (high level of nutrients) in the summer months due to both better access to good nutrition through fresh pasture as opposed to hay and the changes in weather conditions. I would encourage you to talk with your horse's care team including both your veterinarian and your farrier to discuss the internal and external conditions of your horse's hooves. They can help guide you and be certain that there are not underlying health conditions causing the poor hoof quality.

    Enjoy the long summer days with some time with your horses! Rebecca Stinson, DVM, Reidsville, NC

  3. I am wondering what could be causing my horse to cough. Mister is 20-years-old and has had a cough since about the middle of last week. He will cough 2-3 times like he's trying to clear his throat maybe a couple of times an hour. He also seems to create a lot of saliva in his mouth. He's healthy and eats good. He just keeps coughing. (View Answer)

    This is a really important question and I want to get the answer to you right away! There are certainly a multitude of causes for a cough in a 20 year old to cough. My concern is that his is occurring frequently and is new and unusual for your horse.

    Common causes of cough may include inflammatory or infectious causes. At times we may see a cough develop due to infectious agents such as Strangles which is caused by a bacterium or Influenza which is caused by a virus. You describe that he is eating well so that makes me hopeful that he is not running a fever or suffering other ill effects often seen with an infection.

    Inflammatory disease like Recurrent Airway Obstruction or Inflammatory Airway Disease can also lead to a cough. These are seen commonly as a reaction to things in the environment such as pasture grass pollen, dust, or other factors. When associated with summer time occurrence, we usually see it associated with pollen. This condition often will worsen with time and repeated exposure.  

    In either inflammatory or infectious airway disease, we can see a reduction in the horse's ability to cool itself in the summer heat. This can lead to heat stress and rarely, heat exhaustion. 

    Please consider scheduling an appointment with your regular veterinarian at your earliest convenience to help your horse get the appropriate medication to help him breathe easy! Rebecca Stinson, DVM, Reidsville, NC

  4. I have a traditional 12-year-old cob mare. She suffers with mallanders and salanders but no mite issues. During the summer months it flares up dramatically and this year we have noticed that it appears to be grass related in its severity. Because of past treatment, she is very difficult to treat - can only be clipped with sedation and washed with care. Any suggestions would be welcome. (View Answer)

    Thank you for your question. I had to do some research as we do not routinely see these problems in my practice.  Unfortunately, what I have learned is that this is often a very frustrating process that leads to chronic skin inflammation at the back of the knees and front of the hocks.

    As you mentioned, keeping the area clean and dry is essential. Also, mites may add to the problem. Based upon your description, it sounds as though you know these components. I would recommend working with your veterinarian to possibly sedate for clipping the area and evaluating for a secondary infection.

    Thank you for broadening my knowledge. Good luck with your mare. Rebecca Stinson, DVM, Reidsville, NC

  5. On May 21st, my 7-year-old mare would not take her treat. She was lethargic and acting colicy. I contacted my veterinarian and walked her until they arrived. A rectal exam was performed as well as a nasogastic tube. There was some blood that came back in the tube, but believed it was from insertion. She then received banamine and dormosedan. She was also given four bags of fluids. The first two were given bolus and the next two were given slowly throughout the night. I stayed with her in the stall and watched her have intermittent pain. By 6:30am, she collapsed and the vet had to put her down. She had very cold extremities and brick red gums with the dark red toxic line. One week later, my 17-year-old mare presented with the same symptoms. I took her to an emergency clinic that was equipped to perform colic surgery, if necessary. The attending veterinarian said she had colitis. She received pain medication, fluids and plasma throughout the night. She too collapsed and had to be euthanized. She had very cold extremities and purple gums. The necropcy report stated she had lesions in her colon from colitis. There were no twists, torsions, impactions or parasites. She was negative for salmonella and e. coli but positive for clostridium perfringens. The veterinarian believed that was likely what happened to my first horse and had caught it from her. I don't understand how or why this happened. They were on 10 acres with very little grain. What could have been done to prevent this from happening? I have two remaining horses that are doing well. I have included probiotics in their diet. Will that help any? (View Answer)

    I would like to first say how sorry I am for your loss. Losing two dear friends is difficult to imagine.

    The symptoms you describe are certainly those of severe colic. The changes in temperature of the extremities and toxic mucous membranes indicate severe changes in circulation. Clostridium perfringens is a bacteria that can grow excessively in the digestive tract under certain conditions. It is very unlikely that it would be passed from horse to horse.

    I have no reason to suspect that your other horses will develop colitis associated with this bacteria. There are other infections that can lead to colitis including Potomac Horse Fever and Corona Virus. PHF is not transferred between horses and Corona is not likely to cause this level of disease.

    I am sorry for your loss and I hope that your other horses continue to do well. Consider scheduling a consultation with your veterinarian to discuss colic prevention in your management. Rebecca Stinson, DVM, Reidsville, NC