Urban Legends of the Horse World

Urban Legends of the Horse World

Tuesdays with Tony

Let’s talk about some of my favorite topics that help horse owners spend money needlessly. I like to call these the Urban Legends of the Horse World. Some have a bit of fact, and I emphasize, a bit, behind them. Some are wild tales meant to scare children around campfires at night. Either way, I watch a lot of horse people spend a lot of money or time on them for no good reason. Don’t worry, Tony’s here to help you out.

Colics and Walking

I’m starting with this one since it’s one of my life’s missions to get humans to stop walking colicky horses! If your horse lays down to roll, it will NOT cause their intestines to twist. In fact, it’s the other way around. Horses become intensely painful and roll because their intestines twisted. I know you’ve heard this one from me before, and I’m saying it again. Do.Not.Walk.Your.Colic! Okay, I’m ambling down from my soapbox now.

Hindgut Ulcers

I’m prepared to face the wrath of the internet on this one. Hindgut ulcers in the way you are thinking of them aren’t a thing. Yes, my Docs see hindgut ulcers, but it’s rare and is ALWAYS secondary to massive doses of NSAIDs like bute. For the most part these drugs are safe, but if given in too high a dose for too long, they quite literally destroy the hindgut. For some horses, this is one dose at a high level, for some it’s 4-5 days of high dosing, and for some it’s weeks of overdosing. These drugs are easy to use all willy nilly, but it’s important to check in with my Docs about best practices. Horses with hindgut ulcers are incredibly sick, and it can be life-threatening. They don’t experience a vague sense of unease, or balk at your leg, or pick up the canter incorrectly. They try to die. 

Okay, now for the tiny kernel of truth behind hindgut ulcers. The more all the amazing gut researchers out there learn about the critters that live in the GI tract, the more they know they don’t know. I think they should ask a cat. We know everything. Just ask us! Anyway, what is very clearly known is that the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that live in there are all important, and are all delicate little flowers. Any little thing upsets them. There are a million solutions proposed for managing this upset. There are two that have science behind them: forage and Saccharomyces boulardii. That’s it. Not hindgut buffers, not magical hindgut happiness potion, not vaguely labeled hindgut supporters. Hay and maybe some yeast. Mostly hay. Want to keep your horse’s hindgut happier? Feed them more hay! 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Stomach Ulcers

What? Are you crazy, Tony? Are you saying stomach ulcers aren’t a thing?? No. I’m not actually saying that. I am saying that a bajillion of the things out there that say they will fix it, won’t. Stomach buffers will help the symptoms temporarily, but not long term. Many of the wonder cures out there are buffers. Treatment is aimed at first knowing what kind of ulcers you’ve got: squamous or glandular, then targeting treatment to the type, then modifying life and diet to avoid recurrence. Wonder cures which involve two pumps or scoops or packets of something random do not factor in here. 

Joint Supplements. Okay, Supplements in General.

Let’s evaluate the size of a horse. I’m going to be kind and say the average horse weighs 1100 pounds. Yeah, that’s right, I’m saying most of you humans have overweight horses. Let’s look at the average supplement: 2 ounces. That’s the size of the scoop. That’s 0.00002 pounds per pound of horse body weight. Chances are good that supplement isn’t doing much. For example, when my Docs recommend flax seed for itchy skin, they recommend 1 POUND per day minimum. Think about what is in your supplement, and then the quantity you are feeding before expecting it to do a lot. The other thing about supplements is that they are the wild, wild west of the nutrition world. This is true for human supplements, too. Pretty much as long as you don’t say your supplement treats a medical condition, you can say it. My Docs can help you evaluate supplement choices, but know the answer will be just don’t do it 95% of the time. 

There are a whole lot of urban legends out there in the horse world. For 99.999999% of the horses in the world the right answer is a good diet based on 1-2% of their bodyweight as roughage, only enough concentrate to supplement vitamins, minerals, and protein to support workload, clean water, and turnout and/or exercise to keep the body moving. The rest of it separates your money from your wallet. Horses do that well enough already! Talk to my Docs for help sorting out the urban legends from the truth. 

Until next week,

Tony

P.S. If you are thirsty for knowledge on the things I talked about here, you should go listen to the podcast my humans do. They have a whole lot more to say about this stuff than I do. To be fair, I’m limited to 1,000 words, and they can talk for 30 minutes to an hour. I’m not staying awake that long unless I’m blocking traffic in the Clinic parking lot. Anyway, you can find all 90+ episodes of Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth by clicking here, or subscribing wherever you get your podcasts. You’ll thank me later. 

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Equine Podiatry

Equine Podiatry

Tuesdays with Tony

It was so wonderful to see everyone at our seminar Thursday night! I haven’t been feeling like myself lately. Seeing all of your smiling faces really lifted my mood and made me feel much better. It’s been so long since we’ve been able to have in-person events, and I’m excited that we are starting up monthly seminars again.

This week I want to recap Thursday’s seminar topic, Equine Podiatry, just in case you missed anything. I consider myself one extremely lucky cat to be in the presence of such incredible doctors every day. Dr. Staples is no exception; she has been a wonderful addition to the Springhill Team and her knowledge of all things horse feet far exceeds that of mine, which is saying a lot. Dr. Staples is an Equine Podiatrist (which means she’s both a Veterinarian and a Certified Journeyman Farrier), and Thursday night’s seminar was an introduction to all things equine podiatry. We discussed everything from anatomy and conformation to common issues and diseases.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

You all know the saying, “no hoof, no horse,” and there is no truer saying. The number of soundness problems my docs see that start from hoof problems is tenfold. Conformation plays a huge role in how the anatomy of your horse’s hoof is affected. No horse has the perfect conformation or the perfect feet, but what you do with the imperfections can pave the way for your horse’s comfort and soundness.

A normal hoof will have a straight hoof-pastern axis. It will also have even wall height medially and laterally with a frog centrally set that hits the ground evenly and lightly. When a horse has a normal hoof, they are more capable of withstanding the pressures applied to the foot and leg with movement. A normal hoof will have a 3-5 degree positive palmar/plantar angle which allows the horse to move his feet in ways that the digital cushion can support and that the tendons and ligaments are not overly strained.

Sloping hooves have a broken back hoof-pastern angle often because the horse has a long pastern. These horses are your flat-footed horses. Their frogs often hit the ground with more force and absorb more of the concussive forces. Horses with flat feet lose a large portion of their squishy digital cushion, they are prone to long toes and underrun heels. This also makes them more susceptible to have a negative palmar/plantar angle of their coffin bone. The more negative the palmar/plantar angle, the more tension is placed on the tendons and ligaments which can lead to tears and injury.

Upright hooves result in a broken forward hoof-pastern angle, which gives the appearance of a club-like foot. It doesn’t necessarily mean the horse if club footed, it means the hoof is extremely vertical, the frog rarely hits the ground, and the toe of the sole ends up taking on most of the concussive forces when the horse moves. These horses are often foot sore at the toe because as the horse moves, it’s basically stubbing his toe with every step. An upright foot also put undue stress on a horse’s tendons and ligaments which can lead to soundness problems, including tears. Cats are made perfectly and never have issues with conformation or anatomy, so learning about how a small change in structure can result in catastrophic problems for a horse really made me appreciate 1) cats, and 2) our farriers for keeping these horse feet in working order.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Dr. Staples talked a bit about different diseases that can affect the hoof, and how conformation can cause abnormal forces, which can lead to disease, and how disease can lead to the hoof structure becoming abnormally shaped. Systemic diseases such as sepsis or endocrine diseases (including Cushings) can lead to hoof problems.

Laminitis is a disease of the hoof that plagues horse owners. It is the 9-letter word of the horse world and is one word horse owners never want to hear. Systemic disease increases a horse’s likelihood of developing laminitis. Laminitis occurs when the Velcro (lamina) that holds together the hoof wall and the coffin bone became inflamed and starts to separate. Separation of the lamina allows for downward rotation and/or sinking of the coffin bone within the hoof capsule. Similarly, disease of the hoof such as white line disease can lead to the separation of the lamina and result in laminitis if it’s not treated quickly and effectively. Yet another cause of laminitis is injury to a limb resulting in inflammation of the opposite limb because the horse is putting most of his weight on the limb opposite the injury.

Not everything that affects the hoof results in laminitis. Conformation can affect how a horse’s hoof grows which can result in abnormal forces on the hooves. Conformation can be addressed by your farrier and changes in shoeing can be used to help compensate for the abnormal forces caused by poor conformation. Poor trimming/shoeing can also cause abnormal forces. Toes that are left too long or toes that are trimmed too short can cause soundness problems and put undue stress on your horse’s limbs. A good working relationship between your veterinarian and farrier is essential to correcting trimming/shoeing problems.

The number of problems that can affect feet is innumerable. Nothing is more frustrating for an owner than an abscess. Chronic abscesses are even more frustrating. The shape of a horse’s hoof can make them more prone to abscesses, the environment can be the cause of abscess, and irregularities such as tumors within the hoof capsule can lead to abscesses.  Flat-footed horses with long toes tend to develop abscess more frequently than horses with a normal hoof. Florida is a hotspot for hoof abscesses in horses. It’s wet 90% of the year. Horses are bred to be in drier environments. The constant wetness in Florida keeps horse’s hooves moist, and opens up micro holes in the foot that allows bacteria to seep in resulting in an abscess. If your horse is one of those horses who has repeat abscesses, I highly advise you to get your veterinarian involved. There could be a much deeper issue that requires veterinary intervention.

Occasionally hoses can develop benign tumors in their hoof which causes pressure points on the coffin bone resulting in bone loss and recurrent abscesses. These tumors are called keratomas. They can result in lameness, but they can also be present without issue. The only way to diagnose a keratoma is with radiographs. This is where your veterinarian can provide insight to the inside workings of your horse’s hooves.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

This leads me to my next soap box: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And this is where you all have to play your part. Be involved, be aware and know when you need to seek help. You know your horse better than anyone else which means you know when something is off. Your vet and farrier know your horse pretty well too, and having them involved in wellness care for your horse can prevent hoof problems and identify them early should they arise.

Routine blood work to screen for Cushings and routine radiographs that are shared with your farrier can help identify problems early on and help to resolve the complication before it becomes a major, potentially life-threatening issue. Communication between your veterinarian and farrier about your horse’s overall health and hooves can result in the prevention of disease and hoof worries. Therefore, take it from this old cat, have your horse’s feet attended to by your farrier every 4 to 8 weeks (depending on your farrier’s recommendations), continue wellness prevention with your veterinarian every 6 months, and don’t be afraid to call your veterinarian if you believe there is any change to your horse. I promise you, it will save you a lot of money, a lot of heart ache and potentially your horse’s life.

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. You can find the video of the seminar over on my YouTube Channel if you didn’t see it live. There are a lot of other videos there that you might find useful, too. For example, you can Click Here to see a video that explains how to assess your horse’s feet and see if the angles are right. See how hard I work for you humans and your horses? You’re welcome. Just make sure you scratch my chin next time you see me.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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The Basics of Horse Health

The Basics of Horse Health

Tuesdays with Tony

It’s January, which means two things: it’s cold, which I hate, and Springhill Equine Wellness Program sign-ups, which I love, are in full swing. Let’s talk about the cold first. I have asked my humans repeatedly to make the temperature outside more to my liking. Their only offer to solve this problem is a horrible plaid jacket they attempt to make me wear. This is a completely unacceptable solution. Thus I sit at the front door and demand the repeated opening and closing of the door so that I may move inside or out depending on my minute-by-minute temperature desires. I feel it’s a solid plan. The humans seem to object, but I ignore them. On to the thing you probably care more about: the Wellness Program, in other words, your horse’s basic healthcare needs. What are they, and why do my Docs do what they do?

The Exam

Every horse should get a good basic exam every time they get a vaccine. This isn’t a fancy exam. It’s a heart, lungs, gut sounds, my Doc looking your horse over exam. It’s tempting to wonder what the heck they’re doing during this quick exam, and how much information they can gather. The answer is a lot. Giving a highly trained professional 5 minutes to look over your horse, take a listen, and talk to you about what you and your horse are up to will get you more information than all the hours you can put in with The Google Machine. 

During that time my Docs are assessing your horse’s heart rate and beat. Is it regular? Is the rate appropriate for the fitness level your horse should be at? They are listening for early signs of asthma, a ridiculously common Florida horse problem. Gut sounds tell them if there is a hint of sand, or too much gas, or maybe some impending diarrhea. All the while they are looking at all your horse’s other body parts. You may not realize it because my Docs are slick like this, but they’re evaluating feet, muscles, topline, haircoat, eyes, and a million other things in that 5 minutes, all while integrating the information you’re giving them about your horse’s eating, drinking, and exercise habits. I dare you to get all that from the Faceplace!

Vaccines

Serious Tony here. Encephalitis is EVERYWHERE in Florida, and Rabies is really bad. Vaccines are important! Every single horse in the United States should have Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Tetanus, West Nile Virus, and Rabies vaccines yearly. If you live in the swampy, mosquito-infested land of Florida, the encephalitis and West Nile vaccines should be given at least every 6 months. Do you know what happens when you guys try to keep track of this yourselves? It doesn’t happen every 6 months. Often it doesn’t even happen every year. These diseases are deadly, and heartbreaking. Eastern encephalitis carries a 95% mortality rate. West Nile horses rarely return to their previous level of competition. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

If your horse is around other horses, they should also be vaccinated for rhinopneumonitis and influenza. These are the respiratory viruses of the horse world. Horses get them from other horses. That means it’s not just for show horses. If you trail ride around other horses a lot, your horse should get these vaccines. 

There are other vaccines out there, like Strangles and Potomac Horse Fever. Some horses need these. Some don’t. The best person to determine this is your veterinarian. Not a random person you met at the feed store, not your farrier, trainer, or Facebook friend. TikTok should also not be a guide here. If they aren’t a vet, they don’t decide. That’s some Tony wisdom right there.

Know how to best ensure your horse gets the vaccines they should, when they should? Sign up for Springhill Equine’s Wellness Program. So easy, even a dog can do it. Trust me. You humans can’t keep track of this without some feline help!

Coggins

I’ve got entire blogs on why one should have a Coggins test, and how it’s spread. All the info you need on this. This week I’m here to say once again: sign up for our Wellness program so you’ve got your Coggins when you need it. “Emergency” Coggins really shouldn’t be a thing. If you think you might take your horse off property, get a Coggins on them when my Docs are there doing vaccines. It makes life much easier when you suddenly decide to take Flicka for a trail ride on Saturday, but realize on Thursday evening you don’t have a Coggins.

Dentals

Big old Tony soapbox here. Dental care should be performed by your veterinarian. Just this past week we saw a horse who had their dental care performed LAST WEEK by a lay dental floater who had missed a giant tumor on the jaw. I know. I know. That’s not how my random person with an internet certificate in dentistry works. But it is how they work. Your horse’s mouth should be evaluated at least yearly by a veterinarian. That means sedation, a speculum, and a bright light. That means a veterinarian. Sedation can only be legally administered by a veterinarian. 

You can tell this is a pain point for this cat. It’s because my poor Docs have to handle the repercussions of bad dental care. Often this means a horse not eating for days to weeks after a dental float, serious health problems from bad sedation choices, and missed issues often in the back of the mouth. Not to mention, you are out money for a service that was performed badly. 

Okay, I know that was a lot, but it’s enough to get my hackles up. Also, good, consistent dental care is the single greatest thing you can do for your horse to help them have a happy, long life eating normal food. As those teeth decline, feeding becomes a huge challenge. Take care of them early and often, and you will save a ton of money on feed over the lifetime of your horse. This doesn’t even include the benefit of improved communication while you’re riding them.

Deworming

Last but not least in the basics of horse healthcare is deworming. By this I do not mean place a deworming product in your horse’s mouth every month, six weeks, at the farrier visit, based on the lunar calendar, or some other crazy horse-person archaic deworming schedule. That’s right, I’m talking about you, horse people. Proper parasite management involves knowing fecal egg counts. This allows targeted deworming of the horse’s dropping the most parasites around their world, and NO one else. 

Let me also state right here that just because one horse is high doesn’t mean all the other horses on a property are. This is so 1990’s thinking. Be hip and modern. Use fecal egg counts to guide deworming. For Florida, this means check fecal egg counts once yearly generally during what counts as our Winter, Spring, or early Summer. Only horses with high egg counts are dewormed. In the late Fall, everyone gets dewormed with an ivermectin/praziquantel product. My Docs recommend Equimax for a variety of reasons. That’s it. See, I just saved you money, time, and argument with your horse over taking their dewormer. 

Know how to get all this stuff for your horse, save time and money, and have my awesome group of humans keep track of all of it for you? Sign up for our Wellness Program. Time is running out to get in on the plans. Signing up is easy. Just go here: https://springhillequine.com/wellness-sign-up-sheet/ and do the things. Now go back to perusing the internet for the thing it does best: cat videos!

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. If you aren’t subscribed to my YouTube Channel, you are missing out on a ton of free amazing video content. New videos go up all the time, so subscribe so you see my new videos as they are released!

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Horse Poop

Horse Poop

Tuesdays with Tony

So tell me, what’s the deal with you horse people and constantly checking out your horse’s poop? Seriously, horses should just cover that stuff up like cats do. My docs tell me that monitoring a horse’s fecal material daily is actually very important. Apparently they haven’t been telling me, but they check out mine too when they clean my litter box. Humans are so strange! Since I discovered this, I’ve learned that a horse’s poop can tell you a lot about their overall gastrointestinal health, so maybe it’s not so weird. From color to consistency to frequency, all poop matters. Here’s what I found out:

Color

When we think of horse manure we think of nice round, brown poop balls. However, as veterinarians and horse owners, we can see all different colors of manure. From the usual brown to green to red and black and everything in between it has all been seen before. But what do these colors really mean, and when is it time to be concerned? Manure reflects what has been consumed by the horse. There’s something to be said about the saying, you are what you eat. If the majority of your horse’s diet is fresh, green alfalfa, you can bet that when you see a fresh pile of manure from your horse it’s going to be green. If the majority of your horse’s diet is coastal hay you would expect to see light brown manure.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Where we start to worry is if we are seeing odd colors like red or black. Red/orange-tinged manure could be a result of the consumption of red leaves/foliage. Alternatively, it could be the result of a frank bleed in the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract. A bleed in the gastrointestinal tract can be life-threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention. It’s not uncommon to see blood in dog and cat feces, which is commonly caused by a parasitic infestation. When horses have parasites, we don’t see blood in their manure. Blood in horse manure is very concerning and should not be left unattended.

Similarly, black manure can be an indicator of a life-threatening problem for your horse. Black in manure is an indicator of digested blood meaning it has traveled from the upper gastrointestinal tract (including the stomach) through the entire GI and has been digested resulting in black, tarry fecal material called Melena. It can be an indicator of a stomach ulcer that’s actively bleeding, or ulcers in the small intestine, both of which can lead to perforation of the gastrointestinal tract and resulting in a septic, very sick horse.

Consistency

The consistency of manure can tell us a lot about their overall health. Horses should have formed, moist, shiny fecal balls that form a nice pile when passed. A very common symptom my veterinarians see is diarrhea. Diarrhea in and of itself has multiple different consistencies. There can be normal fecal balls with liquid diarrhea throughout, cow-patty diarrhea, the kind of diarrhea that splatters everywhere, and the liquid kind that paints the stall walls. Whatever kind of diarrhea a horse has, it’s not normal. It’s not always easy to pin-point the cause of the diarrhea and it can take a lot of trial and error to figure out exactly what’s causing it.

Springhill Equine Veterinary ClinicOne of the most common causes of diarrhea in horses is sand. You’re probably saying to yourself, there is no way my horse has sand, Tony, he lives on lush green pasture year-round and never has access to sand. You would be wrong. Somehow, someway, all horses find a way to consume sand. When they consume enough sand, it causes irritation of the colon as it moves which can result in diarrhea. Sand Clear is a great way to prevent the accumulation of sand, but once a horse has excessive sand in his GI tract the only way to resolve it is to pass a nasogastric tube and administer psyllium and mineral oil for three consecutive days.

Another cause of diarrhea can be bad dentition. Horses who have not had their teeth floated regularly or who have dental issues can have trouble masticating (chewing) their forage, leaving long stems to be digested. Those stems act like fingernails scraping a chalk board, causing inflammation and irritation of the GI tract resulting in diarrhea.

Horses can also develop irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes it’s impossible to figure out what is causing diarrhea, and for that we use the term irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, parasitism can be a cause of diarrhea. Whatever the cause, diarrhea is not a symptom to be taken lightly and always requires the evaluation of your horse’s veterinarian. It can lead to dehydration, severe illness, colic and death. Always consult your veterinarian if your horse develops diarrhea.

You’ve read my blog so you are familiar with colic and what causes colic. But did you know that your horse’s manure can also indicate that a horse may be prone to colic? Hard, dry, small fecal balls are an indication that a horse is not drinking enough water. Recall my blog from a couple weeks ago about leading a horse to water and making it drink: here is the time where that really comes into play. Dehydration is a major component in equine colic.

When a horse doesn’t drink enough, their manure become hard and dry and it makes the likelihood of developing an impaction increase tenfold. If you notice that your horse’s fecal material seems a little more dry than usual or the balls are a little smaller than normal, that’s your first sign that you need to get more water into your horse.

Occasionally the docs will see mucus-covered fecal material. This can look like long stringy worms or even spaghetti woven in and around the fecal balls. Mucus in horse poop means that the manure has been sitting in the gastrointestinal tract for too long because there’s not enough moisture to move it through.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

You should know what normal poop looks like for your horse. Pay attention when it changes and know that any change in consistency can be an indication that your horse needs to see your veterinarian.

Frequency

As a crazy horse person, you probably know your horse’s pooping habits better than you know yourself, which means you know exactly how many piles of manure your horse usually passes in a 24-hour period. Sometimes, if a horse does not pass as much manure as usual it can be something as simple as your horse’s diet has changed and he is not eating as much as usual. Maybe he usually has a pasture block available but that has been consumed and a new one has not been set out yet. However, a decrease in manure production can also indicate that your horse has something more serious going on.

The question to answer is, is manure production decreased because feed intake is decreased or is it decreased because there is something causing the GI tract to move slower? If it’s because of a decrease in feed intake, why isn’t your horse eating as much? Or if it’s because the GI tract is moving slowly, why is that? Knowing your horse’s usual routine, their normal diet and how much they usually drink is essential to noticing if your horse has an issue. It is also essential in knowing if your horse is passing manure more frequently than usual.

You wouldn’t think that a horse passing manure more frequently than usual would indicate a problem, but it certainly can. If, for example, your horse is passing a lot of small little piles of manure, that could indicate that your horse is struggling to pass an entire pile. Frequent, loose piles of manure can indicate that your horse is developing a more serious problem such as colitis. Any change in your horse’s usual routine and manure output is cause for concern. It should be watched carefully, and it’s always a good idea to get your veterinarian involved when you notice a change.

So now you’ve learned, as I recently did, that poop can tell you a lot about your horse’s overall health. It can help you catch problems that might be brewing before they become a big issue. Keep keeping an eye on the poop, and don’t hesitate to call my docs if you have a question about it. And no, it’s not weird to have pictures of horse poop in your phone to show other people. Horse people do it all the time. Right?

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. If you want to learn more about runny poop, the humans have a podcast that covers all kinds of stuff about diarrhea that you never realized you wanted to know. You can find it over on the Podcast Page. And honestly, if you don’t listen to Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth every two weeks, you’re missing out on a TON of great horse knowledge. I’m just saying.

 

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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A Tale of Two Colics

A Tale of Two Colics

Tuesdays with Tony

This week I’m going to do a rare thing for a cat…I’m going to express approval. I’m giving a gold star to Springhill’s client, Kathy, who knows just how to handle something all horse owners will have to deal with at some point. A few weeks ago, Kathy’s horses Haley and Saratoga both had an episode of colic within a few days of each other. Don’t worry, they’re both fine now.

Both of Kathy’s horses are on the Springhill Wellness plan, so my docs know their routine healthcare is up to date, and Kathy doesn’t have to pay an extra emergency fee if she has an after-hours emergency. My docs were so impressed with how Kathy handled both colic episodes that I decided to talk about what she did right in these situations.

Haley

The first colic was Kathy’s gelding Haley. Haley, who is 17, has had several mild colic episodes over the years, despite Kathy’s good care and appropriate feeding. Because of this, Kathy has a plan in place for Haley. The morning of his colic, Kathy saw him laying down quietly and less interested in his breakfast than usual. She gave the clinic a call as soon as she noticed he was uncomfortable to discuss what she saw with my docs. She took Haley’s heart rate, which was normal at 38 beats per minute, and reported it to us. My docs talked with Kathy about the signs Haley was showing and agreed that it was a mild colic that Kathy could monitor. After checking with my docs, Kathy gave the recommended dose of banamine by mouth. She then monitored Haley carefully throughout the day. She held him off feed but encouraged him to drink water. She checked his comfort and kept a close eye on how much manure he passed and how much water he drank. She updated the clinic throughout the day on Haley’s status. If needed, we were all ready to change plans and make a visit to Kathy’s farm to treat the colic. Fortunately, Haley felt better quickly and was back to his normal self without needing any more treatment.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Saratoga

The second episode was Kathy’s 30-year-old mare Saratoga. Because of her age, and the fact that she’s never colicked before, Kathy knew that Saratoga should be examined by one of my docs. Saratoga was showing more pronounced colic signs than Haley – she was down and rolling – and Kathy called the clinic as soon as she found her. One of my docs immediately headed out to examine Saratoga. She performed an ultrasound exam and a trans-rectal palpation to determine the cause and severity of Saratoga’s colic. Saratoga had a mild large colon impaction, not uncommon in times when the weather is changing. My doc passed a nasogastric tube to re-hydrate Saratoga and administered some IV medications to help her through her discomfort. Fortunately, Saratoga’s colic was a type that could be managed on the farm and wouldn’t require hospitalization or surgery. My doc suggested that Kathy offer Saratoga a bucket of water flavored with a handful of grain to encourage her to drink and help break up the colon impaction. Kathy monitored Saratoga carefully throughout the day and hand-walked her for 5-10 minutes every hour to encourage intestinal movement. The mare stayed comfortable and regained her appetite, though she was allowed only very limited food until she started passing normal manure. Kathy was joyously mucking lots of manure out of the stall the next morning and Saratoga was back to her normal self!

What Kathy did right:

  • Called the clinic as soon as she noticed the colic
  • Gave banamine only after discussing it with her vet and being told the correct route and dose
  • Knows how to take a heart rate
  • Has her vet out when it’s recommended that a visit is necessary to provide treatment
  • Monitored her horse’s comfort, manure production, and water consumption
  • Updated the clinic on her horse’s status after the visit
  • Has her horses on the Springhill Wellness Plan so she never needs to pay an emergency fee

Are you prepared to handle this situation purrrfectly like Kathy did? If you’re not sure, give my docs a call! They are always happy to talk about measures you can take to prevent colic, and to help you deal with it if it occurs.

Until next week,

Tony

P.S. If you want to learn way more about colic than I’m willing to write down for you (cats have limited willingness to type) you have to listen to the recent podcast episode the humans did about colic. You can find it on the Podcast Page up in the menu bar, or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Trust me, it’s worth a listen.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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How to Lead a Horse to Water (and get him to drink)

How to Lead a Horse to Water (and get him to drink)

Tuesdays with Tony

One of the best ways to keep your horse healthy is to make sure he stays hydrated. Good hydration can keep him performing well, help his organ systems function, and reduce the chance of colic. But have you noticed that self-preservation is not one of your horse’s best skills? Many of them don’t drink enough water when they’re traveling, in a new place, or when the weather changes. Not that I blame them – my fine feline tastes make me picky about flavors too.

In the summer, your horse needs to drink to replace water lost during sweating and exercise. In the winter, he is probably eating more dry food material like hay, and less moisture-rich grass. Dehydration can result, because his food is naturally drier and there is less stimulus to drink when its cooler outside. My docs have seen a lot of colics lately with the weather changing. An average sized (1000 lb) horse should drink about 5-10 gallons of water a day, so keep a close eye on how much yours is consuming. Here are some tips to encourage him to drink more, whether it’s summer or winter.

  1. Provide fresh water

Make sure your horse’s water source is always fresh and clean. Check all your water troughs, buckets, and automatic waterers daily. Replace the stale water and scrub all your water sources out regularly. Algae can grow quickly around here, and debris can fall into the containers and rot. Even worse, I’m sure you have all seen the dreaded pile of manure accidentally deposited in the water bucket – gross! Your horse is sure not going to drink that.

  1. Think about the water container

Some horses are picky about what they will drink from. Some drink better out of a trough or larger bucket. If the bucket feels too narrow to him, he may not want to put his nose in. Make sure there’s no metal hardware or handle that might be in his way. Offer him several container options to keep him drinking well. But, it’s best to get him used to drinking from more than one type of container. If he only has a trough at home and you’re away at a show where he has no choice but a water bucket, he may not drink enough.

You’ll also want to provide at least 2 sources of water for your horse, in case something happens to one of them. For example, a bucket could tip over, an automatic waterer could break, or the dreaded pile of manure in the bucket could occur.

  1. Flavor the water

Some horses can be encouraged to drink by offering flavored water. We use this strategy more for certain occasions like traveling to shows or on extra cold days, rather than on a daily basis. But when you need it, this can work great! Any time you are concerned your horse might not be drinking enough, you can give it a try.

There are a variety of flavorings that can be used. My favorite is to put 3 handfuls of whatever grain your horse loves in the bottom of a full water bucket – I call that “Sweet Tea”. Many horses love the taste of grain-flavored water and will drink the full bucket to get to the small amount of grain in the bottom. Other flavor options include Gatorade, apple juice, a little molasses, or even peppermint oil. Every horse will have different tastes, so experiment with what your horse likes. Always provide plain, unflavored water as well, in case your horse doesn’t like the flavored water. Check with my docs before doing this if your horse has any metabolic disease, insulin dysregulation, or history of laminitis and might not be able to tolerate extra sugar in his diet.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

  1. Bring water from home when traveling

Many horses get used to the flavor of their usual water at home, and don’t drink as well when the water tastes or smells different at a new place. An option is to bring water from home in a water tank or plastic containers so he can drink the same water he is familiar with. Another way is to disguise the flavor of the new water by getting your horse used to drinking water flavored with grain/apple juice/Gatorade like we just discussed in #3, and add the same flavoring to the new water. Hopefully he won’t be able to tell the difference.

  1. Position the water near the food

If your horse must leave his food to go to his water source, he may be less inclined to drink. Most horses are all about the food! Make it easy for him to take sips while he’s eating by placing his water close to where he is fed. The food going through his GI tract will have more moisture in it, reducing the chance of an impaction.

  1. Soak hay and grain

Wetting down your horse’s hay and grain can get extra water into your horse’s system. You don’t have to soak the hay for a long time before feeding it – even spraying it down just before feeding can help increase its water content. You can add a little water to your horse’s grain as well, to make it a mash or soup consistency. Bonus, this helps to decrease the chance of choke and suppresses dusty respiratory allergens too.

  1. Warm the water in colder weather

Some studies have shown that in cold weather, horses will drink more warm water than cold water. If its chilly out, or if you live somewhere that water freezes (Oh the horror!), considering offering your horse warm water.

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  1. Supplementing with salt

Adding a small amount of salt to your horse’s diet can stimulate his thirst and encourage him to drink more. Start by adding 1-2 teaspoons of table salt (sodium chloride) to his grain 1-2 times a day. If you find that his water consumption has increased and he is better hydrated, you can slowly increase the amount of salt up to a maximum of 1-2 tablespoons daily. If he isn’t drinking more than before, stop the salt and try a different method.

There are a couple of situations where salt supplementation shouldn’t be used. Don’t give salt when your horse won’t have access to water for a while, like when he is traveling a long distance. That could actually cause him to become more dehydrated if he’s not able to drink. While diseases that require sodium restriction aren’t common in horses, it’s best to check with one of my docs before adding salt to your horse’s diet, especially is he has any existing health conditions.

Give these ideas a try and find out what works best for your horse. Then comment on my facebook post to tell us what your favorite strategy is! As always, if you have any questions, my docs are happy to talk. 

Until next week,

~Tony

 P.S. Have you been to my YouTube Channel lately? There are new videos going up every couple of weeks these days, with tons of great horse stuff. I know you humans are into that sort of thing, and I don’t want you to miss out. You’re welcome.

 

 

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Foaling Prep

Foaling Prep

Tuesdays with Tony

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. I spent my weekend napping and recuperating from all my weekday napping. It’s a tough life, but somebody’s gotta do it. Anyway. Last week we talked about breeding your mare. This week I want to talk about the main event: foaling and foals.

Everyone loves foals! And what’s not to love? They’re absolutely adorable. Their disproportionate ears, long wobbly legs, fuzzy little tails, and tiny little feet make them almost irresistible. However, foals will break your heart in a split second. I’ve seen it firsthand. The act of foaling out is very dangerous and can be life-threatening for both the mare and foal. Luckily, most of the time foaling occurs without issue, but it’s important to be prepared for those rare times when foaling does not go as planned. 

Dystocia

Dystocia is an all-encompassing word for difficult birth. A dystocia can be life-threatening to both the mare and foal. Typically, a dystocia involves the foal being positioned inappropriately, therefore making it impossible for the mare to pass the foal through the pelvic canal. Once the mare’s water breaks the foal should be expelled within 30 minutes, 45 minutes max, before the life of the foal is at risk. If the foal is positioned incorrectly, it can put stress on the mare, leading to tearing and bleeding.

Your veterinarian will be able to assess your mare and foal to determine the severity of the dystocia. Sometimes it’s possible for your veterinarian to manipulate the foal into the correct position allowing for a normal birth to occur. However, if they can’t do that, sending the mare to a referral hospital may be necessary. When this decision is made, it’s extremely emergent and both the life of the mare and foal are in jeopardy. If you think about it, by the time the mare’s water breaks, you realized there is a problem, your veterinarian comes out, and the decision is made to refer, a big chunk of time has already passed. That’s why it’s always best to be prepared ahead of time, have a plan set up, and potentially even bring your mare to a facility to foal out where there is a veterinarian on staff should a problem arise.

Once at the referral hospital, there’s a possibility of your mare needing a cesarian section. A C-section involves general anesthesia which can be dangerous for the mare and foal. It has to be completed quickly and efficiently. Even if everything goes perfectly, it’s possible that the life of the mare or foal could be lost.  Dystocias can be very complicated and very dangerous, so be sure to talk with your veterinarian about the best plan for foaling out your mare.

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Red Bag

The term “red bag” is well-known and heard throughout barns. But do you really know what it means to have a red bag birth? I did some research and found out that a red bag occurs when there is premature separation of the outer placental membrane from uterine wall. When this happens, the intact fluid-filled chorioallantois protrudes through the vulva. The chorioallantois is red in color and is what gives the term “red bag” its name.

Again, we all know that a red bag birth is bad, but why is it bad? Well, when the outer placental membrane detaches from the uterine wall before it is supposed to, there’s a rapid decrease in oxygen being transported to the foal. Thus, the foal can suffer from lack of oxygen and could even suffocate.

When a foal does not obtain enough oxygen during the delivery process, they can be born a “dummy foal.” Dummy foals can exhibit abnormal behaviors after birth, including sleepiness, ataxia, circling, weakness, loss of a suckle reflex, and disinterest in the mare. As you can imagine a foal who is not interested in the mare and does not suckle is a foal who is in danger. Dehydration, weakness, and illness can set in very quickly.

Your veterinarian may elect to perform the Madigan Squeeze on your foal if he is showing signs of dummy foal syndrome. This squeeze resets the foal’s neurologic system and often can alleviate the symptoms associated with dummy foal syndrome. However, if the foal does not respond to the Madigan Squeeze, hospitalization and intensive care may be necessary.

The good news about a red bag is, if you recognize it early, you can reduce the risks by sharply opening the placental membrane. This will allow the allantoic fluid to be expelled and the foal will be able to breath the ambient air. That being said, it would still be in the foal’s best interest to receive supplemental oxygen post-foaling.

It is highly recommended to have your veterinarian on the way if you notice any complications during the foaling process. And as I already said, it may be in your best interests, and the best interest of your mare and foal to have your mare at a facility to foal out where there is a veterinarian available immediately.

Post-Foaling Complications

We’ve made it through the foaling without complication, so now you may be thinking, Whew, now I can finally enjoy my new bundle of joy! And you can and should, but there are post-foaling complications that you should look for.

Immediately post-foaling is the 1-2-3 Rule: your foal should stand within 1 hour, should be nursing by 2 hours, and 3 hours post foaling the mare should pass the placental in full. A foal who does not stand, will not nurse. A foal that does not nurse will become weak and dehydrated quickly. And a mare with a retained placenta can become extremely ill, become laminitic, and can end up not being able to care for their foal appropriately. If any of these milestones do not occur, you will need to call in your veterinarian for assistance.

Post-foaling complications don’t always have to be life threatening. Complications such as contracted tendons or laxed tendons occur frequently. While these complications may not be life threatening, they can be career ending before your foal’s career even begins. It can affect their conformation and put them at risk for tendon and ligament problems in the future as well as hoof problems as they develop. And we all know the saying, no hoof, no horse. If you suspect you foal has a problem with his tendons, be sure to call your veterinarian as soon as possible, as time is of the essence to get the problem corrected.

Finally, foals are extremely accident prone. They are curious and excitable, which can lead them to finding themselves in precarious positions.  Ensuring that the environment for your foal is safe is essential to avoiding accidents and injuries.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Now, buckle up, because foaling season is right around the corner! Get with your veterinarian to come up with the best plan for you and your horse and let the foaling begin!

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. If you want more foaling information, you should go over to my Podcast Page and listen to my docs talk about this stuff. They have 3 or 4 different episodes about it, and one of them is an interview with a Board-Certified Internist who deals with new foals, so she has all kinds of great info to share on the subject. Go ahead and check it out, it’s free and painless!

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Breeding Prep for 2022

Breeding Prep for 2022

Tuesdays with Tony

Somehow, it’s that time of year again. No, not Christmas or New Years, but breeding season. Well, not quite yet, but it’s just around the corner, which means it’s time to start prepping now. And if you are just starting to prep now, you may even be a little late to the game depending on when you plan to breed your mare. Don’t fret, I’m here to get you back on track and discuss the ins and outs of breeding your mare.

I just love breeding season, because it means I get to see my docs all the time! It’s like they never leave the clinic, so I get to spend all my time outside which is my favorite place to be. It also means my docs are working double time with their usual appointments along with trying to get these mares bred, which is yet another reason to be prepared when it comes to breeding. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: breeding is not for the faint of heart. Yes, foals are adorable, and most mares are wonderful moms, but breeding is not without its pitfalls and heartaches.

Before You Breed

Did you know that even before you start the breeding process there is a lot of homework you have to do? First, and fairly obviously, you have to have a mare. Whether it’s your mare or a mare you are leasing/borrowing, you can’t make a baby without a mare. The next step to know your mare. Know her history, know what she’s done as a performance horse, know if she has any prior injuries or surgeries, and know her breeding history. Knowing all these things will help the docs help you make informed decision prior to breeding.

Once you know what mare you plan to breed, your next step is to set up an appointment with your veterinarian for a pre-breeding examination. During this exam, your veterinarian will go over the ins and outs of breeding your mare and what to expect. They’ll examine your horse in several different ways, starting with a brief physical exam, listening to her heart, lungs, abdomen, and looking at her overall state of health and conformation.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Next, they’ll do a speculum examination. This is odd if you ask me, but basically they take a sterile paper towel roll and gently insert it into your horse’s vagina. Then they look through the paper towel roll with a bright light and inspect the inside of the vagina for abnormalities. They inspect the cervix for discharge or scarring, and get an overall idea of the status of your horse’s vagina.

Next comes a rectal exam with an ultrasound. This way they can visualize the entire uterus, both ovaries and the cervix. The uterus is assessed for any evidence of infection or any uterine cysts that might be present. Both ovaries are examined for abnormalities and to determine where your horse is in her cycle.  After the ultrasound your veterinarian should get a sample of cells from your horse’s uterine wall. The cells are examined for abnormalities, bacteria and/or white blood cells which could indicate infection. Fluid is also obtained from your horse’s uterus to culture the cells and determine if there is a uterine infection. If the culture comes back positive, this allows the veterinarian to determine a best course of treatment. The pre-breeding exam is extremely important to perform early, so if your horse does require treatment, it can be completed prior to the start of breeding season.

Stallion

If you think this sounds like a lot, just wait, there’s more! In case you forgot, you have to have a stallion to make a baby. Finding the right stallion for your mare is not as easy as it seems. The stallion you pick should complement your horse’s conformation, and he should also fit your performance goals.

Once you have your stallion picked, you have to communicate with the stallion owner. A breeding contract should be drawn up and agreed upon by both parties. I can’t begin to tell you how important this contract is. The contract is your lifeline to getting your mare bred. It tells you exactly how much you should expect to spend on stud fees, collection fees, shipping fees, etc. It also gives you essential information that your veterinarian will need when it comes time to breed your mare.

Knowing what stallion you are going to breed to, if he performs live cover, or if cooled semen or frozen semen is shipped out, and what days semen is shipped is essential for owners and veterinarians to know. All this information allows your veterinarian to make decisions when it comes to breeding your mare to give her the best chance of conceiving.

The Breeding Process

So you’ve done your homework, you’ve had your mare checked over carefully by a veterinarian and you have all of the I’s dotted and T’s crossed with the stallion owner. You may think it’s going to be easy now, but it’s not! The breeding process is far from easy and far from simple. Rather than a one and done thing, it often takes up to 3 times of inseminating to get a mare pregnant. That means 3 collection fees, 3 shipping fees, 3 insemination fees and more. Breeding adds up financially very quickly.

Timing is of the essence when it comes to breeding, especially when it comes to cooled shipped or frozen semen. Often, my docs like to have the mare they are breeding at the clinic for several days to several weeks. This allows them to check where the mare is in her cycle daily, follow the development of follicles on the ovaries, and administer medications to induce ovulation in conjunction with when semen is available for shipment. The timing of ovulation is key. Mares should ovulate within 24 hours of insemination with cooled shipped semen. This is why my docs spend all of breeding season with me: they are constantly checking your mare and constantly stressing over when semen will arrive. It’s an extremely stressful time, but it’s also very rewarding.

Insemination is pretty simple: clean the mare up, put the semen in and wait. The wait is sometimes the hardest part. From the time of ovulation to the first pregnancy check is 14 days. Two weeks, that just seems like forever to wait. Two weeks after ovulation an ultrasound will be performed and everyone will be looking for that little black dot. Once that little black dot is seen, you may think the hard part is done. But, no, there is more.

The Follow-Up Checks

Two weeks after the first pregnancy check is when we can see the baby’s heartbeat. The twenty-eight day check is an essential check. It allows your veterinarian to ensure your horse is indeed pregnant, and to find the fetus’ heartbeat. Surely, we must be done now, right? Wrong. The next ultrasound is at 60 days of pregnancy where your veterinarian will assess fetal development.

Another ultrasound is performed at 90 days of pregnancy. This ultrasound is another check on fetal development and to check for signs of early embryonic death. At the 90-day visit, your horse will also receive her first pneumabort vaccination which reduces the risk of abortion caused by herpes virus. Pneumabort vaccinations are given at 3 months, 5 months, 7 months, and 9 months.

The 7-month ultrasound is extremely important. That’s when your veterinarian will check for signs of placentitis. Placentitis can lead to abortion of the fetus, so catching the early signs is essential. Whew, it has been a ride so far and we are only at 7 months! After the 9-month pneumabort vaccine, you’re in the home stretch. At 10 months, your mare will receive her pre-foaling vaccinations and you get to start getting ready for foaling. The excitement builds for the final event.

Foaling and after-foaling is a whole process of its own, so stayed tuned for my upcoming blog about foaling and your foal’s first few months of life.

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. The humans have several podcasts on breeding, if you’d like to listen to hours of in-depth information presented in an easy-to-digest manner. Just jump over to the Podcast Page of my website and start scrolling through the episodes.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Advancements in Wound Care

Advancements in Wound Care

Tuesdays with Tony

My Docs have a lot of ways they keep up with the latest and greatest things in medicine. One way is plain old talking. They talk with other veterinarians, they talk to horse people, heck, they’ll talk to anyone! Another way is on the internet. I’m convinced the internet was created by and for cats, so it must be a good thing. My Docs use it to talk with other docs about the crazy things horses do and how to care for them, and to attend formal continuing education (CE) on something called Zoom. (I thought this was what happens when I get excited and run for 4-5 steps, but it was explained to me that it’s sort of a meeting room for humans.) 

Anyway, my Docs have been doing a bunch of CE on this Zoom thing for the past 18 months. They say it’s been a great way to learn about things, but it lacks the fun of real life CE. Recently that changed! First Dr. Abbott went to a really cool CE all about finding the hard-to-find causes of lameness. She came back with some great tips, tricks, and complaints about how Colorado does winter. Just this past week, Dr. Lacher came back from the national equine practitioners conference in Nashville. She also had complaints about how Nashville does winter, but more importantly, she sat down with me to talk about some cool wound care stuff!

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Bacteria and Biofilm

Holy horses and their wounds! If there’s a way to injure themselves, horses are going to find it. For the most part, they are then going to try very hard to heal it. Healing is a horse superpower. If that superpower seems to be struggling, there’s a good chance biofilm, one of bacteria’s superpowers, is to blame. Biofilm is this gooey, nasty covering bacteria create to keep themselves safe from antibiotics and the immune system. If they can’t get to the bacteria, they can’t kill them! When wounds on horses aren’t healing, biofilm has to go on the list of suspects. What’s a Doc to do? Debride, debride, debride, and some other stuff. Never fear, I’m going to cover the debride part, but first, let’s talk about some other stuff. 

The trick to getting rid of biofilm is to not also destroy the baby cells trying to heal the wound. There are some nifty things that help with this. Silver sulfadiazene has previously been thought of as the miracle cure for all as far as my Docs are concerned. Turns out, it also breaks down biofilm! That stuff really is amazing. There’s also a bandage with some stuff called, wait for it, it’s a mouthful, polyhexamethylene biguanide impregnated right in the bandage. This stuff does a great job keeping biofilm knocked back to manageable levels. Other things that worked well were topical antibiotics (after debriding, which, as stated, I promise I’ll talk about) and platelet rich plasma (PRP). But the most important thing to start with is……

Debriding

Docs need fancy words for things. Debriding just means taking away unnecessary tissue. For horse wounds in particular, this often means way, way too much granulation tissue. It’s part of their attempt at super healing which sometimes goes awry. Anyway. It can also mean removing dead tissue, dirt, and other debris. The most common way any of you humans debride a wound is with a water hose. You are always allowed to do this method unless there’s a whole lot of active bleeding. Tiny aside: if there’s lots of bleeding, wrap the wound with a whole lot of bandage material, call my Docs, have horse move as little as possible. Back to our story. 

If a wound is really nasty, as horses are known to do, there are all kinds of cool bandage materials and techniques that can help remove the unwanted bits, and biofilm, and get your horse back on the healing track. Honey and wet gauze were a few of the things talked about. The trick to debriding is knowing when to stop the debriding. Too much debriding will keep a wound from healing. Basically, don’t decide you’ve read all my cat wisdom and now know all there is to know and can go it alone. Nope. You need a whole lot of learning to know when to stop and when to keep going, and how to pick the right product for each different type of wound. 

On to bandaging!

There are some pretty cool products out there to help with the biofilm and debriding side of things, but what about bandaging? Bandaging helps keep swelling out of legs, provides coverage for wounds, can be part of the debriding process, and can contain things that reduce biofilm. Basically, bandaging is important. 

Regular readers (you have subscribed to my blog, right?!?) have heard me talk about Sox for Horses. These things are pretty darn cool. The silver woven into the materials works on the biofilm, the material helps with debriding, and they help provide compression to the wound. And they’re washable/reusable! 

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However, sometimes you’ve got a leg or a spot that just doesn’t cooperate. May I (not-so-humbly) suggest you check out Equine Sleeves? These things are brand new to the horse world, and they’re pretty cool. They can be used on places as tricky as a hock. They can be stacked, or trimmed, used alone, or with things underneath them to help. Using Sox or Equine Sleeves with products that help debride and manage biofilm can help get those wounds back to healing quickly, and using fewer dollars. Sounds good to this cat! And these are also washable and reusable.

You know I talk about wounds on horses a lot. It’s because horses can’t resist an opportunity to hurt themselves. There’s really cool work out there to help my Docs do the best job they can to help your horse heal fast. I’m always amazed at the new, fun things my Docs learn about, whether it’s on the internet or in-person, and it gives me new, exciting information to share with you! So, make sure you scroll down and subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of my feline wisdoms.

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. If you haven’t been over to my YouTube Channel recently, you’re missing out! The humans have been very busy making videos during the pandemic. If you like my blog, you’ll love their videos! Tell them I sent you.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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How to Lose Weight Safely

How to Lose Weight Safely

Tuesdays with Tony

This seems like an appropriate week-after-Thanksgiving topic. I know I indulged in way too much turkey over the long weekend. I also know my Docs see lots and lots and lots of horses who have hit the hay bale a little too hard for too long with not enough time spent working out. Whether you’re a cat, a human, or a horse, excess weight puts you at risk for all kinds of badness. Just ask this diabetic cat. Luckily, in the realm of poor design decisions that is the modern day horse, the pancreas wasn’t one of those bad choices. This means horses, unlike cats, don’t get diabetes. Don’t worry, they still get bad things from excess weight. Read on to learn more!

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

A Brief Overview

I have plenty of blogs regarding fat horses and donkeys and what happens, so I’m going to do the quick version here. I know you will then go search out the depths of my shared knowledge to learn even more. Overweight horses get what’s known as insulin resistance rather than diabetes. In normal diabetes, the pancreas stops making insulin. For horses, the cells stick their metaphorical fingers in their metaphorical ears and say, “Nope insulin, I can’t hear you no matter how loud you yell.” This causes the cells to be unable to take in glucose which means bad things happen. This also causes high glucose in the blood which makes the pancreas kick out even more insulin. No one ever said it all made sense, just that it’s what happens. 

While bad things are happening to the cells from no glucose, other cells are saying, “Oh boy! We’ve got all this insulin around. We need to do stuff!” It’s that doing of stuff that causes most of the side effects of insulin resistance. Again, go to the search bar above to find all the in-depth blogs I have put my heart and soul into to get quality information to you humans.

Calories In

Moving on to correcting the problem. It’s a pretty simple equation: calories in<calories out. Simple does not always mean easy! 

My Docs always start with a diet evaluation. Just like in you humans, high sugar is bad. Making sure your horse’s diet is based on good quality roughage with just enough concentrate added is often enough to cause weight loss. This is not permission to throw Flicka an all-you-can-eat buffet of alfalfa hay! Looking at options for roughage like Teff and Coastal hays, then mixing in some alfalfa or peanut to keep that persnickety GI tract happy are likely better options. 

Going even further on keeping the aforementioned persnickety GI tract happy, slow feed hay bags (and even putting your slow feed hay bag in another slow feed hay bag) can help Flicka eat hay all day long while not actually getting that much to eat. The key is using that large brain you humans have to out-think your horse. The best way to make sure your precious pony is getting the correct amount of roughage is to weigh it out so they are only eating 10% of their body weight daily. Okay, roughage managed. 

Moving on to concentrates. Less is more! For the average easy keeper, all that’s needed is a ration balancer. These are protein, vitamin, and mineral concentrates that minimize the calories while getting your horse all the nutrition they need. For most horses who, let’s be honest, are either lawn ornaments, or only get slightly more work than this cat, this is all they need. Good quality forage set up in a way that they will take a while to eat it, and a small amount (usually 1 pound per day for most brands) of a ration balancer. 

Calories Out

I’m going to be honest with you humans. After all, it’s what I do. You are really, really, really bad at this part. “Calories out” means exercise. Yes, exercise. I find it to be awful as well! I’m going to start with the number one excuse I hear: time. Well you’re in luck! Fifteen minutes of walking and light jogging three times per week. Three.Times.Per.Week. You can do that! And that’s all it takes to minimize the effects of those extra pounds. I’m not at weight loss yet. This low level of exercise, though, will get glucose and insulin back at least speaking with each other. Start here!

Moving on to the tougher versions of calories out. The easy version of decreasing calories and increasing work does great on most of the equids my Docs see. However, if your horse is too lame due to laminitis, or is a pony or donkey, some special considerations need to be taken. For the lame horse, it’s a matter of reducing those calories as much as possible. This means weighing hay and concentrates so they only get what is absolutely required. It also means knowing what’s in your roughage by having a hay analysis done. An equine nutritionist can really help here to design the best diet. 

My Docs will often add thyroid hormone supplementation to kick the metabolism into a higher gear as well. This can be used in the short term to help bump up weight loss on horses who can’t exercise. I want to be 100% clear that these horses don’t have a thyroid problem. My Docs are simply using a bit of a crutch to help get things going the way they need to go. As your horse gets more comfortable, work on ways to add in some walking. Any bit of exercise, under strict supervision from the Docs, will help! 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Donkeys, ponies, and miniature horses love to break the rules of weight loss. This is because all three of these were designed to live under some really harsh conditions. Their metabolism can run all day long on minimal calories. That means we can kick them into hyperlipidemia if we try to drop the calories too fast. Hyperlipidemia means too much fat in the blood. It occurs because the liver recognizes a sudden drop in calories, and aggressively recruits fat stores. The recruitment and processing doesn’t always align quite right and that extra fat ends up running around in the blood until the liver can get to it. Except that extra fat running around causes all kinds of systems to go haywire. 

These are sick, sick equids. I highly recommend avoiding this if at all possible. Avoiding it means increasing exercise slowly over 2-3 weeks so the system doesn’t experience a shock in calorie need. It also means slowly reducing calories in the diet over that same 2-3 week period so there isn’t a shock in calories provided. In the realm of things that are weird about horse-type critters, one of the diet adjustments will be increasing calories from fat. This doesn’t mean a willy-nilly adding of fat. It means look at the overall calories needed in the diet and work to replace some of those calories with fat, instead of carbs and proteins. This is not something you should do based on some time spent with Google. This is definitely something you should call my Docs for. They will likely bring in an equine nutritionist as well. These diets can be some of the trickiest to formulate, and regular monitoring will be important!

Being overweight can be difficult. I’ve been dealing with it my whole life! Having a plan and a support team is crucial. My Docs are here to help you with both sides of that equation. Give them a call to set up your horse’s Couch to 5k plan today!

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. My docs did a podcast interview with Dr. Vineyard, the senior equine nutritionist at Purina. If you want to learn more about nutrition, that’s a great place to start. You can find it over on the Podcast Page of my website. And, as I mentioned earlier, I have a bunch of other blogs on this stuff as well. Now you just have to decide if you want to read or listen. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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