Things This Cat Wants You To Know

Things This Cat Wants You To Know

Tuesdays with Tony

As the resident King of The Countertop at Springhill Equine, I listen to a whole lot of conversations. Some are unique, but there are some very, very frequent repeats. As a cat who is constantly trying to make the world a better place for horses… Wait, that’s not true at all. I write this blog for the fame, fortune, and adulation of my fans, not for the horses. I am a cat, after all.

The real reason for me to go over these frequent topics is so my Docs have more time to scratch all my favorite spots in the proper way, as I have trained them. So, strap in and let’s visit some things you should know.

Colic

Stop walking them. For the love of all that is cat, please, please, please stop walking colics. It only exhausts you and the horse and doesn’t help the colic at all.

While we’re on the topic of colics, let’s talk about causes. The #1 cause of colic is not enough water in the system. Now I know there can be a whole lot of reasons for this, but taking the time to work on a plan for water consumption for your horse can prevent a lot of unwanted visits with my Docs. We all know you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. Using strategies like added salt in the grain, or, even better, adding lots of water to the grain, can dramatically increase water consumption without your horse even realizing it! Making sure your horse has access to and is drinking water when they’re working hard, or when it’s really hot out helps reduce impactions, too. When it’s cold out, again adding salt or water to the food puts water where it’s needed most. 

The #2 cause of colic in this area of Florida (and now’s the season) is the sudden appearance of coastal hay in front of your horse. Putting out a round bale of hay and turning your horse loose on it is like sending me to the all-you-can-eat Friskies buffett. It’s not going to end well for anyone! Coastal hay is a good roughage option as long as it’s managed well. Start with small amounts of hay, and gradually increase over 10-14 days until your horse is leaving some hay. Then you can put a round bale out. Along with that coastal hay, feed at least ½ flake of alfalfa or peanut hay daily. It helps keep the system moving smoothly. It also drives thirst, which makes them drink, and, well, we’ve gone full circle.

Horse Trailers

You should have one, or have very, very rapid access to one. Oh, and your horse should know how to load. Just this morning Dr. Lacher was speaking with someone with a horse emergency too far away for us to drive to. This area doesn’t have any veterinarians. This owner doesn’t have a horse trailer. I wish I could say this wasn’t a common scenario, but it’s nearly daily here. There are a myriad of reasons why your horse may need to trailer somewhere. From bad lacerations, to colics, to hurricane evacuation. Having a trailer, or a solid plan with your neighbor, is really, really important. 

Now that you know why you should have a trailer, make sure your horse loads in that trailer. This takes practice. Often it takes two people to get the process going the right way. Even more often it takes a professional to help you teach your horse to load. And despite your desire to yell, scream, and swear at your horse due to the insane stress levels you are experiencing due to their extreme commitment to not loading on the trailer, calmness is the answer. You can trust me on this. I specialize in naps. I know calm. 

Having a Plan

I’ve got two scenarios here. 

Scenario #1: Disaster Plan. You need one. You need one in general, but you really, really need one if you have animals. Horses drink a lot of water, and eat a lot of food. When the power goes out, water gets tricky if you’re on a well. If there’s a significant disaster, like Hurricane Ian, it can take a bit to get supply chains of feed and hay running back into an area. Think about what disasters are likely to hit your area, and make a plan.

Scenario #2: You die. I know, I know, no one likes to think about this part, but if you’ve got animals, you need to. Cats and dogs are hard enough to find good homes for, let alone horses. Take the time to do some estate planning so your family (who may not even be horse people) know what to do with them. Set aside some money in that estate plan to help with this, or to help your family find the right person to re-home them. There are so many animals who find themselves in a bad situation because their owners suddenly passed away. This is easily avoided with a modicum of effort on your part, and now that I’ve cat-splained it to you, you have no excuses. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Your Horse’s Diet

A much lighter topic than the previous one. Your horse’s diet should start with roughage, meaning pasture or hay. Concentrates should be an add-on from there. Those concentrates will balance all of the shortfalls of the roughage. You do NOT need supplements. I feel like you humans think supplements = love. Not true. Time spent with you grazing, or getting favorite itchy spots scratched, or a nice trail ride, these things are love. Not supplements. And when it comes to concentrates, the least expensive bag of feed is NEVER the cheapest way to feed your horse. 

Let me elaborate. A bag of ration balancer, which is what 90% of horses should be eating, is fed at 1 pound per day. It’s all nutrition, low on calories, and while the 40# bag might be $30, you only feed 1 pound per day. Sweet feed, which is a terrible plan for horses, needs to be fed at 10-15 pounds per day to meet the basic nutritional needs of the horse. It might only be $15 a bag, but you’re either feeding 1 bag every three days or you’re short-changing your horse on nutrition, which you’re then trying to make up for by feeding a bunch of supplements. 

So: good nutrition/ration balancer at less than $1 a day, or junk food and supplements for $5 – $10 a day. Make sense now? 

I hope this weekly drop of insane cat wisdom helps you make good horse decisions. Need help with colic prevention, disaster planning, trailer loading, or good nutrition? Give my Docs a call. They may not be able to estate plan with you, but they generally know someone who can help. And make sure you take a minute to scratch my back the next time you’re at the Clinic.

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. If you really want to download a ton of high-quality horse knowledge into your brain, start listening to the podcast my minions produce while you’re driving to the feed store to get that ration balancer. It’s called Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth and you can listen to it right from your phone. You can find it over on the Podcast Page of my website, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. I promise it will make you a better horse owner. Now, before you go down that rabbit hole, if you would just scroll down to the purple box and subscribe, I’ll email you my blog every Monday. That’s right, early access. Just for you. Enjoy the podcast.

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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Myths Legends and Sketchy Ideas

Myths Legends and Sketchy Ideas

Tuesdays with Tony

The horse world is full of some crazy myths, legends, and sketchy ideas. My Docs experience them every day, and I hear my fair share of them during conversations at the clinic. I know horse people like tradition, and also The Google, but both of these are more likely to let you down than help you in a crisis. This week, let’s talk about some common myths, legends, and sketchy ideas. If you don’t want a full dose of my profound wisdom, I’ll put the moral of the story here: You should check with my Docs before you do anything.

Vaccines

My horse doesn’t leave the property, so no vaccines are necessary. 

There are plenty of things that reside on your property that can be 1. Vaccinated for and 2. Can kill your horse. The most common one of these is Tetanus. Horses love, and I do mean love, to get themselves hurt. Each one of those scrapes, cuts, and punctures is an opportunity for tetanus (which lives in the dirt) to go forth and multiply. Add to that mosquitos, as encephalitis delivery mechanisms, and you have several very good reasons to vaccinate, even if your horse never leaves the property. 

Rabies, and particularly rabid animals, ignore fences, as it flies in a bat, or arrives via a raccoon, fox, skunk, or any other mammal. Testing for rabies is difficult and can only be done following death. There is no treatment for animals showing signs of rabies. Sadly, euthanasia is the only answer. For vaccinated animals who have been exposed, a rabies vaccine is needed within 7 days. This thing is scary! Want to use the Google for something? Google human Rabies cases, and prepare to be scared.

Always, always, always vaccinate your horse for the basics, even if they never leave your property! The basics are: Eastern and Western Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Tetanus, and Rabies.

Colics

If a horse is colicking, you should walk them, and if they roll, they can twist their intestines. 

There aren’t enough eyeroll emojis for me to place here to cover the level of “nope” for this one. If you, dear human, are colicky, what do you most want to do? Lay in bed in the fetal position and feel incredibly sorry for yourself? Maybe lay in that position on the bathroom floor? You most definitely do NOT want to go for a nice long walk with someone pulling you along by the head. 

Please, please, please allow your horses to lay down and feel miserable! All walking does is use up precious energy for a horse who is already colicky. I know you humans feel the need to do something, and it’s hard to let your horse just lay there. Find a safe place to put your horse so they can roll if they feel the need. Call my Docs. Fill the time you would be watching them with making sure you have your horse insurance paperwork in place, making sure your trailer and vehicle are ready to go if needed, and come up with a plan that works for you in case this is a bad colic. Bad colics require a financial plan. Use this time to run through scenarios. Trust me, it’s way easier to have an answer ready when my Docs ask, “Is surgery an option?”

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

And about that twisting gut thing: It doesn’t work that way. I know it seems like it should, but in the wise words usually attributed to Dr. Neal DeGrasse Tyson, People don’t think the universe be like it is, but it do. I feel these words could be changed to, People don’t think horses be like they are, but they do. Horses roll because they have twisted their large colon and it’s painful. The twist occurs due to an impaction with a buildup of gas behind it, and the contraction of the intestine trying to move the impaction. So, the rolling doesn’t cause the twist, the rolling is a result of the twist. Make sense?

EPM, Ulcers, Kissing Spines, Lyme Disease

My horse has *insert disease* because I Googled it and the symptoms match. This one gets two myths, legends, or sketchy ideas. Also, I found this supplement on the internet that says it will fix *insert disease* and it has a lot of likes and shares so it must be good.

These, and many other diseases, are real. However, more often than not, they aren’t what’s wrong with the horse. The more common things like bad feet, arthritis, or tendinitis are causing the problem. The other problem with many of these diseases is actually diagnosing them. Let’s take EPM for example. 

There are several blood tests available. None are particularly good at telling us if a horse has EPM. They can indicate that it’s unlikely a horse has EPM, but not the other way around. If they are positive, you may as well flip a coin. That horse may have EPM, or it may have been exposed to it, and if you live anywhere in most of the United States, chances are good your horse has been exposed to it. 

To actually diagnose EPM, you need some of the fluid around the spine. That is the only definitive way to know. Lyme disease is even harder! The worst version of Lyme disease is very often negative to every test available on a living animal!! This uncertainty causes the very worst in humans to rear their ugly heads: The Snake Oil Salesman. 

I’m going to help out here because I’m such a generous cat: if a “treatment” is not recommended by your veterinarian, it’s because it doesn’t work. Even worse, if it is widely advertised on the Faceplace and has tons of comments, but your veterinarian rolls their eyes when you mention it, it’s because this product will only take your money, and not help your horse. I promise you, my Docs want your horse better, and they want to do it in the most economical way they can. Horses don’t always go in for that plan, but my Docs try their absolute hardest.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Wounds

This *insert product name* is the absolute best for wounds. Look at this picture of the healed wound I found on the internet!

This one is short and sweet. For all the effort horses put into hurting themselves, they really, really want to heal. Most of the time it’s a matter of staying out of the way of the healing process, not putting some goop in the middle of it. Ten minutes daily with a hose, and good bandaging are the keys to wound healing. Sure, my Docs will add some stuff to really dirty or nasty wounds, and they use things like Silver Sulfadiazene, or Manuka Honey to help wounds heal faster, but the cornerstone of wound care is water and bandaging.

A cat could go on and on about all the crazy ideas horse people have, but I won’t. I’ll go back to my sage advice at the beginning of this week’s blog: If your horse has something wrong, talk with my Docs. They will help figure out what’s really going on, and find the best treatment possible. And it will probably be a lot cheaper than that other stuff.

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. If you want more, the humans have a podcast on this very topic, with the same name I used for this blog. I know, I was a bit lazy, but come on, I’m a cat. Anyway, you can find it over on the Podcast Page of my website. With over 100 episodes now, you’ll likely find some other good stuff to listen to. It’s a great free resource, and it was all my idea, of course. 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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Dry Weather and Colic

Dry Weather and Colic

Tuesdays with Tony

This weather sucks. I know you’re shocked to get my honest opinion, but as a cat I feel I owe it to my adoring fans to be true to my nature, and my nature doesn’t like this weather. It’s true that I also don’t like rainy days, but I do like rain often enough that the grass doesn’t prick my paws as I walk around the Clinic property ensuring all is as it should be in my kingdom. The horses aren’t loving it either, but they have different reasons. 

 

Bits of grass, and lots of sand

 

Out in the pasture right now there are tiny bits of grass hanging on for dear life, just hoping for something resembling rain. The best we’ve gotten lately are some really foggy mornings. Those tiny bits of grass are looking really, really tasty to your horse. When your horse goes to grab that tiniest morsel of green goodness, they also pull up the roots. Those sad roots have nothing to hold onto right now, and give up the fight easily. With the roots comes sand, and you should know sand is less than ideal for the equine GI tract. If you don’t, you need to evaluate your reading habits because you aren’t reading my blog often enough. Right now horses are spending all their time looking hard for those tiny morsels, which means lots of sand is going in their GI tracts. It also means some green stuff (weeds) that isn’t grass looks better now than it normally would. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

A Rain Dance would be nice

 

Sure, a rain dance would be nice, but in the meantime what’s a horse owner to do to try to help their horses make good decisions? HaHa! Horses never make good decisions. Just kidding (sort of). Anyway, real help. Look at your pasture set up to see if you can rotate the heck out of your pastures. Using the plastic step-in T-posts and electric tape is an easy way to block off areas of pasture to let them recuperate. Give pastures at least 10 days, and 14 days if possible, before putting horses back on them. While you won’t grow amazing grass this way, you will keep things at a tolerable level. If you can’t block off pastures, consider putting hay out. Now we normally talk about this at the first freeze, but with no grass, now’s a good time to start with hay. To avoid unscheduled visits from one of my Docs, be sure to slowly increase the amount of hay you’re putting out over 7-10 days. Don’t put a roll of coastal out until they are walking away from flakes, and be sure to add ½-1 flake of alfalfa or peanut hay daily to their diets. If you really want to minimize the risk of colic from hay, go with alfalfa or orchard/alfalfa pasture bales. Lots of horses can’t eat these without packing on the pounds, and for those coastal hay is a great option. 

 

Other ways to avoid Unscheduled Visits

 

This drought has been very noticeable for one thing around the Clinic: more colics. Let me tell you what my Docs don’t want to see you for: A Colic. They don’t like them any more than you do!!! Here’s my step-by-step process to avoid unscheduled visits thanks to the dreaded C word:

  1. Give your horse at least ½ flake peanut or alfalfa hay daily. One flake would be even better. These hays are high in natural salt content so they get your horse to head to the water trough, and they both have a natural laxative effect to help prevent impactions.
  2. Add water to your horse’s grain. This is the easiest way to get horses to “drink” more water. The soupier the better! It’s all added hydration.
  3. Be aware of how much sand they can consume. If you live on a sandy property, your horse is eating tons of it right now. If you don’t live on a sandy property, your horse is eating some right now. Feeding lots and lots of hay is the best way to move sand through the system! If in doubt, add in one of the sand clearing products for one week out of every month to really clean the pipes. My Docs can also x-ray or ultrasound for sand to help you have an idea how much sand is in there. 

We are all holding out hope for a lovely rainy week or two, but until that comes, I hope the cat wisdom helps you keep the colic away!

Now be a good human: 1. Scroll down a tiny bit farther 2. Subscribe to my blog 3. Never miss a bit of Tony wisdom.  It’s good stuff!

Until next week,

~Tony

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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Sand Colic

Sand Colic

Tuesdays with Tony

Ahh, Florida. The rest of the world is sure it’s all sun, surf, and sand. They’ve got 2 out 3 right, and according to Meatloaf that ain’t bad. Where am I going with this? To the sand. For reasons I don’t understand, horses feel it’s appropriate to eat sand. This can, obviously, lead to problems. This week, we’re going to talk about those problems. More importantly, we’re going to talk about how to be smarter than your horse so that you can avoid these problems. I have faith you humans can do it. I’m not asking you to be smarter than a cat. That would be impossible.

 

How do I know they have sand?

 

Many of you have likely heard of the Ziploc bag test. I’m sure this is a use Ziploc did not envision for their handy plastic bags. This test involves grabbing a few fecal balls from a fresh, clean pile, adding water, sealing the bag (very, very important step), and shaking. Let the bag sit for a few minutes, and see if there’s sand in the bottom. There will be sand. After all, we do live in Florida. The question is how much sand is there? If there’s ¼ sand or less to ¾ poop in your sand-to-poop ratio, congratulations your horse is moving sand out of the gut. That word ‘moving’ is important. That’s the limitation of this test. It is moderately useful, but it only tells us that sand is moving out of the gut. You see, horses are sneaky. They also like to have a gut full of sand that’s just sitting there doing nothing! That sand won’t show up on the Ziploc test.

 

Behold! The awesomeness of x-rays and ultrasound! If my Docs have a sand suspicion, but no sand on the baggie test, they pull out the big guns. They will start with the ultrasound. My Docs will put an ultrasound probe right on the middle of the bottom of the abdomen. If there’s sand, they will see a colon with no ridges. Those ridges are what they call sacculations of the large colon. These sacculations are what allow the colon to expand with gas and food, then shrink down as it empties. Sand, however, fills all that up. Sometimes, it can be a little tough to decide on ultrasound thanks to gas. Ultrasound can’t see through gas, so if your horse has a lot of it, and horses often do have a lot of gas, the Docs will switch to x-ray. They shoot an x-ray through the bottom of the abdomen, and get an image that looks like this:

Getting Rid of Sand

 

Great, you’ve now identified that your horse has sand in the belly. How do you get rid of it? If there’s lots of it, my Docs will tube your horse with a combination of psyllium (basically Metamucil), Epsom salts, and mineral oil. The psyllium and Epsom salts work to grab the sand, pick it up, and move it out of the gi tract. The mineral oil works to protect the walls of the GI tract from all that abrasion as the sand moves. You can just imagine how abrasive that can be…..go ahead, imagine. Usually one treatment clears the sand, but sometimes it takes more than one. Rarely, my Docs have to bring one of these guys into the clinic for IV fluids along with the Epsom salts, and psyllium. I will say it is very impressive when they start passing sand. There’s nothing like sand, psyllium, Espom salt diarrhea to really make a mess out of stall!

Springhill Equine

Even better, keep sand out

 

“On ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” was never more true than sand and horses. The number one key is hay. Yep, hay, and lots of it. As far as horses are concerned, this is the key to preventing lots of things. For sand, hay acts like a vacuum. As all that roughage travels through the GI tract, it sucks up the sand, and sends it out the back end safely. If you’ve paid any attention to my blogs, or the awesome seminars my minions have, you know that the minimum amount of hay a horse should eat is 1-2% of their body weight daily. That’s 12-24 pounds for the average horse every day. Live on a sand hill? Stay closer to that 24 pound number!

 

Minimizing the amount of sand that goes in will also help. Feeding hay from slow feed hay nets, or off clean rubber mats can help reduce sand consumption. Keeping your fields from being overgrazed can also help. When horses are seeking out the small amounts of grass in an otherwise sandy field, they will eat way, way more sand. Bringing horses into a stall for grain meals can also reduce the amount of time they spend snuffling through sand to get that very last pellet they dropped. (Total shameless plug for our ‘How To Handle Your S#!t Seminar’ this Thursday at the Clinic, to help you keep those fields in good shape.)

 

With a little strategy, you can avoid those pesky unscheduled calls with my Docs for a sand colic. And I know how much you humans enjoy a good unscheduled visit. Think your horse might have sand? Call the Clinic to schedule an x-ray or ultrasound to see what’s inside!

 

Now be a good human and subscribe to my blog. That way you can get all my awesomeness a day before everyone else.

Until next week,

~ Tony

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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Colic Mythbusters

Colic Mythbusters

Tuesdays with Tony

I hope everybody was able to make it out to my recent Colic Seminar. Boy, did I learn a lot! Apparently there are several common misconceptions out there about colic that are not based on reality at all. In case you missed it, I am here to share my wealth of cat knowledge with you, and to bust those colic myths right out of the park!

Myth #1: Colic is a twisted gut.

Truth: The term ‘colic’ actually refers to a series of signs of pain, and doesn’t necessarily indicate a GI problem at all. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my years as supervisor of an equine veterinary clinic, it’s that every horse colics differently. Some horses lay down and roll, but others paw and bite at their sides, still others simply don’t finish their grain and lift their upper lip (called the Flehmen response). I’ve heard of horses acting neurologic in their efforts to get comfortable, or even running erratically around their pasture.

This pain syndrome we call ‘colic’ can be caused by cramping, gas, a fever, a GI impaction, a urinary tract obstruction, severe pneumonia, stomach ulcers…. the list goes on. Basically, the vet’s job is to determine why your horse is colicking, and to make sure it’s not one of those rare but life-threatening ‘bad’ causes of colic, such as a twist (volvulus), strangulation, or displacement (a section of bowel is not where it’s supposed to be).

Myth #2: Horses twist their gut when they roll.

Truth: Not so fast. Have you ever seen a horse roll in the dirt, get up, shake off, and go about their day? I see the horses out in the paddocks do that all the time! I can also tell you that many horses go to surgery for a large intestine displacement or small intestine volvulus (180 degree twist) having never rolled.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Now, if you came to my wonderful Colic Seminar, you learned from Dr. Abbott that the horse’s GI tract, from mouth to rectum, measures over 100 feet. So there is definitely the potential for things to get tangled up in there. Here is the current understanding of what vets believe happens when horses actually ‘twist their gut’: Your horse gets dehydrated. This may be because there was a sudden temperature drop and he didn’t feel as thirsty as usual. Or, it may be because you were hauling to a competition and he didn’t have a water bucket in front of him the whole time. Or, it may be that he had a hoof abscess and he didn’t feel it was worth the pain to hobble on over to the water trough. For whatever reason, your horse became dehydrated, and now there is not enough moisture within his GI tract for his food (usually hay) to move along. So, it gets stuck. Now we have an impaction. Bummer.

Once your horse has an impaction, gas builds up behind (or on the mouth side of) the impaction. This gas-filled section of colon then tends to float up, and given the right circumstances, flip over top of the heavy, ingesta-filled section of colon. Now you’ve got yourself a ‘twisted gut,’ no rolling required.

Myth #3: Mineral oil is better than electrolyte solution.

Truth: This myth was busted LIVE by Dr. Vurgason at my awesome Colic Seminar, but in case you missed it, here’s how it went down. She put a fecal ball in a cup of mineral oil… it just sat there, unchanged, floating around, the whole time. She put another fecal ball in a cup of our top-secret electrolyte solution… and even before the seminar was over, it had almost completely dissolved and dispersed. This is the same solution our docs would administer to your horse via stomach tube if he were colicking. Shhhh, don’t tell anybody my secret recipe: it’s Epsom salt, lite salt, regular salt, and baking soda!

This amazing combination acts as a laxative, while also maintaining specific levels of certain minerals such as Magnesium, Sodium, Chloride, and Calcium to draw more water into the GI tract from the rest of the body. Mineral oil is a little old-school, but it does have it’s place. It will serve as a marker that your horse has passed the impaction when you see oil coming out his rear end. Other than that, we don’t think mineral oil is worth it’s salt.

Myth #4: There’s nothing I can do to prevent a colic.

Truth: While nobody can 100% prevent every type of colic, there are definitely things you can do to make it less likely that you will have a colic emergency. First off: water, and lots of it. Horses need to drink about 10 – 15 gallons of water per day just to maintain their hydration, and that’s not taking into account ongoing water loss such as sweating on a hot day. But as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. What you can do, however, is add soaked beet pulp or soaked alfalfa cubes/pellets to his diet in order to get more moisture into him. You can also add about 1 tablespoon of salt to his feed twice daily to encourage him to drink.

In addition to water, your choice of hay and how you feed it can greatly alter your horse’s colic risk. Coastal hay has a known association with impaction colics. In my docs’ experience, the more fine, short, ‘cow-quality’ coastal hay is even more likely to cause an impaction. If you choose not to eliminate coastal hay from your horse’s diet, my docs strongly recommend adding about 1/4 flake of alfalfa or peanut hay for every flake of coastal hay you feed. These legume hays have laxative effects which help to keep the coastal hay moving through your horse’s GI tract.

Another common and semi-preventable type of colic we see is sand colic. By feeding your horse’s hay and grain in elevated feeders or hay nets, you can limit their accidental ingestion of sand. In addition, feeding psyllium in the form of Sand Clear pellets for 1 week a month can help to “clean out” the sand from the colon. Alfalfa hay can also help to achieve this goal by essentially raking the sand from the bottom of the large intestine where it likes to settle, and carrying it out in the manure.

If you enjoyed my Colic Seminar, you won’t want to miss my next See Tony Event: my First Aid Seminar, coming up on April 11th at 6:30pm, right here at the clinic. Hope to see all you cool cats there!

-Tony

P.S. If you’d like to watch the video of the colic seminar, or any of our other amazing videos, you can find them on our YouTube channel

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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Colic vs COLIC, and the Cost

Colic vs COLIC, and the Cost

Tuesdays with Tony

Colic vs COLIC, and the Cost

If I’ve learned anything from my years here at the Clinic, it’s that there’s colic, and then there’s COLIC. The colic kind of colic means some Banamine, some water and electrolytes, and, gasp, a whole lot less food over the next couple days. The COLIC kind of colic means one of two things: a whole bunch of fluids through an IV catheter, or surgery, or, even worse, both. The other difference: how much they cost. Being the wise and wonderful cat I am, I’m going to share with you all I learned about horse insurance the other night so that you can be prepared for the serious amounts of money COLIC can cost.

There are three different price brackets when talking about colic treatment. For the simple colic that just needs some drugs and some fluids, you can expect it to run somewhere in the $400 – $600 range. These things usually happen after hours, so there’s an emergency fee in there (unless you are on a Springhill Equine Wellness Plan!). If it’s a medical colic that doesn’t require surgery, but needs to come stay at the clinic for a few days, you’re looking at $800 – $2,000, depending on all kinds of things. This will include oversight by Yours Truly, so there’s that. For surgical colic, there is a very wide range of cost, because there’s a very wide range of surgeries, depending on what’s wrong. You can expect it to be somewhere between $7,500 – $15,000. I know, I know. I’ve napped on cars that were cheaper than that, too. So, let’s talk about insurance.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

I can’t afford horse insurance

 

I’ll admit, I thought horse insurance was a whole lot of money. However, I learned from Rhonda Mack from Jerry Parks Insurance in Ocala, that for around $350 per year, a horse could have $11,000 of colic surgery coverage! That is a very reasonable number. But. Yep, I’m going to have a but here. This covers colic, but not much else. Keep reading for more insurance stuff, but know that there are very, very reasonable options to make sure you can help your horse.

 

How does insurance for horses work?

 

First, everyone decides on a value for your horse. No, you don’t just get to pick a number, any number. The value is based on purchase price (or stud fee if it’s a baby), training, show record, yada, yada, yada. Okay, we have a number. Now we start with a basic mortality policy. Everybody starts here. The premium on this policy is a percentage of that value number we came up with.

 

Now that you have mortality, you can add things like major medical or a medical assistance plan. Major medical will pay for just about anything your horse can do to themselves from colic to pneumonia to major lacerations to eye issues (and holy cow, can those get expensive fast!). Major medical will even help with diagnostics and treatments for lameness. More on the lameness stuff later. Or, for a more economical package, you can go with the assistance plan. It helps with colics, lacerations, etc., but not lameness. What does all this mean? You’ve got options when it comes to insurance!

 

One kicker to horse insurance is the pre-existing condition. If your horse has a problem with something, that thing gets excluded on future insurance policies. For example, your horse develops a left front lameness. My amazing Docs do their thing, and determine your horse has a lesion in the Suspensory ligament on that leg. Insurance will cover things this time around, but not after that.

 

Lameness and Insurance

 

If horses only got lame just after their insurance was renewed, we wouldn’t need to have this discussion. Horses don’t work that way, though. They like to go with “I’m going to go lame right before this insurance policy expires” plan. Great, you think. That horse I used as an example above with the Suspensory injury will be out for 6 months minimum. You won’t get to use all your insurance benefits because it happened 2 months before renewal. Never fear. In that scenario, the Suspensory will be covered for 3-4 months (depending on the insurer) of the new policy. But (I hate that word), it will be excluded after that and for all eternity going forward. Moral of the story here: have a talk with my Docs about lameness and insurance. It will help you make decisions.

 

What about ColiCare?

 

ColiCare, and a couple other similar programs, can be great ways to cover colic surgery! There’s a big but with them: they only cover surgery; not a medical colic. My Docs have the most experience with ColiCare, and they love it. SmartPak is easy to work with, and the payouts have been really quick and easy. My Docs are pretty “Meh” on the value of the supplement, but worth talking to them about it!

 

I know I can be a little bit snarky, but in all fairness to you humans, colic is tough. Heck, horse emergencies are tough. Insurance may be a way to help you handle those crazy emergencies a little better. Now I have to harass them about insuring me. There’s no way to put a value on all this amazingness, though, so that’s going to be tough.

 

Now be a good human. Scroll down a little further and subscribe to my blog. And if my blog isn’t enough to satiate your thirst for horse knowledge, check out the podcast the humans do called Straight From the Horse Doctor’s Mouth. You can get it on all the usual places, and I’ll admit, it’s pretty good, especially considering I’m not even on it. Imagine how awesome it would be if I was?

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

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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