Cooler weather

Cooler weather

Tuesdays with Tony

I sure am loving these cooler temperatures, aren’t you? The horses seem to be enjoying them as well. I’ve even noticed that some horses are starting to get their winter coats. Personally, I’m not ready for my minions to break out my flannel. In fact, if that thing were to go missing, I would not be upset.

Every year about this time my docs start to see a rise in the number of colics and I get numerous questions about how to best prepare for the cooler weather ahead. The best way to prepare is to spend as much time as possible napping in the warm sunshine, soak it all up and you will be one happy cat. Preparing your horses for the cooler temperatures is a little more involved, from clipping to blanketing to preventing the dreaded colic.

Clipping

Once, and only once, did I allow the humans to clip me. Granted, it was just my belly for some diagnostics but still, don’t think that I will ever let that happen again. Horses, on the other hand, tend to require clipping more frequently than us cats. I suppose that’s because they don’t spend hours a day grooming themselves. Here in Florida, horses like to blow their winter coat long before it’s actually cold. The days get shorter, so horses think it’s time to grow a thick coat to prepare for the colder weather. What they don’t seem to realize is that we live in Florida where the highs are still well into the 80s even in October and November, and the humidity is, well, suffocating at times. This is really when clipping becomes important.

While clipping for a horse show is all well and good, clipping for function can prevent problems from arising. A long coat and a hot, humid day are recipe for skin funk. Not only is dermatitis a pain to get rid of, it can also be painful and irritating to your horse.  By clipping your horse’s body and legs you can help prevent moisture from getting trapped in that thick coat, thus preventing the development of the dreaded skin funk. If you do find yourself with a horse with rain rot or other skin issues, just reach for your handy-dandy CK shampoo and salve.

Sometimes a full body clip is not always what is best for your horse.  Trace clips come in super handy in these situations.  There are about a million different types of trace clips, just pick one you like and that works for you and off you go. That being said, a trace clip still leaves your horse prone to developing dermatitis over his back. Be sure to dry your horse thoroughly after every ride.

Horses with full winter coats are at an increased risk of overheating when the days get up into the 80s. Horses with Cushings and/or anhidrosis (non-sweaters) are at even more risk during hot days when their coats are very thick. Overheated horses are prone to many illnesses including laminitis, organ failure, and even death. Keeping that heavy winter coat off of them can certainly help reduce the risk of overheating.

Blanketing

Now that you’ve clipped your horse, it’s probably going to get unbearably cold. You know and I know that if it dips below 50 in Florida, we’re all freezing. The humans break out the winter coats and even I stick to the indoors. Just because you’re cold does not mean your horse is cold. And every horse is different in their tolerance of cold. There are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to blanketing your horse. If your horse has been fully body clipped, a stable sheet below 50 degrees and a stable blanket below 40 degrees should suffice. On those nights when it gets down to the 30s you can double up and put both stable sheet and stable blanket on.

If your horse has a trace clip you shouldn’t need more than a stable sheet below 40 and a blanket if it gets into the 30s. Most horses who have not been clipped don’t require any blanketing. Instead, just feed them a little extra hay and that will help them regulate their temperatures. It is also important to consider what environment your horse is in. If he is in his stall, a stable sheet and blanket will do, but if he stays outside, always make sure he is in a weatherproof sheet or blanket. No one likes to be wet under a blanket. If you have more questions on blanketing, just ask my docs what they recommend for your horse. In the meantime, I will be hiding my flannel somewhere where they can’t find it.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Colic

Every time the weather changes, there’s an uptick in the number of colics my docs see. More often than not, this is because horses tend to decrease the amount of water they drink when the weather gets cooler. Therefore, they become prone to impactions and dehydration. The best way to prevent this from happening is to make sure your horse drinks plenty of water. If I have learnt nothing else in my time around horses, it is that the saying “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” is the most true statement ever. That being said, you can force water into your horse in round-about ways.

One such way is soaking their feed. Of course, there are some horses who refuse to eat soaked feed. Your second option is to soak their hay. They inadvertently get water even if they don’t want it.  I also highly recommend adding salt to their diet. You do not need any of those fancy electrolytes or pink salts, just regular old table salt will do. About a tablespoon a day top dressed on their feed will increase your horse’s water consumption. Of course, there are those picky horses out there who just refuse to eat their feed if there is salt present in it. Alternatively, you can have free choice salt blocks around for them to decide they would like it. Even still, sometimes these tricks don’t work.

For really tough horses, you can make a “sweet tea” water. No, I do not recommend actually giving your horse sweet tea. What I do recommend is adding a handful of sweet feed, senior feed, or a bit of molasses to one water bucket so that it becomes sweet tea colored. If you choose this route, remember you MUST dump and rinse the bucket daily as the feed can ferment, mold and just get overall nasty. Also, make sure to have fresh, clean, plain water available at all times.  For other tricks and tips to increase water consumption when the temperatures drop, give the docs a call. They are always happy to discuss these things with you.

Until next time, stay warm, and hide in your flannel.
~Tony

 

P.S. As always, if want to really get your horse nerd on, be sure to check out my docs podcast page, right here. It has everything you want to know and more! 

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 Young Horse Myth

The Young Horse Myth

Tuesdays with Tony

Ah Horse People. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from lounging on the bench at the clinic, it’s that horse people hold on to a myth as if it was a rule written into the very fabric of the universe. I’ve covered many a myth, tale, legend, and even a few quackeries in my time writing this blog. Today I’m going to cover a biggie: exercise and the young horse. If you’ve ever been to a horse event of any sort or visited the internet then you know there are feelings out there about exercise and the young horse. Let’s talk about those feelings.

The Closure of Growth Plates

Seems obvious to me. A baby. Well, with horses it’s not quite so obvious, and then add in breed differences and it gets all crazy. In general, science calls a horse “young” if there’s still growing to do. For most horses, this occurs by around 24-26 months. Yep, even you guys over there in the Arabian crowd. In fact, in a 2011 study of horse growth plates, the arabians closed the earliest! There is a study on Icelandic horses showing their growth plates closing a little later at closer to 32-36 months. For the purposes of an exercise discussion, unless your horse is an Icelandic horse, things are good at around 2 years of age as far as bones go. You will see many, many, many memes on the internet regarding time of closure of growth plates in horses. I have no idea where the information for these memes came from. Mine came from peer-reviewed journal articles and textbooks on equine anatomy. I’m a resourceful cat like that. 

But tendons and things

As a smart cat, I know there’s more than just bones in a body. There’s tendons, ligaments, muscles, and all kinds of things. What about these things in the young horse? In the wild, baby horses must be born, learn to walk, and be ready to travel miles on day one. The soft tissues come out ready to go. That’s how you survive as a prey species. Now, if you’re a topline predator like yours truly, you can come out cute as a button with your eyes sealed shut, and an inability to move more than 6” on your own. You’ve got time to figure these things out. Horses, not so much. 

But the brain

This one you can have! Of all the reasons out there for not training young horses, mental immaturity is the only valid one. It is true that some horses can’t mentally handle a job until they’ve had some time to mature. I’m about to talk about all the other reasons humans put forth. None of those are valid. This one is. If your horse isn’t handling the stress of training, back off to low level work (you’re about to find out why some work is good) that doesn’t ask as many tough questions, but don’t stop work altogether.

Racehorses fall apart because they are started too young (myth)

Just plain nope. Not true. Really false. Not discounting the racehorses falling apart thing, just the age part. That’s a whole different blog topic, and we’re not getting into that today. What I will talk about today is the plethora of research looking at young thoroughbreds and exercise. There have been several studies looking specifically at 18-month-old thoroughbreds. One group of these horses is left out in pasture to do as they please. One group is exercised 30% more than the group in pasture. Guess who didn’t suffer any injuries? Yep, the one exercised.

Next let’s talk about studies looking at bone quality and tendon and ligament strength. Horses who were exercised at young age (18-24 months) had better bone, tendon, and ligament quality than horses who only received at-will pasture exercise. The notion of exercising them young causing breakdowns just isn’t backed up by science. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Exercise the right way

Do you finally believe the cat that simply being young isn’t a reason not to exercise? Good, because I’m right. Now let’s talk about what that exercise looks like. And here’s where this wise cat thinks the myth of young horse exercise started.

You can’t hop on a 2 year old and head off to race 1 ½ miles, or jump 1.60m, or slide 35 feet. Just like anything starting any exercise, you have to gradually increase the load until the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones can support what you are asking for. Doing this at a young age has some supreme advantages. Young tissues are primed for change. Ask any orthopedic surgeon about fractures in young animals, and they will tell you as long as you keep the bones in the same room, they will heal. That’s because young bones are in a high turnover phase. So are young tendons and ligaments.

By applying workloads to young horses you are setting the system up to succeed later in life. You’re telling all those structures where forces are going to be coming from now, so they can build good foundations. Again, this doesn’t mean hop on Day 1 and work for three hours. It does mean that 15-20 minutes of work gives all the growing structures great feedback about how they’re doing and what changes they need to make. In fact, there are papers on racehorses showing horses who enter training or racing as two-year-olds race longer than those who start as three-year-olds. That’s because the system got a chance to prep for the real work of long races earlier. 

Think about what horses were designed to do in the wild. Now, I realize your horse isn’t wild. Heck, they get mad when breakfast is 10 minutes late. However, understanding evolution can help us figure out a reasonable plan for baby horses. Got a youngster and not sure what to do for work? Give my Docs a call. They will help evaluate your horse’s fitness level, and tailor a plan for good work to create good growth. 

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my human’s podcast. They have so many topics to pick from, they update them every 2 weeks! You can find it right here.

 

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

You know I’m a Florida cat, and what would Florida be without sand? That may have you thinking of a day at the beach with a cool drink in your hand, but my friend, if you’re a horse owner, you had better start thinking of your horse’s intestines as well! Why, you ask, would I ruin your beach daydream? Sand colic! Let’s talk about it now so you can decrease the chance you’ll have to see my docs with a sand colic emergency.

 What is sand colic?

Much of Florida’s ground is composed of sand. Horses pick up sand inadvertently as they graze, or as they search for food where there is no grass. When horses run out of grass to eat, or when the grass gets very short, this becomes even more of a problem. Sand can also be consumed if horses are fed on the ground, as they pick up their pellets of grain or stems of hay. If your horse is a messy eater, he may also drop a fair bit of grain onto the sand as he eats, and then scoop up mouthfuls of sand as he tries to pick up every last crumb.

Because sand is heavy, it will sink to the lowest part of the abdomen – that’s usually the horse’s large intestine. As the sand enters the large intestine, it generally settles flat on the bottom, taking the shape of the folds of the colon. Other intestinal contents may pass above the sand, making their way out while the sand just sits there. Sand accumulation can continue without any external signs for months to years. Eventually, it will start to cause problems. The sand will irritate the lining of the intestine, like sandpaper on the delicate tissue. Your horse may have warning signs like chronic diarrhea, weight loss, or subtle mild colic. But even worse, if enough sand is ingested, it will form a partial or complete GI obstruction, blocking the whole intestine. The sand in this case can compact and become as hard as a rock. Food can’t move around the sand impaction and gas builds up, making your horse colic. If the impaction is bad enough, sand colic can be extremely severe and require surgery to correct. Don’t wait for the warning signs of sand accumulation to occur and definitely don’t wait until he is colicky to do something about it!

 How do you know if your horse has sand?

If your horse lives in Florida, you can almost guarantee he will have picked up some sand. The question is, how much is in there? There is a rough check my docs do, and you can do at home, called a sand sediment test. It sounds fancy but it’s simple. Putting a few fecal balls into a zip lock bag (my docs use a clear plastic glove) with some water, seal the bag, and mix it up. After a few minutes, check if sand has settled to the bottom of the bag. Interpreting this test is tricky though. If there is a lot of sand in the bag, it’s a pretty good indicator that something needs to be done, but if there’s not a lot, it could still be that your horse has a belly full that’s just not making its way out in the manure. My doc may also listen to the bottom of your horse’s belly with her stethoscope. In some cases, she can hear the sand moving – unsurprisingly, it kind of sounds like the beach. Like the sand sediment test though, it’s not always a crystal-clear answer. If she does hear sand, it’s a good bet your horse needs to be treated for sand accumulation. But in about 80% of cases, that sand can’t be heard, so if she doesn’t hear it, there could still be some there.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

If your horse is showing signs that might indicate sand is already irritating the intestines, my doc may recommend an x-ray of your horse’s abdomen. Sand often shows up on an x-ray lining the bottom of the intestines, and if there is a lot, it’s a clear indication that your horse needs to be treated.

How to prevent sand accumulation?

 Don’t wait until your horse colics to start thinking about sand. The best thing for your horse (and your wallet) is to prevent the emergency before it happens.

Focus on your pastures. Figure out a way to fertilize, rotate grazing, plant grass seed, irrigate your pastures, or otherwise work on getting some grass to grow! If your horses have long, healthy grass to eat, they are far less likely to pick up sand, because they won’t be grubbing for dead roots in the dirt.

  1. Feed hay. Hay is one of the best preventatives for sand accumulation. As hay travels through the GI tract, it picks up sand and drags it out in the manure. It’s especially important to feed enough hay if the grass in your pastures is short. The average adult horse should eat 1-2% of their body weight in hay daily. That’s about 10-20 pounds of hay for an average 1000 lb Quarter Horse.
  2. Feed your horses off the ground. Ideally, hay should be fed in a hanging hay net or hay feeder. Grain should be fed in elevated feed buckets with mats underneath for the crumbs that are dropped. This simple step can drastically decrease the amount of sand your horse ingests every day. You can also bring your horses into stalls for their grain meals.
  3. Give your horses SandClear daily for one week every month. If you know your property is sandy, or you don’t have the best pasture situation around, this is a great idea. SandClear is a pelleted form of psyllium that is designed as a feed-through. While it won’t fix a complete sand obstruction, it can help to carry small amounts of sand out of the intestine so it doesn’t build up and turn into a bigger problem.

 Getting rid of sand

 If your horse has consumed enough sand, he may show signs of colic, weight loss, diarrhea, or fever. You’ll definitely need to get my doc involved at this point. She may pass a tube into his stomach and give him psyllium, magnesium sulfate, or mineral oil to help drag the sand out of the intestine and lubricate the lining of the gut to protect it. More severe cases may require hospitalization and IV fluids. A heavy sand accumulation can be life threatening and may require surgery under general anesthesia to correct.

Do yourself a favor, and don’t let it get to this stage. Horses may throw a lot of surprises at you, but at least this is something you can prepare for. If you live in Florida, work on your pastures and your feeding plan to avoid a sand problem as much as possible. Talk to my docs if you want more specific advice. Then relax, make yourself an umbrella drink, and enjoy Florida life! As for me, there’s a nice sandy spot in the Springhill parking lot where I will be surveying my domain.

Until next week,

 Tony

P.S. Are you looking for more information on colics and other common, and some not so common horse issues? Take a listen to Dr. Lacher & Justin talking about colics and so much more on their podcast..Straight From the Horse Doctors Mouth!

 

 

 

 

 

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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Lipomas

Lipomas

Tuesdays with Tony

Ugh what a weekend. I like my peace and quiet on a normal weekend. My staff tends to my care, and then it’s rest and relaxation for Teenie and I so we’re refreshed and ready to tackle our supervisory duties on Monday. This weekend was nothing like that, thanks to a colic that had my Docs and techs in here multiple times throughout the night. I hate these kinds of colics. They disrupt my carefully crafted schedule. However, my Docs hate them more, especially the kind we had this weekend. Let’s talk lipomas and older horses and why they send a wrecking ball through my sleep.

What is a lipoma?

Fat. Yep, good ol’ fat like I carry around on my belly. Lipomas are tumors made up of fat. Instead of forming a nice soft, cushy layer like my belly, these are firm balls of fat. They’re pretty common under the skin of dogs, and if you’ve got a dog, you may have felt one. They’re usually two to three inches in size, and readily move with the skin. They don’t hurt, and the skin over the top of them looks pretty normal. Sometimes on dogs (and humans, by the way) they form in areas like armpits that affect movement of a limb, or become very large, and cause issues because of their size. Overall though, these are pretty boring tumors. 

Horses don’t work that way. I mean, of course they don’t! They’re horses, so they have to do it better, and by better, I mean worse for their health. In horses, lipomas often form from the mesentery of the small intestine. What the what, Tony? you say. The small intestine hangs from a giant curtain suspended from the spinal column. It’s a thin, nearly see-through tissue that carries blood, lymph, and nerves to the intestine below.  Lining those vessels and nerves is fat. Most mammals use mesentery as a place to store fat. If that’s all that happened, this would be fine. However, over time, in horses, that fat turns into a ball, that ball pulls on it’s attachment turning it into a string, and soon you have something resembling a tetherball. Remember that super fun game from your childhood with the ball on a string attached to the top of a pole? Yep, it looks like that, only hanging off the mesentery. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

When fat goes wrong

So, we’ve got a fat ball hanging from a string sitting in the abdomen. Sounds fine. That fat ball isn’t doing anything bad…..yet. But, and it’s a really, really big but, one day the stars align, the horse moves everything just right and that string with a ball on the end goes flying around in just the right way to wrap up a piece of small intestine. When it does, the string tightens around the intestine and the mesentery. This causes blood flow to the area to stop, and keeps food from passing through the affected small intestine. It also puts pressure on those nerves, and as anyone who has whacked their funny bone knows, that hurts! These horses become very painful as the pressure increases on the nerves from backed up food, swelling, and dying small intestine. This is when you, the owner, get your first hint things are going wrong. You’ve got a painful, rolling, I daresay thrashing, horse.

Now what??

When my Docs arrive on the scene, they evaluate your horse for the telltale things that point to a lipoma: scrapes around the eyes and head, evidence of rolling, and a horse over 15 years of age. No one is quite sure why small intestinal colics cause the most scrapes on heads, but they sure do. Whenever my Docs see this, they start a full-on small intestine investigation. The rolling is because these guys are pretty darn painful, and the age is since it seems to take quite a few years for these dastardly fat balls to grow. 

The first thing my Docs are going to do is get a heart rate. This is a very important number. If it’s over 60, chances are very high the colic is going to need surgery to fix. Once heart rate is established, pain and sedative medications can be given (if these are given first, my Docs can’t get an accurate heart rate). Next, some blood will be drawn to run a quick test called lactate. This test is another indicator of how bad things are. If that number is over 3.0, that’s another point towards surgery. Next step is a palpation. They’ll glove up and head in for a feel of what’s going on. Distended small intestine will feel like a tube about 5-6” in diameter. 

The ultrasound comes out next. Ultrasounds allow them to look at what that distended small intestine looks like on cross-section. A few things they look for are thickened walls, and food settled on the bottom since that indicates things haven’t been moving for a while. If there’s extra fluid in the abdomen, they can see that, too. The body puts that excess fluid in the abdomen as a way to deal with the unhappy small intestine. If it’s there, my Docs can take a sample of it. They’ll look at what color that sample is first. It should be clear and yellow. If it’s red, there’s definitely very unhappy intestine in there. Next they’ll run a lactate test on the fluid. This is the same lactate they ran on the blood. Ideally they are close to the same number. If the belly fluid is greater than 1.5-2 times what the blood has, that’s yet another indication that surgery is needed. 

Can you fix it?

Yes, but. The only way to fix these guys is surgery. At surgery the string will be cut, and the lipoma taken out. Usually these guys have a few extra lipomas hanging around, and they’ll be taken out as well. The small intestine will get checked to see if it’s okay to leave in there, or if it will need to be removed too. Older horses can handle the surgery just fine. What gets tough is all the toxins involved if the small intestine is in rough shape. These toxins do a number on the body. They can cause laminitis, along with just plain feeling like crap. And that’s the tough part. Not only is this one of the more expensive colic surgeries, but the recovery can be rough. Which brings me back to my weekend. 

We had an old guy (31 years old!!!) in the clinic this weekend. Turns out he had a lipoma. I know his owner agonized over the right decision to make for his well being. In the end, surgery wasn’t the right answer for her and she let him go. I hate that this is always a tough decision for owners. Thinking about what you would do in the same scenario and having a plan makes it easier when one of my Docs has to ask the hard question of if surgery is an option. Sometimes the answer is no, and while that’s okay, it’s never easy.

As a cat, I’m not really wired for compassion, but even I can see that being a horse comes with a lot of challenges. Some of them we can impact with good diet and foot care, and some of them we just have to deal with when they happen, like lipomas and skimpy forelocks. But the good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. My docs are here for you, and that’s a pretty good team to have in your corner.

 

Until next week,

~Tony

 P.S. If you want to learn more about all the different things that make horses colic, I have a variety of blogs on the topic. If you’d rather listen to my docs explain it, they have a couple of podcasts that take a really deep dive into the horse gut. You can find them over on my Podcast Page.

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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Rain, Rain Go Away….

Rain, Rain Go Away….

Tuesdays with Tony

I hate rain. I know we need some, but I prefer it to happen during the night, otherwise known as my inside time. During the day I like to occupy the parking space right in front of the clinic and refuse to move when anyone pulls in, or wander across the verdant fields around my spacious property, or any of a number of other top secret outdoor cat activities. For me, rain throws a large wrench in my plans. For horses, it’s a way bigger deal. We’ve had a whole lot of rain lately, so let’s talk about what that has meant for my Docs and the horses they care for.

The Incredibly Soggy Foot

Horses evolved on the steppes of Mongolia. It’s basically a colder, drier version of the United States Midwest. Not a lot of swampland or rain. This means their feet did not evolve with a water management system.  Add shoes to this lack of evolutionary pre-planning and you’ve got a mess. The repeated wet-dry cycle we have here, or sometimes just wet, causes the tubules that make up the hoof wall to suck up water and swell. When they release that water, the tubules shrink again leaving empty space between the inter-tubular material and the tubules. This repeated cycle causes hoof walls to crack and split, and the soles to erode away. If your horse has shoes on, it makes those pesky nails get loose way before the next scheduled farrier visit. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Treat the Feet

Veterinarians in drier areas of the country look at Docs from the Gulf Coast like they’re crazy when they want to keep moisture out of a foot. The obvious solution to wet feet is to keep your horse inside unless it’s dry out. This will work, but it will also cause your grass to grow even faster, and your horse to do all their pooping where you have to micromanage it daily, if not more often. There are treatments that help to form a water barrier for the foot. Durasole is great on the bottom of the foot. Durasole should be applied every day until you can no longer easily move the sole with just thumb pressure. After that, 2-3 times per week will keep the soles in tip top shape. Venice Turpentine works well here, too. My Docs have found it doesn’t work once horses are foot sore, but if you start early in the season it will prevent mushy feet. 

For hoof walls, products that are oil-based like Fiebings, and Dr. Lacher’s personal favorite, Pendray’s ProCare Plus, will help form a barrier to moisture. ProCare also contains copper which helps kill bacteria and fungus that love to eat wet feet. Keratex Hoof Hardener works great on wet hoof wall as well. These products should be applied right before turnout, and before hosing off. The more you can protect the hoof wall from water, the better you will do! 

The Always Lovely Thrush

Moisture makes thrush. Do not beat yourself up if your horse has developed thrush during the rainy season. It can be incredibly difficult to keep horse thrush-free when it’s raining 1”-2” daily. Treatment can be straightforward if you can locate Tomorrow Mastitis ointment. Do not ask me why an ointment made for cow udders fixes thrush. Cats know a lot, but they don’t know the answer to this. Trust me here though, this stuff works. Now for the bummer: it’s almost impossible to find right now. If you do locate a secret stash, apply a small amount to the affected areas of the foot after a good cleaning. Spraying a little hydrogen peroxide on the area first will help clean the cracks and crevices. If you can’t find Tomorrow, go with copper sulfate crystals. These can be procured where all things can be found, Amazon, or often at your local pool supply store. You will also need a toilet bowl wax ring. Also available on Amazon, or at any hardware store. Mix a small amount of wax, and copper sulfate together. Smoosh into the affected area. Viola!! Thrush treatment extraordinaire.

Even more foot stuff

This is my miscellaneous paragraph. Abscesses are common this time of year thanks to all those soft, mushy feet. A sudden onset of severe lameness is the most common presentation. Definitely worth a chat with one of my awesome Docs, but also check out their YouTube video on how to bandage a foot with a diaper so you’re prepared to manage this common problem. 

Can’t keep shoes on? Ask your farrier about glue-on options. These can be really great during wet season to keep you and your farrier from visiting every 2-3 days when those shoes are getting loose. And once again, before you go yelling at your farrier, this is a wet weather problem, not a farrier problem. Be nice to your farrier! 

The Skin Funk

I have extensive tomes on rain rot, and the general Florida state of skin funk. It’s a constant battle here, even for this clean fanatic cat. Once again, attempt to keep your horse dry. HaHaHa!!! I’m a funny cat. Who can do that??? Anyway, Equishield CK shampoo, salve, and spray are your friends here. Trust me. The entire clinic has seen every product, lotion, potion, and crazy concoction your mother’s uncle’s friend’s neighbor has suggested. The CK line works every time. Once you have skin funk under control, once or twice weekly spritzes with CK spray will keep that skin looking perfect. Adding some omega fatty acids to your horse’s diet will also help the skin form a better barrier. This can be done with flax seed, or there are a few omega supplements out there. My feelings on supplements are notoriously poor so I’d recommend checking with my Docs to make sure you got a supplement worth feeding.

Until next week,

Tony

P.S. Starbucks has Pumpkin Spice Latte so I’m sure drier weather will be coming soon. I know cooler weather isn’t coming. This is Florida, after all! Need help with your horse’s wet weather problems? Give my Docs a call. They have loads of experience handling the hot, wet Florida weather. Or, looking for a great learning podcast while enjoying your warm (or cold) beverage, be sure to check out my docs podcast, Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth

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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Preventing Fall Colic

Preventing Fall Colic

Tuesdays with Tony

Preventing Colic as the weather changes

Have you noticed it’s a bit nicer to be outside lately? It’s almost autumn in Florida and I’m enjoying my cat naps on the Springhill porch even more. And while Florida’s autumn has more to do with the changing of license plates colors than it does with leaves, there are still some seasonal effects you’ll notice around your farm. While it’s still pretty hot out, those shorter fall days are already creeping up on us, and with them will come slower growing grass, and hay season. I know it’s hard to imagine when the grass is still green and it’s still hot out, but now is the time to prepare for the autumn. You know how sensitive horses are, and so you’ll want to help your horse through the seasonal transition to reduce the chance of colic.

 Go Slow

You’ll want to make your autumn plan now, while it still feels like summer out – because changes involving a horse’s GI tract must be done very sloooooowwwwly. Their bellies are delicate systems and making feed changes quickly is certain to throw them off balance. You’ll want to start slowly introducing hay long before the last of the grass is eaten. Even if you have already been feeding hay, increasing the amount to compensate for less grass must also be done very gradually.

If your horse has only been eating pasture, begin by adding 5-7 pounds of hay per feeding. Coastal hay especially should be started slowly. Throwing a bunch of hay at a GI tract that’s been used to green grass is a recipe for an unscheduled visit from my docs. Add an additional 2-3 pounds of hay every 4-5 days until your horse is leaving some hay behind. Absolutely DO NOT put a roll of coastal hay out and let your horse gorge on it when he hasn’t been acclimatized to it. There is no better recipe for a type of colic called an ileal impaction.

You’ll also want to plan ahead to make sure you find a good source of QUALITY hay. My docs see a lot of colics caused by feeding poor quality hay. Let me tell you, one emergency visit to treat a colic is a lot more expensive than feeding a better quality hay to start with.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

 Add some legumes

Since your horse will be consuming more dry feed, like hay, as autumn progresses, there is more risk of an impaction colic. Coastal hay is an especially common cause, and if your horse eats this type of hay, you should plan on supplementing him with another type of hay to reduce the risk. Legume hays, like alfalfa and peanut, are salty, which helps remind your horse to drink. They also have a laxative effect on the GI tract. Both hays bring water into the gut, which helps prevent impactions. Small amounts of these hays do wonders and can dramatically reduce the colic risk. Take care that your horse doesn’t become overweight on legume hays though – they are calorie dense.

 Get water into your horse

If your horse is well hydrated, he is at less risk for an impaction colic. An average sized horse should drink approximately 10 gallons of water a day. Regularly clean out your horse’s buckets and troughs and make sure to change the water in the buckets before refilling. (I’ve seen horses poop in their buckets, haven’t you?) Keep an eye on his manure. Does it look moist and slightly shiny, or is it dry and crumbly-looking, or packed into hard fecal balls?

Get your horse used to eating soaked feed. Adding water to your horse’s grain to make it into a soup can get extra water into their system. You can even wet down his hay to increase its water content. Water consumption is especially important when the weather changes or you get a new shipment of hay. Some horses will need some time to get used to the soupy consistency of soaked feed, so introduce it ahead of time. Some horses will drink flavored water. A great way to encourage drinking is to put a few handfuls of your horse’s favorite grain into a bucket of water to make a “sweet tea”. Other horses are partial to water flavored with apple juice or Gatorade. Of course, you should continue to offer plain water as well.

We often talk about electrolytes in the summer to help replenish what is lost in sweat, but in autumn and winter, adding loose salt or electrolytes to your horse’s diet can also help to stimulate thirst and encourage water consumption.

 Other stuff to avoid colic

Provide your horse as much turnout as possible. Horses evolved to be moving around constantly. Horses that are stalled with limited turnout have an increased risk of colic. Moving around the pasture promotes gastrointestinal motility, which promotes the normal transit of food through the gut.

Make sure your horse’s dental exam is up to date. Feed that isn’t adequately chewed is harder to digest, resulting in yet another risk factor for impaction colic. The dental float should be performed once a year, so call my doc if your horse is due!

These tips apply at any time of the year to help reduce the chance that your horse will colic, but during times of weather change it’s especially important to plan ahead. Go source your good quality hay, make a feeding plan, and feel prepared for autumn to arrive! It’s still almost 90 degrees, but I hear my Springhill staff talking about pumpkin spice lattes, so I’m out of here in case they go looking for that ridiculous plaid cat sweater they offend me with every year.

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. Looking for more information on colic? Make sure you head on over to the podcast page; my docs have even more indepth talks about this. You can find the podcast by clicking here. Also, just a reminder, we are having our first in house seminar this week! It’s on Equine Asthma & Allergies. We are limiting the attendance to 20 people. You can call the office at 352-472-1620 to get your name on our guest list!

 

 

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!

Subscribe to Tuesdays with Tony

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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband