They were making a fuss around here recently about a groundhog and a shadow and warmer weather. I don’t know what the big deal was I see my shadow all the time and it has nothing to do with the weather. This did, however, lead to a conversation about Spring and horses. Turns out horses face some pretty unique challenges during the warm up from our frigid winter. I realize some of my readers from the north are chuckling about the weather but this cat thought it was plenty chilly.
New green grass. New grass is very high in sugar. This sugar can quickly bring on an attack of laminitis in horses who are overweight or have Cushings. These horses are prone to a syndrome called Equine Metabolic Syndrome which causes them to have diabetes type responses to sugar. There are some treatments available but diet control and exercise are the most important.
Parasites. Parasites love Spring and Fall, feel pretty good about Winter, and hate Summer. The best parasite control methods use fecal egg counts to figure out which horses carry the most worms. Now is the best time to do fecal egg counts. Use this handy chart to determine how long you need to wait after you deworm to bring us poop:
Wait this long to bring us a sample
Pyrantel, Oxibendazole, Fenbendazole
Weather changes. Rapid weather changes play havoc with our horses GI tract. The best advice our Doctors have is water, water, water! Adding water to your horse’s grain on a regular basis helps combat those cold weather colics. A small handful of salt when temperatures suddenly drop will encourage your horse to drink.
Encephalitis. Yep encephalitis. Spring is prime time for Eastern Encephalitis. Our mosquitoes are wicked any time of year but during the Spring they are likely to be carrying this deadly disease(99% of horses who begin to show symptoms later die of the disease). The vaccine for Eastern Encephalitis is extremely effective but only lasts for a short time. We recommend giving the vaccine every 4-6 months depending on the age and lifestyle of your horse.
Skin funk. Florida is famous worldwide for its horse skin funk. Well maybe not to regular people but definitely for horse people. Keeping your horses as dry as possible is the key! Since we all know this is next to impossible this time of year, there are several treatment options for funky Florida skin. Desitin or diaper rash cream is great for lower limbs, the zinc oxide helps heal the compromised skin while simultaneously sealing water out. Dilute Listerine or dilute vinegar may help with the thorax/ back funk but will not address a serious problem. For more severe cases (all of those sensitive skinned chestnuts out there) Springhill carries a medicated CK product that comes in a shampoo, salve, rinse and spray depending on where the problem is. Silly horses I don’t understand why they can’t just clean themselves…that’s what your tongue is for!
May your litter box be clean, and your food bowl be full!