Volume 4 |  July 2017

News and Updates

Summer is here!  We hope you and your equine companion are staying cool and hydrated this season. We have some exciting news/announcements for you below:

**Please make sure your horses are up to date on vaccinations.  We have seen several encephalitis cases over the past month.  All cases were in non-vaccinated animals.

*We aim to provide the most current medicine for your equine companion!  Dr. Patrick First will be attending a continuing education seminar in Orange Beach next week on nutrition, parasitism, and suspensory injuries in horses.  

*Thank you to everyone who attended our last seminar on acupuncture and spinal manipulation! We want to hear from you!  What topic would you like us to cover at the next client education event?

Diseases to Watch out for this summer

This time of the year we see a spike in seasonally related diseases in the horses we treat.  Be on the lookout for any clinical signs noted below in your horse.

  • Equine Asthma-Also known as COPD, RAO, Heaves, and IAD.  This disease process is characterized by narrowing of the lower airways and excessive mucous production in the respiratory tract.  It is caused by certain allergen trigger factors.  Each horse is different in terms of their trigger, but in this geographical region we see a great deal of Summer Pasture Associated Recurrent Airway Obstruction.  These horses will show difficulty breathing with an increased respiratory rate as well as coughing.  In severe cases, you may notice a heave line across their abdominal oblique muscles and an expiratory wheeze when breathing. 

  • Insect Hypersensitivity-Most commonly caused by the insect cullicoides (biting midges).  These insects produce a profound hypersensitivity reaction in the horse and cause clinical signs including: itching and hair loss of the ears, topline, chest, abdomen, and tail head.  These horses will frequently itch themselves until bleeding so early diagnosis is important in relief for these animals. 

  • Anhidrosis- A disease in horses characterized by an inability or decreased ability to sweat.  Roughly 30% of horses along the gulf coast suffer from  some degree of anhidrosis.  Clinical signs include increased respiratory rate, increased temperature, lack of sweat, and lethargy.


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Service Spotlight

Lameness Screening

For those horses that are actively competing this year, make sure they are moving at their best.  We offer lameness screenings which includes watching the horse go, as well as full limb flexions for only $40.  This is a great way to spot subtle lameness issues before they become performance limiting.  

Sassy's Success Story

Sassy is a 6 year old pony from Mobile, AL.  On the eve of June 20, 2017 Sassy presented with a history of grain overload.  Sassy and her larger Belgian counterpart broke into the feed room and overate on a large amount of horse feed and corn.  On presentation, Sassy had substantial GI pain as well as pain associated with the front feet.  Both front feet were hot to the touch and had increased digital pulses.  Pulse and respiration rate were elevated with mildly injected mucous membranes.  When standing on a firm surface, Sassy was noted to be weight shifting.  GI auscultation revealed gas distension of the large colon and an extreme bloated appearance.  Grain overload in the horse frequently leads to sequelae including: endotoxemia, colic, and laminitis. 

What is grain overload?

Grain overload occurs when a large grain meal is ingested.  High starch feeds such as sweet feed, corn, or chicken feed are especially damaging to the horse.  The large carbohydrate meal is ingested, passed to the stomach, and fermented rapidly in the horse’s intestine, decreasing the pH.  This change in pH results in a rapid die off of bacteria in the gut.  These bacteria release a toxin from their cell wall as they die.  This endotoxin is absorbed into the vasculature and results in endotoxemia.  Signs of endotoxemia include the following: increased respiration rate and pulse, fever, GI pain, injected mucous membranes, and laminitis.  The horse’s feet are often a target of endotoxins resulting in inflammation of the laminae and rotation of the coffin bone in severe cases.   

Sassy’s Treatment

Sassy was sedated and a stomach tube passed to lavage any remaining grain.  The grain meal had already passed to the small intestine, so mineral oil was given to act as a laxative.  The cornerstone of endotoxemia treatment is NSAIDS, so Sassy was started on a Banamine regimen for several days.  A clay based toxin absorbant called Biosponge and a probiotic were given orally daily.  Additionally, Sassy was started on peripheral vasodilators to improve perfusion to the feet during this laminitis episode.  Sassy was restricted from all hay/grain for 24 hours.  Sassy gradually improved over 48 hours.  We are happy to say she is happy and healthy today loving life with her Belgain counterpart, “Big Mama.”

First Equine Veterinary Services | 662-684-9667 | pfirstdvm@gmail.com| www.firstequinevet.com