Rocky Bay Equine Newsletter, April 2016
Dr. Crystal is available for presentations.

Dr. Crystal will be giving two lectures on anatomy & lameness this month at Miracle Ranch to Pony Club members seeking certification.  Later in the month she'll speak at a Montessori school on Bainbridge.  She enjoys these presentations and the opportunity to meet others in the community.  Have a group that's interested in veterinary topics?  Give her a call.

It's not just about horses.  Did you know that Dr. Crystal also helps small ruminants, dogs & cats with acupuncture and chiropractic treatments?  Add a house call to your horse call, now that's efficient!

Wellness Care, what's that about?

Spring is a great time to initiate a wellness program for your animals.  The goal of wellness care is to detect and treat actual or potential health issues early, before they become real problems.  A little like getting that arterial stent in place before the heart attack, it’s a pro-active, preventative approach to getting and staying well.  Wellness care includes a complete and thorough physical exam, vaccination, parasite control and oral exam with dental care as needed.  We’re aiming for an “all systems go” situation for each animal as we come into the active breeding/riding/showing season.  This means that we attend to all these systems; cardio-pulmonary (heart & lungs), musculoskeletal (lameness & performance), EENTD (eyes, ears, nose, throat & dental exam), GI tract (nutrition, colic/ulcer prevention, fecal parasite evaluation), reproductive (lady parts management or foal care), integument (skin & hair coat) and general (including vaccination, body condition scoring & psyche)… does your animal act like it feels well?

Proper wellness care will enhance your animal’s overall health, productivity, performance and longevity.  It can also be a good thing for your finances by preventing small problems from becoming major ones and by decreasing the incidence of emergency calls.  Horses today are commonly kept healthy & happy well into their twenties, wellness care is an investment in their future.  We recommend routine wellness exams in the spring and fall for all of our patients.   
Vaccination Reminder

Vaccination is important for all horses in every age group.  Besides protecting the individual animal, herd vaccination decreases the severity and spread of disease introduced from an outside source. Rocky Bay Equine recommends vaccination against these core diseases; Tetanus, West Nile Virus, Eastern, Western and Venezuelan Encephalitis, Equine Herpes Virus (aka Rhino Virus) and Influenza for horses in our area.  Vaccination for other diseases such as Strangles or Rabies is recommended on a case by case basis. 

Don't forget the every six months flu and rhino vaccine requirement for entering USEF sanctioned horse shows.  You'll need documentation.  Here's a link to an audio clip about the USEF rule explaining the why's and wherefore's.
The Culicoides are Coming!

It doesn't take a clairvoyant to know what a warm, wet winter means for the bug population around here in spring & summer.  One particular tiny but annoying bugger is the culicoides midge or “no-see-ums” whose bite packs an itchy punch, especially for horses that are reactive to it’s saliva.  This tiny gnat is associated with muddy, moist habitats which we have in abundance right now acting as a nursery for the upcoming assault.  You may not see ‘em but you’ll know they’re here by your irritated, itchy horse.

Culicoides tend to feed on either the dorsal (mane, tail) or ventral (belly) areas of the host animal, depending on the species of biting gnat. They fly only in the warm months of the year and are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular).  Horses often become allergic to the bites, scratching and rubbing, causing alopecia, excoriations, and thickening of the skin.  This allergic response is known as; Summer itch, Sweet Itch, Queensland Itch, IBH - Insect Bite Hypersensitivity and SSRD or Summer Seasonal Recurrent Dermatitis.

So what to do?  It’s important to be pro active since allergic reactions tend to get worse as each season progresses and the itching can be very difficult to control until the flies die off in the winter.  Self mutilation from itching with crusty, damaged skin can attract more flies creating a continuous cycle of irritation that can really get out of hand.  The best treatment is to minimize exposure.  Culicoides are weak flyers so electric fans in stalls are effective deterrents.  Fly sheets and masks are somewhat helpful but leave some areas exposed.  Fly repellants like “Swat” (Farnam) or “Belly Balm” (Jeffers) applied to affected areas are helpful when used early and frequently.  Fly products with a relatively high concentrations of pyrethroid-permethrin have the greatest effect on gnats.  We have also had success with a product called “Eco Vet”.  Because the flies are crepuscular (active early AM & around dusk) do not turn animals out during those times.  Environmental management is also important to decrease breeding areas in standing water and moist manure.  If you know your animal has seasonal fly allergies make a management plan right now for an itch free summer!

Rocky Bay Equine Veterinary Services P.S.     (253) 858-4529    (360) 876-1544
Gig Harbor, WA 98394           find us on Facebook