Equine Dental Care
One of the most important measures you can
take to ensure continued good health is routine dental work. Regular dental work
helps to keep your horse comfortable in his daily work and allows him to use his
Horses chew in a side to side or figure-eight
motion. This action and constant growth in your horse’s teeth mean that unless
the wear is even and uniform, sharp points and hooks will form on the edges of
cheek teeth (wolf teeth, premolars and molars).
Floating is the “rasping” or filing of points
on the teeth to prevent them from cutting the cheek or tongue. Floating might
involve leveling of the molar arcades or rounding the surface of the second
premolar to resemble the end of a thumb. The goal of floating is to maintain the
symmetry and balance of the arcade and to allow free chewing motion.
Here are some signs of dental problems to be
aware of: weight loss, dropping feed while eating, difficulty chewing, head
tilting while chewing and riding related issues.
Routine dental exams provide an opportunity to
perform preventative dental maintenance and avoid having minor problems that
become serious down the road.
We recommend that a routine dental exam be
performed every 6-8 months and a floating every 12 months. The end result is a
happier, healthier and more comfortable horse!
The Chinese have used
acupuncture for over three thousand years, impressive testimony to its
usefulness and effectiveness. After China and the United States opened political
relations in the 1970’s there was an increased interest by Western practitioners
in using it as a treatment for horses. Investigation showed it to be safe for
many previously difficult to treat medical conditions. The AVMA recognized
acupuncture as a “valid modality and an integral part of veterinary medicine”.
This technique, however, is considered a medical procedure to be practiced only
by licensed veterinarians.
Acupuncture in the horse goes
back to the ancient Chinese. The Ch’in and Han dynasties (221BC-AD220) practiced
veterinary medicine which has been verified by prescriptions written on wood
describing acupuncture and herbal treatments. Many horses were raised for the
military during the T’ang dynasty (AD618-907) and most of the books written
during this period deal with diseases of the horse. The T’ang rulers formalized
veterinary medical education and established the first veterinary school.
Acupuncture is the insertion
of fine needles into specific points of the body to regulate the flow of energy
(Chi). This energy is comprised of positive (Yang) and negative (Yin) that
courses through channels called meridians. When imbalances in these energy flows
occur pathological processes or diseases begin. External factors, emotional
factors, and pathogenic factors play an important role in creating imbalances.
Through to use of acupuncture the energy can be adjusted to reestablish
equilibrium and allow healing to take place.
Acupuncture is a very powerful
type of physiotherapy in which there is controlled activation of the spinal and
central nervous system and neuro- endocrine and systemic responses. Acupuncture
influences the physiological states of the nervous, musculoskeletal,
gastrointestinal, urogenital, respiratory, and endocrine systems. It has
analgesic, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, and immunosuppressant effects. It
also has antispasmodic effects on smooth and striated muscle, as well as
influences on microcirculation and glandular secretions. Acupuncture has no
effect on paralysis due to nerve transsection or brain damage, but does have
some effect on peripheral nerve damage. It is ineffective with severe or
irreversible pathological changes such as chronic organ damage, fracture, and
cartilage degeneration. And, it is not recommended for treating neoplasia
(tumor) or severe organic diseases.
Conditions Responsive to
of the knee, hock, ankle, or pastern
originating in the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral area
soreness as a result of bursitis due to lower leg lameness
Acupuncture has many
applications in equine medicine. The success rate is above 70 percent,
especially in back soreness and musculoskeletal, reproductive, and respiratory
disease. In the case of chronic problems of long duration successful treatment
may take several months. In acute conditions improvement may be seen with three
to four treatments at weekly or biweekly intervals. To achieve best results
acupuncture may be combined with more traditional therapies.
Acupuncture is a safe and
versatile technique that offers a good alternative to traditional Western
veterinary medicine. It cannot cure every condition but it has given many a
*Information from: Healing your Horse
Alternative Therapy; Snader, et al.
The number one killer of horses is colic. Colic is not a disease, but rather
a combination of signs that alert us to abdominal pain in the horse. Colic can
range from mild to severe, but it should never be ignored. Many of the
conditions that cause colic can become life threatening in a relatively short
period of time. Only by quickly and accurately recognizing colic – and seeking
qualified veterinary help – can the chance for recovery be maximized.
A major problem for you as a horse owner is identifying the
signs of colic. That's because signs can vary greatly between individuals and
may also depend on the severity of the pain. However, among the more common
Turning the head toward the flank
Kicking or biting at the abdomen
Stretching out as if to urinate without doing so
Repeatedly lying down and getting up or attempting to do so
Rolling, especially violent rolling
Sitting in a dog-like position, or lying on the back
Lack of appetite (anorexia)
Putting head down to water without drinking
Lack of bowel movements, as evidenced by the small number of manure
Absence of, or reduced, digestive sounds
Rapid respiration and/or flared nostrils
Elevated pulse rate (greater than 52 beats per minute)
Lip curling (Flehmen response)
Taking Immediate Action
Time is perhaps the most critical factor if colic is to be
successfully treated. While a number of cases resolve without medical
intervention, a significant percentage do require prompt medical care, including
emergency surgery. If you suspect your horse is suffering from colic, the
following action plan is suggested:
1. Remove all food and water.
2. Notify your veterinarian immediately.
3. Be prepared to provide the following specific
- Pulse rate
- Respiratory rate (breathing)
- Rectal temperature
- Color of mucous membranes
- Capillary refill time (tested by pressing on gums adjacent to teeth,
releasing, then counting the seconds it takes for color to return)
- Behavioral signs, such as pawing, kicking, rolling, depression, etc.
- Digestive noises, or lack of them
- Bowel movements, including color, consistency and frequency
- Any recent changes in management, feeding, or exercise
- Medical history, including deworming and any past episodes of abdominal
- Breeding history and pregnancy status if the patient is a mare, and
recent breeding history if the patient is a stallion
- Insurance status and value of the horse (NOTE: The insurance carrier
should be notified if surgery or euthanasia is being considered).
4. Keep horse as calm and comfortable as possible. Allow
the animal to lie down if it a appears
to be resting and is not at risk of injury.
5. If the horse is rolling or behaving violently, attempt
to walk the horse slowly.
6. Do not administer drugs unless specifically directed to
do so by your equine practitioner. Drugs may camouflage problems and interfere
with accurate diagnosis.
7. Follow your veterinarian's advice exactly and await his
or her arrival.
Diagnosing the Case
Your equine practitioner will establish the severity of the
colic and identify its cause. His or her examination and/or treatment may
include the following procedures:
Observation of such signs as sweating, abdominal distension (bloating),
rapid breathing, flared nostrils, and abnormal behavior
Obtaining an accurate history
Passage of a stomach tube to determine presence of excess gas, fluids,
Monitoring vital signs, including temperature, pulse, respiration (TPR),
color of the mucous membranes, and capillary refill time
Rectal palpation for evidence of intestinal blockage, distension, or
Blood test for white cell count and other data
Abdominal tap in order to evaluate protein level and cell type in the
Analgesics or sedatives to relieve pain and distress
Laxatives to help reestablish normal intestinal function
Continued observation to determine response to treatment
Attributing the AAEP
With the help of computer enhancement this modality allows for
accurate evaluation of bone for evidence of arthritis, fractures and other joint
abnormalities. Rare Earth screens and an intensifying grid aids in providing a
sharp image. The image processing center allows us to digitalize all of our
diagnostic images. Once the image is in a digital format, several options are
available. The image can be computer enhanced (sharpened or zoomed), archived
for future review/comparison, emailed to another veterinarian, or uploaded to
the Veterinary Specialists Network for consultation with other specialists.
Soft tissue injury is best evaluated by using an ultrasound.
Tendon and ligament strains can be diagnosed and monitored with accuracy. We
also use the ultrasound to help us diagnosis pregnancy in mares and in routine
reproductive exams. The ultrasound is a great tool in predicting ovulation
because it has the ability to measure follicles more accurately than palpation
Lameness is any abnormality in a horse's gait which is an indication of a
structural or functional disorder in one or more limbs of a horse that is
apparent during motion or in the standing position. Lameness is most often due
to a muscle , joint or bone abnormalities.
How a lame horse is examined depends largely on the type of lameness. Some
lameness cases are easily diagnosed by history, presentation and a physical
examination. However, other lameness disorders (often mild lameness), may
require joint flexions, diagnostic nerve/joint blocks, radiography,
ultrasonography, nuclear scintigraphy and other diagnostic procedures.
A pre-purchase exam includes a physical exam, soundness exam,
radiology, endoscopy, ultrasonography, routine blood work and drug screening.
Each pre-purchase exam is tailored around the buyers needs and intended use of
Deciding exactly what should be included in the purchase examination requires good communication between you and your veterinarian.
are equipped with a 3-meter gastroscope and a 1-meter laryngic-scope, which
allows us to examine the inside of the stomach for gastriculcers and to diagnose
any disorders of the larynx and pharynx. We also have a 1-meter laryngic-scope
that is portable and can be used in the field.