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Emergency Kit Must-haves: The Sterilizing Set

Emergency Kit Must-haves: The Sterilizing Set

Emergency Kit Must-Haves: The Sterile Set

This is part of a multi-part series where we discuss things that your horse’s emergency kit should have. Our last part of this series was about a medication called flunixin, which can help relieve pain in an emergency. In this post, we will discuss the set sterilizing products that should exist in every horse emergency kit.

Have you ever owned a first-aid kit for humans, and noticed just how many bandages, gauze wraps, and sanitary wipes are in there? Well, your horse’s emergency kit needs to have the same kind of set! We will cover all that this should include in full detail, but these types of things are in there to generally take care of minor cuts, scrapes, burns and other wounds. Most of these wounds won’t require a vet trip, but they are unpleasant for the horse, and if untreated, can lead to painful and dangerous infections.

  1. A roll of Cotton – This can be used to absorb fluids coming from a would or added to a bandage to extra cushioning for a wound.
  2. Gauze pads / gauze roll – This can be used to protect a wound from friction, licking, and keeps it sanitary to reduce the risk of infection. These are used in the same way that band-aids are used on people.
  3. Medical Tape – this is used to secure bandages to the horse.
  4. Latex Gloves – This is used to prevent any pathogens on your hands from contaminating the horse’s wound, which helps prevent infections.
  5. Scissors – This is great for cutting bandages, gauze, and tape to fit tightly on the horse, and to remove bandages when they are no longer needed.
  6. A wound cleaning solution – There are quite a few products that can fall into this category, and all are great to use depending on the size and depth of the wound.

Saline Solution – such as a bottle of contact-lens solution is great for flushing out delicate would, such as near the eye.

Hydrogen Peroxide- this can be used to clean dirt out of a wound but is best to not use in particularly sensitive areas, such as a horse’s face.

Rubbing alcohol – this is great to clean other instruments in your kit, such as scissors, but is not great to apply directly to the wounds of a horse. However, it can be used to prepare an injection site if you need to give your horse a shot.

7.Antibiotic Ointment – this can be applied to wounds to help prevent infection. This is the same kind of triple antibiotic you would use on a wound for a person.

We understand that much of this is self-explanatory when you think about it, since this is a lot of stuff that you can also find and use on human injuries, but we would rather state the obvious than risk you not having these in your horse’s emergency kit. For more helpful information about horse health, join our newsletter or tune back into future posts!

Aging and Retiring Horses

Aging and Retiring Horses

Just like people, horses age with the passage of time and can eventually die from old age. Due to the improvement of veterinary practices, technology, and horse care, horses now reach their golden years much more often than they did previously. An aging horse is likely to experience some of the unpleasant symptoms with aging, and in this post, we’re going to discuss how to properly care for your horse friends as they age.

Aging In Horses

Signs of aging in horses are not always all that different from aging in people, for example, horses’ fur and manes will often lighten in color and turn gray with age and they may experience lameness, arthritis, a loss of muscle mass, poorer eyesight. An addition, aging horses may have drooping fetlocks, prominent withers, sunken eyes, hearing loss, weight loss, weakened immune systems, and more.

Horses that are elderly are also more prone to developing certain diseases, such as Cushing’s Disease, Osteoarthritis, and general cardiovascular, digestive, and endocrine issues.

Caring for an Elderly Horse

Older horses may require special diets. Sometimes, older horses have damaged teeth, and require special food that does not need to be chewed as much. As horses age, and therefore naturally experience declines in the performance of their gastrointestinal tract, they may have a more difficult time getting all the nutrients they need from their food. Because of this, it is common to give older horses vitamins and supplements.

If you believe your horse is experiencing joint pain, a veterinarian may recommend specialized horseshoes to help with it, treatments with NSAIDs such as flunixin, or even injections of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids or hyaluronic acids.

As horses get older, and their immune systems naturally decline, keeping up with routine vaccinations and deworming becomes even more important. Some suggest that when deworming, or testing for the need to deworm, it is a good idea to quarantine older horses to reduce the risks of parasites spreading while you work to get them under control.

How to Know When to Stop Riding

No one likes giving up riding time with their horses, but at a certain point, it is necessary to because it may just be too hard on an older horse’s body. While there is no exact, hard and fast number, many veterinarians recommend that you stop riding your horse somewhere when he or she is 18-25 years old. This number can change a bit depending on the health of the horse, and how well they are adjusting to aging.

Up until this point, you may have ridden, but noticed that your horse is riding slower. This is perfectly normal and to be expected for older horses.

It is also important to remember that just because a horse is too old to be ridden, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need exercise still. It is very important to continue to give older horses exercise, it might just be at a bit of a slower pace.

Equus Magazine did a great job going into full detail about what to expect when caring for an aging horse in this article, so we recommend giving it a read it you wanted more details.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. For more information on horse health, join our newsletter to receive regular updates about our content!

Incurable Horse Virus

Incurable Horse Virus, also referred to as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (or EEE) is a deadly disease caused by an agent alphavirus called Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (or EEEV). Incurable Horse Virus is spread by a mosquito species called Culiseta melanura, which typically feed on birds and reptiles. On occasion, one of these mosquitos will infect a horse, or even more rarely, a human.

What does EEE do?

Unfortunately, the onset of EEE is almost guaranteed to be fatal in horses, with survival rates reported to as low as 5%. The virus causes the horses brain to swell severely (encephalitis), which then creates pressure between the brain and the skull, damaging the brain. Because the skull limits the direction in which a brain can swell, the brain is pressed towards the brain stem and spinal cord.

The brain stem is responsible for most vital, motor functions. This kind of pressure limits, and eventually stops, the vital functions of the animal.

Seizures that result in death will occur 48 to 72 hours after the first physical signs of symptoms.

Symptoms of EEE in Horses:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Drooping lower lip
  • Depression
  • Blindness
  • Aimlessly wandering and circling
  • Staggering
  • Uncoordinated gate
  • Pressing head into corns
  • Paralysis (sometimes, but not always)
  • Seizures
  • Recumbency
  • Erratic behavior
  • Fever higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit

EEE in Humans

Luckily for humans, the species of mosquito that carries EEEV tend to prefer the taste of birds, and therefore seldomly bite humans. Among those humans bitten, the large majority may experience flu-like symptoms, and only 5% are likely to develop the associated encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

The prognosis for those who experience encephalitis is poor: one third of these patients dies, and the majority of survivors experience ongoing neurological problems.

Children infected with EEEV are more likely to recover from the neurological problems than adults. Immunocompromised populations, such as young children and the elderly, are more likely to experience death after infection.

Preventing EEEV

There is no EEEV vaccine for humans, but there is one for horses! Veterinarians recommend vaccinating your horse against EEEV. The first vaccination requires a series of two shots, and annual booster shots are required to ensure effectiveness.

You can also make a habit of washing out your horse’s trough regularly, and eliminate other potential breeding ground resources such as standing water (rain gutters, buckets around the barn, old tires sitting around, etc).

For humans, the best prevention method is to avoid infection by avoiding mosquito bites, either by using insect repellant or protective clothing while outside during mosquito season, especially during dawn/dusk, when mosquitos are most active.

How Rare Is it?

On the bright side, this disease is exceedingly rare. To put things into perspective, 2019 had the largest EEE outbreak in half a century, in which the CDC only reported 38 cases. During an average year, the CDC typically reports 4-5 human cases, and 18 veterinary cases, which are mostly horses.

Here at BRD, we hope to help keep you informed and your horses healthy! For additional, helpful information about horse care, join our newsletter.

Williams, C. and Fonseca, D. M. (October, 2020). Questions Regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Horses. Rutgers: New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Horses Publications. Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet FS737. https://njaes.rutgers.edu/FS737/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (December 14, 2021). Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus: Statistics & Maps. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/statistics-maps/index.html

Minnesota Department of Health. (March, 2018). Eastern Equine Encephalitis Fact Sheet. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/eeencephalitis/eee.html

Mckay, R. (n.d.) Eastern Equine Encephalitis. University of Florida Health: Large Animal Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine. https://largeanimal.vethospitals.ufl.edu/eastern-equine-encephalitis/

Brennan-Krohn, T. (Oct. 7, 2019). Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV): the Role of Diagnostics. American Society for Microbiology. https://asm.org/Articles/2019/October/Eastern-Equine-Encephalitis-Virus-EEEV-the-Role-of

Emergency kit must-haves: Flunixin

Emergency kit must-haves: Flunixin

This is the first part of a new topic/series that we at BRD wanted to share with our readers:  emergency kit must-haves. We understand that part of the huge problem with emergencies is that they’re unpredictable, and we therefore wanted to start sharing information on how to build a kit that helps you be prepared for anything.

This month, we will be covering flunixin.

Flunixin, sometimes branded as “Banamine” or “Prevail” is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is often sold in injectable or oral paste solutions. NSAIDs work to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. Flunixin can be used on horses, cattle, pigs, and other animals. Flunixin has a similar relationship with horses and ibuprofen does with humans.

Flunixin treats pain because it is an NSAID, and is therefore great to have around when your horse has any sort of emergency or pain, from colic to general minor injuries. Other NSAIDs that are safe for horses include phenylbutazone, and firocoxib.

Flunixin can help reduce a fever. A normal body temperature for a horse is between 98.5- and 100-degrees Fahrenheit. Because flunixin reduces a fever, it is important to take the temperature of your horse before giving them the medicine, to get an accurate analysis of the horse’s overall wellbeing.

Flunixin Application Dos:

  • Give it to your horse in a paste or liquid form
  • If you have the injectable solution, it is still safest and best practice to administer the drug orally
    • In rare cases, a veterinarian may administer an injection or through an IV. However, because of the risks of a potentially lethal condition called Clostridial myositis, it is best to avoid injecting it altogether. Leave injecting this drug up to the discretion of your veterinarian.
  • Flunixin can be administered at 0.5mg per pound, or 125mg of for flunixin for each 250 lbs.  

Flunixin Application Don’ts:

  • Inject directly into the muscle of your horse
  • Administer more than once every 12 hours
  • Use on pregnant horses – the effect of flunixin on pregnancy has not yet been determined
  • Use on horses intended for human consumption (we assume this probably doesn’t apply to our readers, but it is an important cautionary note)

General Cautionary Notes:

  • Flunixin last 12 hours and should not be given more frequently than that. It may take up to 30 minutes for your horse to start feeling the benefits of Flunixin
  • Flunixin does not cause sedation – however, if a horse is in pain and given flunixin, it may calm down simply because the pain is mitigated. If your horse loses consciousness, it may be time to call your vet
  • Like any NSAID, Flunixin can cause kidney and GI problems if given too frequently
  • Flunixin can be safely administered to foals, but it is advised to use particular caution and be extra conscientious of proper dosage
  • While flunixin is regularly used to treat the pain associated with colic, please be aware that it does not actually treat the colic itself

When used properly, flunixin can provide quick relief for horses that may be injured, in pain from colic, or other conditions. Because of this, it is great to have on hand when things go wrong.

For more information on emergency kit must-haves, horse news, or horse health information, subscribe to our newsletter!

Veterinarians in Worcester, MA.  (April 3, 2020). “Five Things To Know About Flunixin (Banamine).” EquidDoc Veterinary Services. https://www.equiddocvet.com/five-things-to-know-about-flunixin-banamine/

DeLoache, P. (February 13, 2019) “10 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know about Banamine.” Southern Equine Service. https://www.southernequineservice.com/doctors-say/2019/2/13/10-things-your-vet-wants-you-to-know-about-banamine

Teixera, R. (n.d). “Risks of giving intramuscular banamine to horses.” University of Minnesota Extension. https://extension.umn.edu/horse-health/risks-giving-intramuscular-banamine-horses#:~:text=Banamine%20is%20a%20nonsteroidal%20anti,on%20hand%20to%20relieve%20pain.

Headshaking in horses

Headshaking in horses

Some may say that this is your horse’s way of saying ‘neigh’ to whatever it is that you’re asking them, but truth is, head shaking can be an indicator of many things. This behavior can be sometimes done out of boredom, or to deter flies, but sometimes it can be an indicator of a medical problem. If you notice your horse is shaking his/her head more often than normal, without an obvious presence of a flying, buzzing pest, it may be time to call your vet.  

Headshaking Indicators

If your horse is chronically shaking their head, your vet will probably look for signs of the following conditions:

  • Sinus infections
  • Dental conditions – such as broken teeth, or dental diseases
  • Ear infections, ticks, or foreign bodies
  • Tumors in the head, ears, neck or nose
  • Abnormalities in the neck, throat or guttural pouch
  • Signs of foreign bodies stuck in the ear, mouth, or nasal cavities

If your horse is shaking their head mostly up and down, and in sudden, jerking motions that make it difficult to ride, he/she may be experiencing a more serious condition.

Shaking Conditions

In 1995 a condition called Photic Headshaking was identified. Affected horses are believed to experience a burning or tingling sensation in their nostrils when they see sunlight- similar to how looking towards a light might help induce sneezing. However, with this condition, there is no sneeze or relief that comes with a sneeze.

Similarly, horses can also have the same sensation triggered by specific feeds (called gustatory head shaking), or have the sensation with no specific triggers. Some believe that the sensation they experience is better described as a neuropathic pain, which is caused by a sensitive nerve firing rapidly.

Some of the major downsides of treating head shaking conditions are that the drugs used reduce shaking and control nerve pain vary in their success, and often tend to have short term results. Many of these drugs are not allowed for horses who compete in show and on the racetrack. Typically, oral antihistamines are used and they have a 60% success rate, at the cost of making the horse somewhat drowsy.

For horses with Photic Headshaking, some will use a net or a mask with ultraviolet light protection. These go over the muzzle, or the eyes to block light, and prevent the trigger of the pain. Treatment plans that have the highest levels of success usually include a combination of reducing sunlight exposure by using muzzles/mask, creating shelters for horses so they can have a place to go and avoid the light, and the aforementioned medications.

Additional treatments include making sure your horse’s diet is high in magnesium, which helps regulate the horse’s pH level and therefore also reduce excessive nerve firing. Alfalfa is a great resource of natural magnesium, and horses tend to love it. If your horse doesn’t like alfalfa, over the counter supplements are also effective.

A study completed at UC Davis found that magnesium supplements reduced headshaking significantly in horses that were previously shaking to aggressively to be safely ridden. The horses studied in their research now have stopped shaking completely. However, experts caution to monitor magnesium levels when giving these supplements, to prevent overdosing.

Beckstett, A. (January 4, 2019) “Headshaking in Horses: A Sensitive Matter.” The Horse. https://thehorse.com/139413/headshaking-in-horses-a-sensitive-matter/

Anonymous. (October 25, 2021). “Equine Internal Medicine: Headshaking.” Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center. https://www.ksvhc.org/services/equine/internal-medicine/headshaking.html#:~:text=Horses%20with%20photic%20headshaking%20are,into%20sunlight%20triggers%20sneezing%20episodes.

The Basics of Breeding

The Basics of Breeding

At the ripe age of three, a horse can be bred. While some say two, the recommended age is generally three.

Horse Selection:

When it comes to breeding, this is usually the first step in the process. Finding the superior match for your stallion or mare is not simple task. It requires a heavy analysis of the horse in question, and comparisons to other horses that you may want to breed your horse with. Sometimes owners will choose to breed their horse to receive a specific trait or phenotype. In cases such as this, they will try to combine stronger genetics of a stallion with a mare the presents more recessive traits. It is believed by some that getting stallions genetics may play a larger role than the genetics from a mare. Regardless, when people look at a horse to partner with, they look for the following traits:

  • A horses genealogy to analyze the agility, breeding and physical characteristics of the horse’s ancestors.
  • The breeding quality of the horse (example: have they damed/sired before? Were the foals healthy?)
  • The likelihood of inheriting certain desired traits
  • Anatomy of the horse
  • Performance – especially if you are breeding for a specific discipline
  • Age
  • Coat Color
  • Etc

Now it is paramount to acknowledge that how these are considered vary greatly depending on the purpose of the breeder. In situations where an owner is trying to get a specific quality, or strengthen the lineage of a horse, they will explore the genetics behind the process to try and guarantee their desired outcome.

 

Different Types of Breeding:

The most common method of breeding is for purebred horses, and this is usually done with expensive, high value breeds to preserve the traits that make that breed unique.

Another common type is crossbreeding and is often used when you want to try to get certain characteristics of a pure-bred horse into a different one. Horses of this genre tend to be athletic, and hardworking.

Breeding can be accomplished in the herd, where a herd of mares and one stallion are left to take care of the next step. As one can imagine, using this method, it may take a while for a specific mare to become pregnant, but stallions typically know what to do.

Alternatively, horses can be bred in a pasture, where mares are pushed into a paddock and the stallions are sent to them. This method may be selected if it is believed that the stallion could be injured by joining the herd, or if they are too old to keep up with the mares.

In recent years, artificial insemination has gained popularity among breeders because it tends to create a higher yield of sperm to work with and can therefore be used to impregnate multiple mares. It is also a quicker, and much more controlled process, which can eliminate several risks such as the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. It also allows breeders to inseminate a horse that may be very far in distance from the stallion.

 

We hope you enjoyed this blog post! For more information on horse health, subscribe to our newsletter.

 

Barb. (July 8, 2019). “Everything you wanted to know about horse breeding.” Horse Properties. Retrieved from https://www.horseproperties.net/blog/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-horse-breeding/

Chris. (Copywrite 2022). “Horse Breeding Information.” Five Star Rach. Retrieved from https://www.fivestarranch.com/horse-care/horse-health/breeding/

Extension Horses. (January, 31, 2020). “Horse Breeding Basics.” Extension Horses. Retrieved from https://horses.extension.org/horse-breeding-basics/