Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Managing Laminitis-Prone Horses - Full Article

by: Pat Harris, MA, VetMB, PhD, Dipl. ECVCN, MRCVS
June 27 2011, Article # 18447

There are countless "how-to's" regarding managing a horse diagnosed with laminitis, and many horse owners are familiar with these procedures. But how should you manage a horse that has not developed the debilitating disease, but is a likely candidate? Based on existing knowledge and scientific reports, the following tips could help reduce the likelihood of at-risk horses developing laminitis.


* Base the horse's diet on forage and fiber.
* Aim to feed forage with less than a 10% nonstructural carbohydrate (i.e., starch, sugar, and fructan) content. If your hay has a higher carbohydrate content than 10%, soaking hay in fresh clean water for at least three hours (possibly overnight) might help to reduce the water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) content. However, as the results from soaking are variable, try to ensure the original forage has a low NSC content or feed an appropriate forage replacer...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

EHV-1 Outbreak: USDA Releases Final Situation Report - Full Article

by: Erica Larson, News Editor
June 24 2011, Article # 18439

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service released its final situation report on the equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) outbreak that affected the western United States and Canada starting in mid-May. The outbreak is believed to have stemmed from horses attending a national championship cutting competition held in Utah in early May. In its most recent report the USDA indicated that disease spread had been contained.

Although it's not transmissible to humans, EHV-1 is highly contagious among horses and camelids, and it is generally passed from horse to horse via aerosol transmission (when affected animals sneeze/cough) and contact with nasal secretions. The disease can cause a variety of ailments in equines, including rhinopneumonitis (a respiratory disease usually found in young horses), abortion in broodmares, and myeloencephalopathy (EHM, the neurologic form). Myeloencephalopathy is characterized by fever, ataxia (incoordination), weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs, and incontinence.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture issued a press release June 20 indicating that animal health officials believe the outbreak has been successfully contained in that state. The release indicated that California has not diagnosed a new case of EHV-1 in the past 14 days...

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Magnesium Supplementation: Is It Necessary? - Full Article

by: Marie Rosenthal, MS
June 26 2011, Article # 18442

In an equine society dominated by supplements for everything imaginable--from joint health and calmers to antioxidants and vitamins and minerals--some horse owners likely wonder what, if any, feed additives they should provide their horses. Take magnesium for example: Science has shown us that horses require this macromineral to keep their bodies functioning properly, so should owners provide a supplement to ensure their animals get enough in their diet? According to an Auburn University researcher, hold off on buying that magnesium supplement, as it likely isn't needed by your horse.

Magnesium is an essential macromineral for horses that aids in maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, as well as the production of protein and DNA. Previous research from Cornell University indicates that horses need to consume just under 5 mg of the mineral to carry out normal body functions.

According to Allison J. Stewart, BVSc(hons), MS, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVECC, associate professor of equine internal medicine at Auburn, who recently composed a literature review on magnesium deficiencies in horses, "As there is generally a large amount of magnesium in vegetative matter (i.e., grass, hays, and grains), deficiency is rare in horses..."

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lucerne Hay in Equine Diets - Full Article

By Dr. Peter Huntington · April 15, 2011

There are some differences between lucerne (alfalfa) and grass hay or oat chaff, but they all serve the same purpose of being vital fibre sources for horses. If you are fortunate enough to have a choice of forages, the decision of which type to feed should be based on what you are trying to achieve with the horse.

The major differences between a grass type forage (including oat and wheat chaff) and a legume (lucerne and clover) are energy, protein, and calcium content.

Energy content

The fibre found in forages is digested by the microbial population of the hindgut to produce energy for the horse. There are forms of digestible fibre and indigestible fibre found in any plant. The higher the percentage digestible fibre and the lower the indigestible fibre, the more energy there is in that forage. There tends to be more digestible fibre in the leafy portion of the plant and more indigestible fibre in the stem. So, forage with more leaf and less stem will provide the horse more digestible energy.

Lucerne that is harvested at the right time and handled carefully after harvesting will have a lot of very digestible leaves with some stem, and thus it is very high in energy. A poorly made lucerne will have more stems than leaves and will have less energy. The same goes for the harvesting of grass hay; the earlier in its growth it is harvested, the more leaf it will have and the better quality it will be...

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Riding: When the Rider is Hot, the Horse is Hotter - Full Article

by: University of Guelph
July 08 2010, Article # 16625

A hot humid day. One rider. One horse. Both are exercising at a moderate level. Who is more likely to overheat?

It might surprise you to know that your horse gets hotter, much faster than you and is more susceptible to the negative effects of heat stress.

Michael Lindinger, PhD, MSc, an animal and exercise physiologist at the University of Guelph, explains: "It only takes 17 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in hot, humid weather to raise a horse's temperature to dangerous levels. That's three to 10 times faster than in humans. Horses feel the heat much worse than we do."

And the effects can be serious. If a horse's body temperature shoots up from the normal 37 to 38°C to 41°C (98.6 - 105.8°F), temperatures within working muscles may be as high as 43°C (109.4°F), a temperature at which proteins in muscle begin to denature (cook). Horses suffering excessive heat stress may experience hypotension, colic, and renal failure.

Lindinger, a faculty member in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, became interested in the effects of heat on horses when he was a lead researcher on the Canadian research team that contributed information on the response of the horse to heat and humidity for the Atlanta Summer Olympics. He recently presented a workshop on the topic at Equine Guelph's outdoor Equine Expo held June 4 at U.G.'s Arkell Research Station.

Horses are more susceptible to heat for several reasons...

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Blister Beetles: Deadly in Horse Hay - Full Article

by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
June 02 2011, Article # 18335

Purchasing hay is a ritual that many horse owners have down to a science: Select a type (i.e., grass, alfalfa, or timothy), grab a handful for a smell test, examine for dust and mold, and feed to the hungry horses waiting at home. As many hay producers will be harvesting hay in the coming weeks and months and passing the fruits of their labor on to consumers, it's important for horse owners to be aware of a tiny, toxic (and potentially fatal) tagalong in some perfectly healthy-looking alfalfa hay bales: the blister beetle.

Blister beetles naturally contain and secrete a chemical substance called cantharidin, which is extremely toxic to horses. The insects--which can be found in most parts of the United States, are ½-1 inch long, often cylindrical in shape, and can be a variety of colors--feed on alfalfa flowers and can easily, although inadvertently, be included in the hay during the baling process. Once baled in the hay, the beetles will generally appear dried up and might be crushed or broken into parts (due to the bailing equipment).

"Blister beetles tend to swarm to feed on alfalfa flowers," explained Sam L. Jones, DVM, PhD, professor of equine medicine at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "If large enough numbers of the beetles are incorporated into baled hay, horses can ingest the beetles."

Simply touching a blister beetle--either dead or alive--is enough to cause inflammation and blistering of a horse's skin within hours of contact...

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Managing Wet Feet - Full Article

by: Marcella M. Reca Zipp, MS
May 01 2005, Article # 5695

Hoof care is one of the most important aspects of quality horse management. Hoof trimming, shoeing if necessary, good nutrition to ensure good hoof growth, and inspection for disease or injury to the foot are just a few of the tasks a horse owner needs to worry about. Yet no matter how much attention is paid to these steps, if your horse's feet are constantly wet, this can create a disastrous situation for proper hoof health.

A Product of His Environment

Water is nature's hoof moisturizer, but moderation is key. Too much moisture can lead to deformed hooves because as the hoof becomes softer, it loses its structural integrity. Prolonged and excessive environmental moisture leads to dangerously high hoof moisture levels.

To better understand hooves getting saturated, Stephen O'Grady, DVM, MRCVS, owner of the Northern Virginia Equine practice in Marshall, Va., gives the analogy of water's effects on a board: "If you pour water over a board, the water will run off the board. But if you tie a rock to the board and submerge it in a water trough, the board will become saturated, become soft, and eventually fall apart.

"The horse is a product of his environment, and if he lives in a dry area, he's going to have dry feet. But if he lives in a moist area, he's going to have softer feet," he adds. "A horse from Florida does not have the same cup in the bottom of the foot as a horse in the North." This is due to softer hoof walls from excessive humidity coupled with the sandy soil (the primary type of footing); this combination causes the sole of the foot to flatten...

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