Emergency Planning

The old adage states that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that is especially true in emergency situations, and even more so with horses. Emergencies at an equine facility can range from a horse with a wound, illness, or colic to a barn fire to natural disasters and beyond. Preparation can reduce the impact of these events and increase the chances of a happy outcome.

First, have your veterinarian’s contact information posted at your barn. Having the number (including after-hours contacts) accessible for all gets the vet on their way faster.  Next, make sure that there is a plan to transport horses off of the property if needed.  If you don’t have a trailer, identify a friend or neighbor who could haul a horse, and have a conversation about this ahead of time. Their number should be listed next to the veterinarian’s number. Anticipate where horses might go for advanced care and know in advance the best route there. Next, have stocked first aid kits in the barn and trailer. This should include a stethoscope and thermometer. Make sure you can hear the heart beat and take the temperature of horses in the barn. Having information on heart rate and temperature is useful if you need to call a veterinarian with an emergency.

Last, have a plan for what to do if….. and that’s where that big list of possible things going wrong comes in. Planning ahead for possible health problems, bad weather, etc. makes it easier to stay calm and manage a situation should it arise.

AAEP’s 10 Tips For Caring For The Older Horse

10 Tips for Caring for the Older Horse

 

Advances in nutrition, management and health care are helping, horses are living longer, more useful lives. It’s not uncommon to find horses and ponies living well into their 20s and 30s. While genetics play a role in determining life span, you too, can have an impact.

You may think that turning your old-timer out to pasture is the kindest form of retirement. But horses are individuals. Some enjoy being idle; others prefer to be a part of the action. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the horse. Proper nutrition, care and exercise will help the animal thrive.

 

Follow these guidelines to develop a total management plan for your older horse:

 

  1. Observe your horse on a regular basis. Watch for changes in body condition, behavior and attitude. Address problems, even seemingly minor ones, right away.
  2. Feed a high-quality diet. Avoid dusty and moldy feeds.
  3. Feed your older horse away from younger, more aggressive ones so it won’t have to compete for feed.
  4. Feed at more frequent intervals so as not to upset the digestive system. Two to three times daily is best.
  5. Provide plenty of fresh, clean, tepid water. Excessively cold water reduces consumption, which can lead to colic and other problems.
  6. Adjust and balance rations to maintain proper body conditions. A good rule of thumb is to be able to feel the ribs but not see them.
  7. Provide adequate, appropriate exercise to maintain muscle tone, flexibility and mobility.
  8. Groom your horse frequently to promote circulation and skin health.
  9. Be aware that older horses are prone to tumors. Look for any unusual lumps or growths from head to tail as well as beneath the tail (especially on gray horses).
  10. Schedule routine checkups with your equine veterinarian. Call immediately if you suspect a problem.

 

A quick response to ailments, injuries or a decline in fitness can keep your older horse from having a serious or prolonged setback. That means less worry for you and a better quality of life for your old friend.

 

Visit the AAEP website, www.aaep.org, for additional information about caring for the older horse.

 

Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners

Working (Barn) Cats Available For Adoption

Gina Lynch, Outreach Coordinator for the Humane Society of Fairfax County, is developing a relocation program (click here for details) for outdoor cats with farms, businesses, or private residents in Virginia.

Attached is a flyer about Helping Homeless Felines (HHF). HHF is a partner organization to the Humane Society and is in desperate need of new homes for two colonies of feral (some friendly) cats due to the sudden death of their caretakers. The cats must be relocated immediately as the caretakers’ properties have been placed on the market.
All the cats have been spayed/neutered, treated for parasites, and updated on their vaccinations.
 
Please call (703-402-3460) if you are interested in adopting at no-cost one of our adult cats.

What Your Vet Team Wants You To Know Before Euthanizing Your Horse

Recently, an excellent article was published by Dr. Andy Roark; “5 Things this Tech Wishes You Knew Before Euthanizing” that provides helpful information about how a pet owner can ease the experience for themselves and their pets when the dreaded day comes to say goodbye. I highly recommend checking out the article. Working on horses is a bit different, so here are some things that might be helpful to keep in mind about horse euthanasia:

1. It is OK to cry. This is the first point of Dr. Roark’s article, too, and it is just as important with horses. As horse folks, our relationships with our horses have added dimensions to our relationships with our pets. Horses are often companions, yes, but also teachers, caregivers, therapists, and teammates. There is something magical about an animal that is 10 times our size and lets us be in charge. Your veterinarian and veterinary technician love horses, too; please know that if your veterinarian isn’t also in tears, it is not from lack of caring, but from self-protection. We need to focus on our aid to the animal in relieving suffering and being strong for you.

2. We take the term “euthanasia” seriously. The word “euthanasia” is from the Greek, and literally translates to “the good death.” We are privileged in veterinary medicine to have the ability to end suffering, and have a responsibility to do so in a way that is painless and minimizes stress. There are many different approaches, the most common being inducing general anesthesia and either overdosing the anesthetic drug or giving another drug to stop the heart. Some horses will take some breaths and move a bit when anesthetized, but the horse is under general anesthesia and completely unaware of what is happening. Another method, also humane when practiced by someone who is proficient at this method, is a projectile to the brain.

3. If possible, plan ahead. Sometimes we are faced with making emergency decisions, but the more prepared we can be, the better. The medication used for the overdose of anesthesia remains in the horse’s body and is a risk to any animal that consumes it. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has more information about this on their website and laws to protect animals from being poisoned. Having a burial or disposal plan in advance can be very helpful to minimize risk to wildlife and other animals. Having a heavy large tarp and weights for emergency use can prevent contact with the body and intoxication of other animals. Once you have your disposal or burial plan lined out, focus on planning the best day for your horse and you together.  We don’t always have the luxury of choosing when to let our friends go.  Sometimes they go on their own, and sometimes they endure an untreatable injury or circumstance that warrants prompt euthanasia.  However, if you are able to, pick a nice day, when the sun is shining and the barn is quiet.  Don’t rush, make sure you will be able to spend some “one-on-one” time with your horse that day, doing all of your normal things.   You will not regret it, we promise.

4. It can be dangerous. As much as we, your veterinary team, wish this could be the most gentle moment of your horse’s life, it is typically a fairly abrupt “fall” to the ground. Some horses lie down peacefully, but some have a brief excitement response to the medication, and may fall down stiffly or even try to rear over.  Please try to keep this in mind, as it can be startling, and differs very much from having your dog or cat put to sleep.  Lying down, as you know, is not a very natural behavior for a horse, especially out in the open and in the presence of people.  It is a natural and comforting behavior for your dog or cat to lie in your lap, and so when your pet is euthanized, it is common for them to be sleeping in your lap and pass peacefully.  However, the final moments of your horse’s life can be just as comforting for both of you if you do your normal routine and show them affection and love right up until they are euthanized.  Stand with them, let them have some grass or their favorite treats. Let them be in a familiar area, as long as it is safe and other horses are not present.  Rub their head (or their favorite spot that only you know) and talk to them just like you always do.  Be their friend through it all, and when you are ready, step back and let your veterinarian do what you cannot.  The last thing your horse will remember is you and their life which was so good.  Take comfort in knowing that the reason your horse falls so abruptly is because the drugs we administer to euthanize a horse IMMEDIATELY affect the brain, removing your horse’s awareness and also removing their ability to “right” themselves (or stand).  This also means, however, that your horse is not aware of any discomfort or pain as life leaves their body.  We, as veterinarians, choose to perform euthanasia this way, purely because we do not in any way want to prolong the process or allow your horse to feel any anxiety or discomfort.

5. Don’t feel bad about not being there. If you don’t feel like you can be present, that is ok; it can be a hard thing to watch and an upsetting last memory. Remember to take care of yourself and give yourself permission to grieve in your own way.  After your horse has passed, share your memories with us.  Tell us your favorite story.  We love horses, and putting horses to sleep is hard for us, too. Sharing in the memories of a horse’s life well lived and well loved can bring a smile to the heaviest of hearts.

Thank you to Blue Ridge Equine Clinic’s Malorie Kemmerer, LVT for her valuable contributions to this article.

 

Blue Ridge Equine Clinic Is Going Solar

We are excited to announce that Blue Ridge Equine Clinic has partnered up with Sigora Solar to install solar (photovoltaic) panels at the clinic in Earlysville. The system is scheduled to be installed starting December 13th and should be finished by December 15th. This just happens to coincide with our holiday open house on December 13th (10am – 6pm) and we encourage you to visit and learn more about the clinic and how solar power works. Sigora Solar will have people available to answer any questions you might have for them.

The system being installed at Blue Ridge will have the capacity to generate roughly 29 kw or about 1/3 of the clinics electrical needs annually. Over the next 25 years that is enough power to equal 43 dump truck loads of coal and offset 1,240,245 lbs. of CO2 emissions. We are proud to be doing something to decrease our consumption and thankful for the money that will be saved over the life of the system.

 

Saddle Fitting

Valley Division team members Dr. Tabby Moore, Dr. Julia Hecking, Dr. Tracy Norman, and April Shultz teamed up with Robin Moore of World Equestrian Brands this week to discuss saddle fit and how it is affected by various horses’ conformations. Great to share expertise on a topic that influences your horse’s performance and comfort so significantly!

We are happy to work with you to achieve the best fit for your horse. Let us know if we can help.

Dr. LaPlume’s Fall Newsletter

 

  • Pasture management: Now is the time to have your soil tested and possibly apply the appropriate products, such as lime.
  • Fall preventative Health Care: It’s time for Fall Vaccinations and Dentistry
  • Body condition/weight gain: If your horse is on the thin side, please call to discuss. Do not wait until winter to try to put weight on your horse.
  • Parasite management: Clean up your pasture and horses now before winter. Now is an excellent time to drag and rest your pasture while using the appropriate new deworming schedule. OCTOBER is the time to perform fecal egg counts to monitor your deworming program.
  • Hay: If you have not been feeding hay, now is the time to start, before it gets cold and the grass dies off. You should at least be investigating a hay source for winter!
  • This continues to be Potomac Horse Fever season-turn off your outdoor lights at night!
  • TICKS! Don’t forget your tick control. They are back in full force.

FALL DENTAL REMINDER:

Make sure your horse has been floated this year. Floating is important for the health and comfort of your horse.

SECURE YOUR FEED!

A metal Trash Can and Lid does keep feed safe from mice and rats. Trash Cans do not keep feed secure from horses! Horses tip them over and get access to the entire can of feed. The best place for feed is behind a closed and locked stall or regular door.

NEW WOUNDS

How to treat a NEW wound is a common question among horse owners. One of the most import issues is not to damage the tissue any further. Many old remedies have been found to be harmful.

If a wound if bleeding profusely, is over a joint or tendon sheath, the horse is very lame, or the wound is very large and deep, please call before you do any treatment besides a pressure wrap for bleeding.

If you find a simple new wound, first use fresh cold water (from a hose is ok), and wash the wound. Clipping the hair around the wound at this point can be helpful.

Then use very clean or sterile material, such as a clean wash cloth or gauze squares, and a small amount of soap, such as ivory, Betadine scrub or Chlorohexadine scrub to gently clean the wound. Rinse ALL the soap out of the wound.

Pat dry the wound with different clean or sterile material. Follow drying with either nothing, silvadeen/thermazine or triple antibiotic on the wound. If on a leg, wrap appropriately.

Agents to AVOID with fresh wounds include hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, iodine, betadine solution, furacin, icthamol, bag balm, DMSO, caustic powder, gentian violet, scarlet oil, and hydrocortisone. Please do not infuse any medication deep into a wound without veterinary instruction.

Please call to discuss any wound. In general, if the wound is less than 6 hours old, is on the head or below the knee or hock and the skin gapes, the wound should be closed with suturing. How to proceed with subsequent wound care will depend on size, depth, location and age.

Finally, do not forget to check the tetanus status of your horse!

10 Tips for Preventing Colic

Colic is a killer of horses. 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.

While horses seem predisposed to colic due to the anatomy and function of their digestive tracts, management can play a key role in prevention. Although not every case is avoidable, can maximize the horse’s health and reduce the risk of colic:

  1. Establish a daily routine – include feeding and exercise schedules – and stick to it.
  2. Feed a high quality diet comprised primarily of roughage.
  3. Avoid feeding excessive grain and energy-dense supplements. (At least half the horse’s

energy should be supplied through hay or forage. A better guide is that twice as much energy should be supplied from a roughage source than from concentrates.)

  1. Divide daily concentrate rations into two or more smaller feedings rather than one large one to avoid overloading the horse’s digestive tract. Hay is best fed free-choice.
  2. Set up a regular parasite control program with the help of Dr. LaPlume.
  3. Provide exercise and/or turnout on a daily basis. Change the intensity and duration of an exercise regimen gradually.
  4. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. (The only exception is when the horse is excessively hot, and then it should be given small sips of luke-warm water until it has recovered.)
  5. Avoid putting feed on the ground, especially in sandy soils. Use mats if you have to feed on sand or blue stone, even for hay.
  6. Check hay, bedding, pasture, and environment for potentially toxic substances, such as blister beetles, noxious weeds, and other ingestible foreign matter.
  7. Reduce stress. Horses experiencing changes in environment or workloads are at high risk of intestinal dysfunction. Pay special attention to horses when transporting them or changing their surroundings, such as at shows. Discuss gastric ulcer preventative therapy with your vet.

Virtually any horse is susceptible to colic. Age, sex, and breed differences in susceptibility seem to be relatively minor. The type of colic seen appears to relate to geographic or regional differences, probably due to environmental factors such as sandy soil or climatic stress. Importantly, what this tells us is that, with conscientious care and management, we have the potential to reduce and control colic, a killer of horses.

Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Rabies

September 28th is the World Rabies Awareness Day.

In VIRGINIA, 2014, (2015 statistics are not available yet) 236 raccoons,162 skunks, 45 foxes, 28 cats, 23 Bats, 12 cows, 1 dog, 0 horses, 1 Bob cat, 1 goat, 5 groundhogs, 1 coyote, 1 Otter were tested positive.

Rabies is a zoonotic (can be passed from animals to humans) disease. The vaccination available to our domestic animals is very effective. Rabies is almost always fatal.

Most horses have the “dumb” or “paralytic” form of rabies, and diagnosis is often delayed, causing many people to be exposed.

Please make sure ALL your animals are up to date on their rabies vaccinations!

 

CHOKE, Pellets and Beet Pulp

To Avoid “CHOKE” -Please feed all pellets and Beet Pulp WET! What feeds are pellets you may ask? They include:

Any senior type feed (Purina, Blue Seal, etc)

Alfalfa pellets

Beet pulp pellets

Rice bran pellets

Any nugget like feed (Blue Seal common)

Some Textured feed will have a large pellet component, and very greedy eaters can choke on it!

 

Equine Asthma AKA HEAVES study at BREC:

If your horse is over age four and has been diagnosed with Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO) or Summer Pasture Associated Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (SPAOPD), your horse may be eligible to participate in this FDA-regulated clinical study of an investigational medication that will help bring much-needed quality research to the equine community.

Afflicted horses are now being recruited for this study to carefully evaluate an investigational drug with the potential to treat RAO and SPAOPD. Our hope is that the research will result in an approved treatment – because today there are far too few FDA-approved drugs for horses afflicted with these diseases.

Please call our practice if you own or know a horse with one of these debilitating diseases. Visit EquineStudy.com to see if your horse may qualify.

 

 

Wild Horse & Burro Update From AAEP

 

In the last 24 hours, you may have read about a recommendation from the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding the potential sale or euthanasia of thousands of wild horses and burros. This recommendation has received national attention.

While most AAEP members are not directly involved in the care and management of wild horses, you may receive questions from your clients or have questions yourself about the issue. We want you to be informed.

Summary of Issue:
On Sept. 9, the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recommended that the BLM euthanize or sell “without limitation” excess “unadoptable” horses and burros in the BLM’s off-range corrals and pastures.

The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board is an independent panel comprised of members of the public that makes recommendations to the Bureau of Land Management regarding its management of wild horses and burros.

The BLM has not yet taken a position on the advisory board’s recommendation and said it would respond at the board’s spring meeting in 2017.

Currently, there are more than 67,000 wild horses and burros on public rangelands, and the BLM is caring for nearly 50,000 animals in off-range corrals and pastures.

The BLM spent $49 million caring for off-range animals during its fiscal year 2015, which accounted for two-thirds of its wild horse and burro budget.

Related Items:

BLM Wild Horse and Burro Quick Facts

Wild horses should be killed or sold, government board decides

BLM drops plan to surgically sterilize horses

AAEP BLM Task Force Report on the Wild Horse and Burro Program (2011)

The AAEP’s Welfare and Public Policy Advisory Council will be evaluating the advisory board’s recommendation as well. If you have questions or comments about wild horse issues, please contact one of the AAEP’s staff liaisons to the WPPAC – Keith Kleine or Sally Baker.

We hope this information will be helpful with any conversations you may have about this population of horses.

Sincerely,
Kathleen Anderson, DVM
2016 AAEP President

Does Your Horse Have Heaves?

Blue Ridge Equine Clinic is participating with Boehringer-Ingelheim in a clinical trial of an investigational medication for horses with heaves. To learn more, follow this link: www.equinestudy.com

Please let us know if you have any questions or think your horse may be a candidate.

Client Thanks BREC Team

Pam bought her horse, Swan’s Honor, at Elysian Hills in Marshall, Virginia, as a four year old. The pair learned, competed and foxhunted together and Pam believed he was her horse of a lifetime. When Honor became acutely ill, of course Pam was terribly worried. Last week, we received this lovely note from her:

“One year ago, Dr. Trostle did colic surgery on Honor.  His recovery wasn’t completely smooth as he relapsed back into reflux mode after we thought he was in the clear.   Dr. Trostle thought there was a good chance Honor would recover completely and I’m very happy to report he has!!   This pic is Honor and I competing at the ODH hunter pace this last weekend.  Thanks so much for your wonderful care.”

Pam DiCioccio

Stories like these are why we do what we do at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic. We appreciate Pam updating us, and wish she and Honor many happy years together.