Day: 25 May 2017

Equine Metabolic Syndrome – Feeding

What should I feed my horse with Equine Metabolic Syndrome

The goals of treatment are:

  • Induce weight loss in obese horses
  • Improve insulin sensitivity through weight loss, diet and exercise
  • Avoid dietary triggers for laminitis

Help your horse lose weight

Main methods of weight loss are:

  1. Calorie control/ reduction
  2. Reduce dietary glucose
  3. Increase exercise if possible

A weight loss of 500-700g a day and a loss of 1-2 Body Condition Score points over 12 weeks can be expected with a reasonable weight loss program.

Firstly, eliminate or greatly reduce pasture access. Turning out horses during early morning, on cloudy days, shady paddocks or using a grazing muzzle can help reduce their carbohydrate intake.  However, access to pasture is risky for metabolic horses so it may be safer to remove all grazing while on a weight loss program.

Without any access to grazing, metabolic horses should be fed no less than 1.2% of their bodyweight of a moderate quality grass hay divided into multiple meals.

Soaking grass hay for 30 minutes in hot water or 60 minutes in cold water can reduce the soluble carbohydrate levels further. However it should be noted that this can also remove other nutrients from the hay which should be replaced with a supplement or small amount of low starch hard feed.

Even without soaking their hay, a mineral supplement or low starch ration balancer may still be of benefit while on a reduced feed ration to ensure all your horses’ nutritional requirements are met. Our Multi Vitamin Supplement was designed with this scenario in mind.

You should monitor their weight loss closely using Body Condition Scoring (BCS) and a weigh tape so you can adjust the diet accordingly. (See BCS post)

For metabolic horses you should aim for a final BCS between 4-5, with the more chronically laminitic horses being maintained closer to 4. Some ponies may never reach a 5 or less making 6 acceptable.

Once this target is reached the forage portion of their diet can increased to 1.5-2 percent of their bodyweight to maintain their weight and prevent any gains or further loses.

Once a metabolic horse has been stabilised they may tolerate some grazing, providing they are monitored closely for signs of EMS.

Gaining Weight

If your metabolic horse needs to gain weight, the extra calories should come from an increase in dietary fibre and fat. This can be done by increasing their hay ration or adding in a low starch hard feed.  The addition of oil (such as canola/corn oil) can be a great way to increase the calories from fat within your horses’ diet, starting with a quarter cup and slowly increasing it to around one cup a day.

If you have any questions regarding your horse and metabolic disease or any other topics please call us today.



Tying Up in Horses

Tie Up

Tie up is one of the alternative terms for a condition called exertional rhabdomyolyisis (ER). There are a number of possible causes but the most common of these is over exertion.  This causes damage to muscles, particularly in the hindlimbs and hind quarters, leading to the clinical signs of the condition.


The classic signs of ER are extreme stiffness and reluctance to move. Other signs that may be seen are sweating, hard, painful muscles over the hind quarters, increased respiration rate and dark/red urine.


A diagnosis of ER may be possible based on history and clinical signs alone. However, in many cases your vet will take a blood sample to check for any elevation in the muscle enzymes, creatine kinase (CK) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), to confirm their diagnosis. These enzymes are released by damaged muscle and the extent of their increase reflects the severity of the damage.

Follow up bloods may be taken to monitor your horse’s recovery.

It may be necessary to conduct further blood tests and take urine samples to check the health of your horse’s kidneys. This is important because the characteristic red urine that ER can cause is due to myoglobin being released from the damaged muscle cells. Myoglobin is toxic to kidneys and their function must be monitored for any sign of damage to ensure your horse receives the required treatment.

Shotter & Byers has a blood machine that allows us to conduct these tests in house to ensure we rapidly have the information we need allowing us to provide your horse with the very best care.


Treatment of ER is dependent on the fundamental cause. Although it usually involves box rest to allow the damaged muscle to recover.

Anti-inflammatories may be given to decrease inflammation and provide pain relief. It may also be warranted to give more stronger pain relief, sedation and anti-anxiety drugs to calm your horse and aid muscle relaxation.

The risk ER poses to the kidneys makes it is extremely important that your horse is well hydrated. Depending on the severity of the ER and level of dehydration this can involve passing a nasogastric tube to give water or the administration of intravenous fluids.

How to Avoid?

ER can be avoided by ensuring your horse stays fit and that they are well warmed up before strenuous exercise.  An hour of exercise a day is better than 5 hours in one day! In some cases, the risk of ER can be lowered by decreasing the amount of concentrate feed. Good quality forage is the most important part of your horse’s diet. If your horse requires extra calories, these can come from the addition of oil to the feed without predisposing for ER.



Ringworm is one of the top 10 most common skin diseases in the horse and is more common in young horses.  It is a superficial fungal infection effecting the epidermal layer of the skin.

It is highly contagious and caused by both Microsporum and Trichophyton species of fungi, some of these are specific to horses whereas others can be passed to other animals and humans.

The spore stage of the fungi is very resistant and can survive in the environment for months to years if the conditions are favourable


  • Small areas of tufted hair similar to urticaria (hives) initially
  • Circular areas of hair loss usually 1-10cm in diameter
  • Moderate reddening of the skin may be visible in white horses
  • Broken hair shafts around lesions with thick crusting
  • Minimal itching
  • Lesions may spontaneously heal and begin to grow hair from the centre outwards.
  • The mane and tail are usually spared


Diagnosis is made by a fungal culture of hairs sampled from the edges of the lesions.  Fungal culture is hard to perform as there is a high chance of contamination interrupting the culturing process.


Ringworm is a self limiting disease meaning it will eventually resolve itself without treatment. However, the contagious nature of the disease often requires it to be treated to prevent its spread.

The best treatment is usually a full body topical application of a veterinary antifungal lotion or solution (such as enilconazole or 2% lime sulfur) two times a week for at least 3-4 weeks.  Oral antifungal medicine (such as Grisofulvin) is not as effective at treating Ringworm but may be used in addition to a topical treatment.


If you have a confirmed or suspected case of Ringworm it is important to prevent transmission of the disease to other people or animals. A licensed antifungal disinfectant should be used to decontaminate the horses stall and any contaminated grooming or yard equipment.  Diluted bleach water can be used as an alternative disinfectant for equipment if a licensed product is not immediately available.

If you are worried your horse has contracted ringworm, or have questions, please call us to discuss on 01306 627 706.


PRP Therapy

PRP: Platelet Rich Plasma

Platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) can be used for the treatment of joints, bursae and soft tissue injuries.

Platelets are a component of blood that are capable of releasing many growth factors such as platelet-derived growth factor, transforming growth factor beta and vascular endothelial growth factor. These growth factors are important for regulating a huge number of cellular processes that encourage the formation of blood vessels and the proliferation of new tissue.

PRP is very quick to obtain from your horse and can be ready to inject in as little as 15-30 minutes, depending on the method used.  We take approximately 50mls of blood from your horse and centrifuge or filter it to concentrate the platelets to produce the PRP.

PRP is injected directly into the site of injury and works best where there discrete area of damage, such as a tendon core lesion. However, it has a wide array of uses including aiding the healing of joints, bursa and soft tissue injuries (such as suspensory ligament or flexor tendon strains).

PRP is able to act as a scaffold for proliferating cells which makes it a useful treatment prior to stem cell therapy.

Another great advantage to PRP is that it can be legally used in competition horses where drug testing would detect commonly used controlled substances.

For more information on PRP, please telephone your vet or call the office on 01306 627 706 to discuss.



Pinworms are a common topic for questions from our clients.  They are not harmful to your horse but their lifecycle can cause significant irritation.

Pinworms, Oxyuris equi, are small roundworms that live in your horses large intestine.  The females migrate from here to the anus where they lay their eggs on the skin surrounding it. It is these sticky eggs that irritate your horse and can cause them to rub and itch around the base of their tail and anus.  These eggs can hatch and be infective within a few days or drop off and remain dormant for months in the environment.

How do I know if my horse has pinworms

Unlike many other worms, pinworms cannot be detected using a faecal egg count.

  • Your horse may be itchy around their tail base and anus
  • Eggs are sometimes visible around the anus as a yellow, sticky mass.
  • Your vet can perform and adhesive tape test and identify the pinworm eggs with a microscope.

How do I treat for pinworms?

Pinworms are sensitive to the same drugs that you would use in a regular worming program. Ivermectin, moxidectin, fenbendazole and pyrantel are all usually effective.  If you are treating for pinworm you should also wash your horses perineal region (anus and area under their tail) regularly to remove any existing eggs.


Mud Fever

Mud Fever

It’s that time of year where mud fever is a problem many horse owners will be faced with.  Mud fever or pastern dermatitis is a common bacterial infection usually seen on the heel bulbs and back of the pastern.  There is usually a dominant bacteria such as Dermatophilus congolensis but the condition is frequently a complex mix of different bacterial and fungal species.

What does mud fever look like?

  • Matted hair with crusting and scabs
  • Small, ulcerated, moist lesions
  • Thick, creamy, yellow/white/green discharge
  • Deep cracks in the skin
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Heat, pain, swelling with possible associated lameness

What can cause mud fever?

  • Soil type – some soils can predispose horses to mud fever so outbreaks on yards can be common
  • Prolonged damp – either in the field or from deep, dirty, wet bedding.
  • Feathering – heavy feathering can predispose horses to infestation with Chorioptes mites (feather mites) which can increase the risk of mud fever.
  • Trauma to the skin can provide an entry point for the bacteria
  • White limbs have been suggested to be more susceptible to mud fever

How do you treat mud fever?

  1. Clip the affected area – remove the hair so the skin can dry out. Removing feathers also allows you to better access the skin to treat and inspect it.
  2. Wash with an antimicrobial and antibacterial shampoo or scrub, such as Malaseb or dilute hibiscrub then rinse and dry thoroughly. Continue once daily for 1 week.
  3. Gentle removal of softened scabs can help to decontaminate the area. Do not remove dry or well adhered scabs as this can leave an open wound in the skin and predispose to further infection.
  4. Apply an antibacterial cream such as Flamazine to the affected area twice daily. Our own antibiotic Mud Fever solution is very effective at treating even the worst of mud fever.

When should I call my vet?

  • If your horse becomes lame
  • The condition continues to get worse or does not show any sign of improvement
  • There is swelling of the area or leg
  • You have any other worries

 Please don’t hesitate to call us today if you have any concerns or questions regarding the health of your horse

IRAP Treatment

IRAP Treatment

Degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis is a very common disease in both young and old horses. It presents as lameness, joint swelling and inflammation caused by cartilage damage and inflammation of the joint synovium.  This damage results in the release of inflammatory mediators, notably Interlukin-1 (IL-1) which in turn leads to further cartilage damage.

IRAP or Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein prevents  IL-1 from binding to its receptor, stopping it from causing further inflammation and joint damage.

IRAP is produced by your horse’s blood cells and this treatment allows us to harnesses its anti-inflammatory protein and directs it to where it is needed.  We take approximately 50mls of your horse’s blood and transfer it into a container designed to stimulate the production of IRAP. The container is incubated for 24 hours while this process takes place.  The blood is then centrifuged to remove the cells leaving behind the now IRAP rich plasma.

This plasma is injected into the diseased joint every 7-10days for 3-5 treatments.

IRAP treatment is ideal for horses with mild to moderate radiographic signs of joint disease. It is not recommended in those with joint fragments but can be a useful tool to speed up recovery following their surgical removal and is considered low risk with few complications have been noted.

IRAP can be a great maintenance therapy for competition horses. It can reduce the need for steroid joint medications and can be used in conjunction with routine joint injections throughout the competitive season.

Please get in touch to discuss this treatment with us.


Gastric Ulcers

Gastric Ulcers

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) is an incredibly common disease of horses, particularly for those in training.  There are two main classifications, squamous ulcers caused by excess acid exposure and glandular ulcers which are less well understood.

Risk factors for EGUS

  • Transportation
  • Stress
  • Intermittent feeding
  • Racing/ competition
  • Intense training
  • Large amounts of concentrate feed
  • Illness
  • Stable confinement

Symptoms of gastric ulcers

There a large number of possible symptoms of gastric ulcers, these are a few of the more common ones:

  • Poor coat
  • Colic- particularly immediately after eating
  • Poor body condition
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor performance
  • Change in behaviour
  • Girthing pain
  • Chronic diarrhoea


The most accurate and useful method of diagnosis is gastroscopy. Gastroscopy provides a visual assessment of the ulcers, allowing a suitable treatment plan to be designed and for progress to be monitored.

We have a portable gastroscope that we can bring to your horse, saving the stress of transporting them to a clinic.


Omeprazole is currently the only licensed medication for the treatment of ulcers in the UK. Luckily it is usually very effective if a reliable formulation is used.  There are a few other adjunctive treatments available which are discussed in the gastric ulcer blog post on our website.


Recurrence of ulcers is very common, particularly in horses in intensive training or competition. Low doses of omeprazole have shown to help prevent the recurrence of ulcers in these horses.

Proper management can reduce recurrence, constant access to forage, regular turnout, giving a small forage feed 30 minutes prior to exercise and allowing your horse to express normal behaviours have all been shown to help prevent ulcers.

If you have any questions about gastric ulcers or your horses’ health please call us.

Eye Injuries

The prominent location of your horses eyes leave them very exposed to injury. Even minor damage to the eye can worsen rapidly and put their sight at risk in as quickly as a few hours to days in some cases. Combined with the fact that injury, infection or inflammation of the eye can be extremely painful for your horse it important to identify injury and seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

Signs of a Painful Eye

  • Excessive tear production
  • Squinting or closing of the eye
  • Swelling/ redness
  • Discolouration of the eye
  • Avoiding bright light
  • Constriction of the pupil
  • Discharge from the eye

What to do

If you suspect your horse has an injured eye:

  • Move them to a darkened stable
  • Remove any objects that they could rub their eye on (rugs, tack etc)
  • Call your vet



Euthanasia is a way of providing a quick and painless death for your horse to avoid unnecessary suffering.  It is never an easy decision to make but this post will provide you with some basic information regarding the whole process.

Reasons for Euthanaisa

  1. A horse is elderly and can no longer maintain a good quality of life
  2. A horse is suffering due to a incurable condition
  3. A horse has become a danger to people, itself or other animals


Familiar surroundings will cause the least stress for your horse but vehicle access is vital so they can be taken away after the procedure.

Do you need to be there?

If you are able to stay calm, your presence will often help to relax your horse. However if you do not wish to be there you may have someone there to help in place of you. We advise you are not present while your horse is being loaded to be taken away following euthanasia.


If the situation permits, you should discuss the claim with your insurance company.  They will usually require a veterinary certificate regarding your horse and the reason for euthanasia. They may also request a post-mortem examination.

The Euthanasia Procedure by Lethal Injection

Your horse will be given a large overdose of anaesthetic via intravenous injection. This will cause them to lose consciousness and collapse.  Different veterinarians have slightly different methods of administering the anaesthetic, some prefer to place an intravenous catheter to facilitate drug administration whereas some give the anaesthetic through a needle.  Some may sedate your horse prior to euthanasia where some may not.  The heart can take a few minutes to stop and a few deep breaths may be noticed, however your horse will be completely anaesthetised and unaware during this time.


The disposal options available are affected by the health of your horse at euthanasia and the method chosen


This is the most frequently used option. It is available in all situations and you may request to have the ashes returned to you if you wish at further cost.

Hunt Kennels

The hunt kennels will collect your horse but it must be fit for consumption by the hounds. This option is not available after lethal injection or if your horse suffered from certain diseases.


Burial on your own land is an option but you will need to check the current regulations with the Environment Agency and DEFRA prior to burial.


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