Marieke Schildkamp

Winner Winner – Congratulations to Fiona Breach Eventing

Congratulations to our lovely client, Fiona at Team Breach Eventing who won the CCI2* at Ballindenisk International Horse Trials on her dressage score of 45.6

The other highlight of the week was the donkey derby in which Georgia Bale Eventer and Marieke both participated without much success but having had a fantastic time stretching their equestrian skills to the max.

Marieke was also the FEI treating veterinarian for the event.

Foal Septicaemia

Septicaemia is one of the most serious conditions in foals, and unfortunately a relatively common occurrence in neonates. It is caused by infection of the bloodstream which causes inflammation all over the body. As soon as a foal is born it is exposed to bacteria. Two of the most vulnerable areas for bacteria to enter a newborn’s system are through its navel area and through its mouth. Therefore it is vital that two things occur shortly after birth: the navel is disinfected with a gentle iodine and the foal must receive the mare’s first milk (colostrum). It is from the mare’s colostrum that the newborn receives vital antibody protection against bacteria.

It is extremely important to observe newborn foals in the first 24 hours as this is when symptoms of Septicaemia will often show up. An unhealthy foal will go downhill very quickly and without veterinary care may die in a matter of hours.

A healthy foal will be exploring it’s surrounding, not be shy about trying out its legs, take frequent naps but be up and alert again after that. The septic foal will just slowly decline, want to sleep all the time, and become less responsive to stimulation.

There are a lot of different clinical signs that can be associated with Septicaemia. Most affected foals will have several of these signs, but not necessarily all of them. Some of these signs can also be caused by other problems, but remember that a newborn foal with problems of virtually any kind is at higher risk for developing Septicaemia. Signs of Septicaemia may include:

  • Depression
  • Lack of suckle reflex (normal foals should try to suck on a person’s fingers or a bottle nipple if placed in the foal’s mouth)
  • Fever (too high a temperature), or hypothermia (too low a temperature)
  • High heart rate (most new born foals have a heart rate between 80-120 beats per minute)
  • High respiratory rate or trouble breathing
  • Gums and lips an abnormal colour (e.g. dark red or purplish)
  • Swollen, painful joint(s)
  • Cloudy eyes (i.e. anterior uveitis)
  • Seizure activity if the brain is inflamed
  • Lack of urine production or renal failure

In most cases, the appropriate action to take if you have a foal with any combination of these signs is to call your veterinarian as soon as possible. A sick neonatal foal is an emergency.

Laminitis

Laminitis

Laminitis is a painful inflammatory condition of the tissues (laminae) that bond the hoof wall to the pedal bone in the horses hoof. It can affect any horse, of any age or sex, at any time of the year. Laminitis is caused by weakening of the supporting lamina within the hoof, leading to painful tearing of the support structure suspending the pedal bone within the hoof.

 

lam_diagramsLaminitis

Acknowledgments: Illustrations and format- JamesOrsini, Dvm ACVS. Equine Laminitis in McGraw-Hill yearbook of science and technology. 2008, 114-118.

The level of pain a horse demonstrates does not necessarily indicate either laminitis or founder. Some horses show tremendous pain while they are laminitic, and others show very little.There are many, many different causes of laminitis and it is a common misconception that laminitis is caused by over-eating grass only. We occasionally see laminitis in horses on box rest, or on very limited turnout. There are often a number of factors surrounding the onset and exacerbation of an episode of laminitis.

The type of grazing can be important. Nowadays, many ponies are liveried on land once used for cattle. This type of grazing may have been heavily fertilised and re-sown with particular species of grass which are not ideally suited to horses and ponies. Poor grass which is stressed by such things as an overnight frost or overgrazing will result in the formation of a type of sugar known as fructan in the grass, it is this type of sugar that can directly cause laminitis.
Occasionally, laminitis can develop in one limb where the opposite limb is painful for another reason. This is particularly a problem in heavy horses if they are affected by a foot abscess; the foot abscess causes the opposing limb to take more weight that it is accustomed to, resulting in laminitis.

Equine Cushing’s Disease, also known as PPID, is a very common disease in equine animals from their mid-teens onwards, although it can be seen in animals as young as eight years old. The laminitis which develops secondary to PPID is very difficult to control unless the underlying disease is also treated. Owners with older horses and ponies should be extra careful about their animal’s weight and liaise with us, to discuss blood testing for PPID, and develop a suitable nutritional strategy.

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), is another disease of overweight ponies and horses that leads to insulin resistance, and therefore an increased risk of laminitis. In cases of laminitis, we will often blood test for signs of EMS as well as Cushings disease.

Delays between foot trimming or shoeing are an important cause of stress and damage to the laminae. Regular visits by the farrier will also pick up the early warning signs of laminitis.

Laminitis usually affects both front feet but can occasionally affect one foot and occasionally hind feet. In most instances the affected animal will shift its weight from one limb to another, will be reluctant to move, may lie down and there is sometimes heat in the hooves with an increased ‘digital pulse’. A digital pulse can be difficult to find, but please ask one of our vets to show you how to find them next time we are with your horse. In milder cases, there may be only a slight change in the animal’s gait, moving in a ‘pottering’ fashion. These animals will go on to deteriorate further, unless they are rested and treated correctly.

It is absolutely essential that you contact your vet should your horse or pony show signs of laminitis. The treatment of this disease is time consuming and can be difficult, with a poor outcome in some cases.

There are a variety of medicines which can be used to help settle the pain, and reduce the ongoing damage. Box rest is extremely essential. The box should be well bedded down, over the entire surface area of the stable. At Shotter and Byers we aim to make as rapid a diagnosis as possible, and get your pony or horse in frog support pads as soon as possible, to reduce the pain and the damage being caused by the laminitis. Over time, It is absolutely crucial that the affected animal loses weight in a controlled fashion and we strive to work closely with our clients, to make this as easy as possible.

Horses or ponies with laminitis should not be forced to walk or be exercised. Affected animals must not have their feet placed in cold baths, streams or ice unless under veterinary direction. Do not starve overweight horses in an attempt at inducing rapid weight loss.

Clearly prevention is preferable to treating the disease, and the key to the prevention of laminitis is weight control. Being overweight is the most important known risk factor for the development of laminitis. Just being fat will not in itself cause the disease, but it puts the animal at such a high risk of succumbing to laminitis that any additional stress (such as transport or inclement weather) could cause the full blown disease. If you are concerned about your animal’s weight, then please speak to us.

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.

Signs

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.

Diagnosis

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

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.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia

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

Location

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.

Insurance

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.

Disposal

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

Cremation

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

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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