Category Archives: Treatment

Does Your Horse Need Electrolytes?

By. Casie Bazay

It’s summer, aka the sweatiest time of the year. Hooray!

And while sure, there are things to enjoy (like swimming, ice cubes, and air conditioning), outdoor activities such as barn chores and riding often leave us reaching for a Gatorade. But what about our horses? Do they need the equine equivalent of a sports drink full of electrolytes too?

First off, let’s discuss what electrolytes are exactly and a little bit about how they function in the body. Electrolytes are minerals that help to regulate many bodily processes. The main ones include Sodium (Na), Chloride (Cl), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), and Calcium (Ca).

In solid form, electrolytes bond into salts (such as sodium chloride) but when dissolved in water, they break down into individual ions, which carry a positive or negative charge. These charges allow them to conduct electricity and assist in electrochemical processes such as regulating heartbeat and muscle contraction.

But wait, electrolytes do more! They also aid in moving fluids in and out of cells and help the body to absorb nutrients. Without electrolytes, the water your horse drinks cannot be properly retained or utilized by the body.

In short, electrolytes are super important.

Like us, horses lose electrolytes through sweat, urine, and feces. Most of these minerals are replaced when your horse consumes grass, hay, and/or feed, with the exception being sodium and chloride, which should always be supplemented with either a salt block or loose salt.

So let’s get back to the question at hand: do horses need added electrolytes in the summer?

The answer depends on how much they’re sweating. If your horse sweats for a prolonged period of time, either because of high temperatures and/or humidity, intense exercise, or all of the above, electrolyte losses can be high and therefore will need to be supplemented.

This goes for endurance horses and those competing in three-day eventing or possibly long-distance trail riding. Electrolyte supplementation is also a good idea if a horse is being shipped long distance in hot weather and for those with Cushing’s disease who may sweat more just standing in the pasture.

How to feed electrolytes

Electrolytes can generally be supplemented in feed, added to water, or in paste or gel form. After a period of prolonged sweating, it’s recommended that electrolytes be provided for several days to make up for losses. You can even give electrolytes to your horse before a big event if you know he’s likely to be sweating a great deal. Continue to give electrolytes during the event as well.

When looking for an electrolyte supplement, make sure that sodium chloride is first on the list of ingredients, followed by potassium chloride. Many electrolytes are sugar-based and while horses may prefer them, they aren’t as effective.

With that said, it’s not a good idea to over-supplement with electrolytes, especially if your horse isn’t sweating much as they may irritate the digestive tract or even throw your horse’s mineral balance out of whack.

Many horses won’t need electrolytes at all in summer, but if your horse does, remember to supplement wisely! 

What’s In Your Tack Trunk?

Equine First Aid Kit
All horse owners should have an equine first aid kit & know how to use all of the supplies. At least twice yearly, examine & replenish outdated supplies. Store your first aid kit in your home or temperature controlled space. Leaving it in a trailer or uninsulated tack room will quickly degrade the supplies. Talk to your veterinarian about customizing your first-aid kit for your horse’s particular needs.

FUNDAMENTALS
Thermometer, Mercury or Digital
Stethoscope (good quality)
Headlight (good quality)
Proper Fitting Halter & Lead Rope
Latex Gloves (12)
Watch or Timepiece with Second Hand
BASIC EQUIPMENT
Bandage Scissors
Suture Scissors
Tweezers or Forceps (smooth jaws)
Non-Sterile Gauze – 4″x4″ Squares (1 package)
Conform® or Kling® Gauze 4″ (2 rolls)
Elastic Adhesive Bandage (Elasticon®) 3″ (2 rolls)
Cohesive Bandage (Vetrap®) 4″ (2 rolls)
Non-Adhesive Wound Dressing (Telfa® pads) 3″x4″ (2) & 3″x8″ (2)
Povidone Iodine (Betadine®) Solution (4 oz)
Antiseptic Scrub, Chlorhexidine or Povidone Iodine (Betadine®) Scrub (4 oz)
Sugardine
Small Plastic Containers for Mixing or Storage (2)
Wound Lavage or Cleaning Bottle, Saline (250 ml)
Tongue Depressors (6)
Alcohol Wipes (10)
Spray Bottle for Water (1)
Paper Towels (1 roll)
Multi-Purpose Tool, Leatherman® or Equivalent
Cotton Lead Rope (3/4″ – 1″ in diameter)
Electrolytes (paste or powder)
Fly Repellent Ointment (1)
Heavy Plastic Bags (2 – gallon & 2 – pint size)

SECONDARY EQUIPMENT
Cotton, Rolled Sheets, Leg Cottons (2)
Standing Wrap & Quilt or Shipping Boots
Easy Boot or Equivalent in Appropriate Size
Baby Diapers (2) (size 4 to 6 depending on hoof size)
Triple Antibiotic Ointment (1 tube)
Extra Halter & Lead Rope
Lariat
Syringe 35 cc (1)
Syringe 12cc (3)
Syringe 3 cc (3)
Syringe 3cc with 20gauge needle (3)
Syringe – 60 cc cath tip (2)
Needles – 18gauge – x 1.5″ (4)
Needles – 20 gauge – x1.5″ (4)
Eye Wash, Saline (1 bottle)
Opthalmic Ointment or Drops (1 bottle or tube)
Magnesium Sulfate, Epsom Salts (1 package)
Duct Tape (1 roll)
Clippers with #40 Blade (good quality)
Shoe Puller
Crease Nail Puller
Hoof Pick
Hoof Knife
Hoof File, Rasp
Clinch Cutters
Farrier’s Driving Hammer
Collapsible Water Bucket
Ice Wraps
Twitch
Bute Banamine Bordered

Talk to your veterinarian about dispensing a few medicines that you may use in an emergency. In most, if not all states, a veterinarian cannot legally dispense prescription items without a valid Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR). 

• Flunixin Meglumine (Banamine®) (injectable or paste)
• Phenylbutazone, Bute Paste (1)
• Trimethoprim-Sulfa Tablets SMZ-TMP in small container (75#)

Fungal Infections in Horses

www.merckvetmanual.com/horse-owners/disorders-affecting-multiple-body-systems-of-horses/fungal-infections-mycoses-in-horses

What a Difference 3 Weeks Can Make

Tilly came to me from a slaughter auction in Texas after 17-ish years as an Amish workhorse.  She was thin (she still is), sick (upper respiratory infection) had cracked hooves, had never had her teeth floated (they made a horrible grinding and clicking sound when she ate), and apparently had never been clipped or bathed or worn a blanket.  I do not think she had ever even had a treat (she still won’t take an apple or carrot).  

SYMPTOMS:

  • Rumbling gut
  • Cow pie stools
  • Grinding/clicking teeth
  • Cracked hooves
  • Dull coat
  • Underweight
  • Running nose

PROFESSIONALS:

  • Farrier for evaluation and trimming
  • Dentist for power float of teeth
  • Vet for physical, blood work, and fecal

TESTING/RESULTS:

  • CBC: all in normal range aside from her creatinine and protein suggesting dehydration. These values normalized after about 1 week)
  • Fecal: Minimal

FEED:

  • Triple Crown Senior Feed (Low sugars, low starch, high fat)
  • Tons of water with Horse Quencher added
  • Salt block

MEDICATIONS:

  • Exceed injections (2 total a week apart) then SMZ for 2 weeks
  • Banamine
  • Brewer’s Yeast (Stomach)
  • BioSponge (Gut health and to tackle her loose stools)
  • Electrolytes (To help with dehydration)
  • Strongid wormer 

 

 

Top to bottom:

Tilly on her way from Texas

Tilly when she first arrived in Virginia

Her feet upon arrival

Getting her teeth and feet done

Tilly after being clipped and bathed!

Resources for Chronic Loose Stools in Horses

 

BEST Guide to all Things Colitis, Diarrhea, and Intestinal Health

Age-Defying Equines

Diarrhea and Fecal Water Syndrome in Horses

What Comes Out, What Goes In

Horse First-Aid Kit

What to Include in a First-Aid Kit for a Horse

The Horse: Barn First-Aid

Medicine Chest Clean Out

Anti-Inflammatory Medications to have on Hand

Don’t Bury an Animal with Botulism

The facts of life and death – correct carcass disposal an essential part of biosecurity plans

By Dr Sarah-Jane Wilson, Livestock Biosecurity Network Northern Regional Manager

Death, unfortunately, is one of the most inescapable elements of life and one that, when it occurs within the livestock production chain, raises a litany of biosecurity issues.

Animal carcasses can pose a serious risk to both human and animal health, can jeopardise biosecurity and impose a range of environmental impacts if not properly disposed of.  These risks can include polluting water courses, spreading disease and interfering with community amenity.

The old practice of simply leaving a carcass anywhere in the paddock to rot simply does not stack up in a modern livestock industry where the implications of incorrect carcass management are better understood.

In fact, depending on where you live, there may be local, state or national regulatory requirements that relate to your on-farm waste management procedures and I encourage you to make yourself familiar with these obligations.

We strongly recommend carcass disposal is integrated into your on-farm biosecurity plan and that you consider the methods available to dispose of animal carcasses or animal waste products including hide, gut or bones after home slaughter or wool that is not suitable for baling.  Another important consideration is the equipment you may need to assist in this disposal.

If you live on a small farm, your best alternative may be to engage a specialist disposal service as opposed to burial or on-site burning.  Again, there may be some regulatory requirements for producers in higher density areas and I encourage you to seek the advice of your local council or departmental staff to ensure you adhere to any applicable guidelines. Generally speaking burial is often the most practical and preferred method of disposal on a small farm if you do not have access to a disposal service.

For all producers, your geographic location and common endemic diseases should be taken into consideration. For example, if you live in a botulism affected area, burning is the recommended and preferred method.  Botulism spores can live in the soil for many years, so simply burying the carcass will not suffice.

If you have multiple sudden deaths in your herd or flock, and/or do not know the cause of death, then it is best practice to investigate. Your local veterinarian or animal health/biosecurity officer may be able to provide further information. If you suspect an emergency or unusual disease, you should report this as soon as possible to your local animal health authority.

For more information, the NSW Environmental Protection Agency and the Tasmanian Environmental Protection Agency provide some good advice, as do most of the other applicable state departments, on how to effectively and responsibly dispose of the livestock carcasses on your property.

Top tips

Choosing a site (Source: NSW EPA)

If the carcasses must be disposed of on-site, it is preferable to have:

  • A burial area at least 100m away from houses or watercourses
  • The pit base at least 1m above the level of the watertable
  • Heavy soil of low permeability and good stability
  • Good access to the site for earthmoving machinery and stock transport unless the stock are to be walked in for slaughter.

Other pit considerations (Source: Tas EPA)

  • Sawdust can be added to the bottom of pits to reduce risk of leachate generation
  • It is not recommended that lime be added to pits unless there is a biosecurity reason for doing so as this will reduce the decomposition rate of the carcasses
  • Surface drainage should be directed away from the pit location by setting up diversion drains up slope of the pit location
  • When full, the pit must be covered with a minimum of 1m soil. The soil should be mounded over the pit to prevent rain collecting and it should be remembered the pit cover will subside as the carcasses break down.

If you need to burn (Source: NSW EPA)

  • To reduce swelling during decomposition, the abdomens and paunches of all the carcasses should be opened to allow gases to escape.
  • The carcasses should be sprayed with sump oil if immediate burial or burning is impractical.
  • They should be heaped in a secluded spot away from watercourses and sump oil should be spread liberally over the heap. The oil discourages flies and scavenger and the heap can then be burned later.

Planning ahead for what to do with a carcass or, multiple carcasses in the event of a natural disaster, can substantially reduce the stress of the moment. It can also make a dramatic contribution to the biosecurity soundness of your property and our greater livestock industries.

Here at LBN we’ve designed a small template to assist producers in thinking through the options that best work for them.  This can be found at: http://www.lbn.org.au/farm-biosecurity-tools/on-farm-biosecurity-planning-tools/.

  • Dr Sarah-Jane Wilson is the Livestock Biosecurity Network’s regional officer for Northern Australia. She can be contacted or 0437 725 877 or email sjwilson@lbn.org.au.

Ends

Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan

Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
— Read on horsenetwork.com/2018/10/spotting-lameness-game-plan/

When it rains…

ker.com/equinews/white-line-disease-requires-early-diagnosis-and-aggressive-treatment/