Tag Archives: ask the horse

Living Her Best Life

In the evening I take Ottille for a walk and set her free. Her carefree happiness is palpable and her beauty takes my breathe away every time. I still can not fathom how anyone would work this sweet girl until she reached 17 only to send her to a slaughter auction. Welcome to the rest of your life, sweet girl! Like I promised the first day we met, you can trust me to take care of you the rest of your days. ❤️

Do Horses Like Humans? A New Study Shows That They Understand Our Emotions

If you have ever owned or spent a lot of time riding with one particular horse, chances are good that you’ve felt some sort of special connection with them — and wondered if horses even like humans. Maybe you’ve felt like they were actually your…
— Read on www.bustle.com/p/do-horses-like-humans-a-new-study-shows-that-they-understand-our-emotions-8969931

You’re Always with Me

Tonight I lost my best friend, Chance. The one who whinnied the moment my car pulled up, would run away and wait for me to catch him only to turn around and run away again. He made me laugh, knew all my secrets and nuzzled me when I was sad. He taught me about unconditional love and having a positive attitude despite circumstances. He nodded when I asked if he loved me and gave kisses to get treats. He’s the 17.1 hand horse who would stand behind me and fall asleep as I did my school work and would get upset if any horse got near me but would never hurt a fly. He let children hug him and dogs run into his stall and let me dress him up with flowers. He loved rolling in the snow, laying in the sunshine, and would light up the moment he saw me. I’ll miss playing in the barn on cold nights and curling up reading in his stall when he wasn’t feeling well. I’m thankful that he waited for me to get there tonight to say goodbye so I could hold his head in my lap and talk to him while he passed. There will never be a sweeter horse with a more gentle and pure soul. Thank you, Bubba, for being with me through it all- high school, college, the break ups, the losses, the good and bad days. You gave one hell of a fight for 30+ years. Lucky and I will miss you- there will never be another you❤️ #myfavoriteredhead #chancewetake #20yearstogether #thebesthorseintheworld #myheart

Immune Booster Leads to Infection?

For the past 6 weeks, my horse has been receiving Ozonetherapy to aid in his chronic back leg related issues- dermatitis (“scratches”), previous DDFT tendon laceration, a history of Lymphingitis, and the residual scar tissue from his DDFT injury.  Due to his age (27), he lacks proper circulation in his hind end which does not help him fight his pastern dermatitis.  


According to the American Academy of Ozonetherapy, Ozonetherapy is described as;

“Ozonotherapy is the use of medical grade ozone, a highly reactive form of pure oxygen, to create a curative response in the body. The body has the potential to renew and regenerate itself. When it becomes sick it is because this potential has been blocked. The reactive properties of ozone stimulate the body to remove many of these impediments thus allowing the body to do what it does best – heal itself.”

“Ozonotherapy has been and continues to be used in European clinics and hospitals for over fifty years. It was even used here in the United States in a limited capacity in the early part of the 20th century. There are professional medical ozonotherapy societies in over ten countries worldwide. Recently, the International Scientific Committee on Ozonotherapy (ISCO3) was formed to help establish standardized scientific principles for ozonotherapy. The president of the AAO, Frank Shallenberger, MD is a founding member of the ISCO3.”

“Ozonotherapy was introduced into the United States in the early 80’s, and has been increasingly used in recent decades. It has been found useful in various diseases;

  • It activates the immune system in infectious diseases.
  • It improves the cellular utilization of oxygen that reduces ischemia in cardiovascular diseases, and in many of the infirmities of aging.
  • It causes the release of growth factors that stimulate damaged joints and degenerative discs to regenerate.
  • It can dramatically reduce or even eliminate many cases of chronic pain through its action on pain receptors.
  • Published papers have demonstrated its healing effects on interstitial cystitis, chronic hepatitis, herpes infections, dental infections, diabetes, and macular degeneration.”

 

After doing research and speaking to one of my good friends, we determined that Chance’s flare up of Lymphingitis, after almost 3 years of not a single issue, could possibly be caused by his immune system’s response to Ozonetherapy.  Let me explain.

Chance suffers from persistent Pastern dermatitis (“scratches”) since I purchased him in 2000.  I have tried everything- antibiotics, every cream and ointment and spray for scratches, diaper rash ointment, iodine and vaseline mix, Swat, laser treatments, scrubs and shampoos, shaving the area, wrapping the area, light therapy…you name it, I have tried it.  So, when we began Ozonetherapy to help break down the left over scar tissue from his old DDFT injury, I noticed that his scratches were drying up and falling off.  We continued administering the Ozonetherapy once a week for about 6 weeks.  The improvement was dramatic!  

However, one day Chance woke up with severe swelling in his left hind leg and obviously, he had difficulty walking.  He received Prevacox and was stall bound for 24 hours.  The vet was called and she arranged to come out the following day.  The next morning, Chance’s left leg was still huge and he was having trouble putting weight on it.  I did the typical leg treatments- icing, wrapping.  The swelling remained.  I tried to get him out of his stall to cold hose his leg and give him a bath but he would not budge.  He was sweaty and breathing heavily and intermittently shivering.  So, I gave him an alcohol and water sponge bath and continued to ice his back legs.   I sat with him for 4 hours waiting for the vet to arrive.  He had a fever and wasn’t interested in eating and his gut sounds were not as audible.  He was drinking, going to the bathroom, and engaging with me.  I debated giving him Banamine but did not want it to mask anything when the vet did arrive.  

The vet arrived, gave him a shot of Banamine and an antihistamine and confirmed that Chance had a fever of 102 degrees and had Lymphingitis.  There was no visible abrasion, puncture, or lump… I asked the vet to do x-rays to ensure that he did not have a break in his leg.  The x-rays confirmed that there was no break.  The vet suggested a regiment of antibiotics, steroids (I really am against using steroids due to the short-term and long-term side effects but in this case, I would try anything to make sure he was comfortable) , prevacox, and a antacid to protect Chance from stomach related issues from the medications.  It was also advised to continue to cold hose or ice and keep his legs wrapped and Chance stall bound.  

The following day, Chance’s legs were still swollen but his fever had broken.  The vet called to say that the CBC had come back and that his WBC was about 14,00o. She suggested that we stop the steroids and do the antibiotic 2x a day and add in Banamine. I asked her if she could order Baytril (a strong antibiotic that Chance has responded well to in the past) just in case.  And that is what we did.  

Being as Chance had such a strong reaction to whatever it was, I did some thinking, discussing, and researching…first and foremost, why did Chance have such an extreme flare up of Lymphingitis when he was the healthiest he has ever been?  And especially since he had not had a flare up in 3+ years…plus, his scratches were getting better not worse.  The Ozonetherapy boosted his immune system and should provide him with a stronger defense against bacteria, virus’, etc.  So why exactly was he having a flare up?  And that is when it hit me!

In the past when Chance began his regiment of Transfer Factor (an all natural immune booster), he broke out in hives.  The vet had come out and she felt it was due to the Transfer Factor causing his immune system to become “too strong” and so it began fighting without there being anything to fight, thus the hives.  My theory- Chance started the Ozonetherapy and his body began to fight off the scratches by boosting his immune system.  As the treatments continued, his immune system began to attack the scratches tenfold.  This resulted in his Lymphatic system to respond, his WBC to increase, and his body temperature to spike.  Makes sense…but what can I do to ensure this is not going to happen again?  

My friend suggested attacking the antibiotic resistant bacteria by out smarting them…okay, that seems simple enough…we researched the optimal enviroments for the 3 types of bacteria present where Chance’s scratches are (shown in the results of a past skin scape test).  The bacteria – E. Coli, pseudomonas aeruginosa and providencia Rettgeri. The literature stated that PA was commonly found in individuals with diabetes…diabetes…SUGAR!  How much sugar was in Chance’s feed?  I looked and Nutrina Safe Choice Senior feed is low in sugar…so that is not it.  What else can we find out?  The optimal temperature for all three bacteria is around 37 degrees celsius (or 98.6 degrees fahrenheit), with a pH of 7.0, and a wet environment. Okay, so, a pH of 7.0 is a neutral.  Which means if the external enviroment (the hind legs)pH is thrown off, either to an acidic or alkaline pH, the bacteria will not have the optimal enviroment to continue growing and multiplying.  How can I change the pH?  

Vinegar!  An antimicrobial and a 5% acetic acid! And…vinegar is shown to help kill mycobacteria such as drug-resistant tuberculosis and an effective way to clean produce; it is considered the fastest, safest, and more effective than the use of antibacterial soap.  Legend even says that in France during the Black Plague, four thieves were able to rob the homes of those sick with the plague and not become infected.  They were said to have purchased a potion made of garlic soaked in vinegar which protected them.  Variants of the recipe, now called “Four Thieves Vinegar” has continued to be passed down and used for hundreds of years (Hunter, R., 1894).

I went to the store, purchased distilled vinegar and a spray bottle and headed to the farm.  I cleaned his scratches and sprayed the infected areas with vinegar.  I am excited to see whether our hypothesis is correct or not…I will keep you posted!

 


References & Information


Effect of pH on Drug Resistent Bacteriaijs-43-1-174

NIH: Drug Resistant Bacteria

Vinegar

Lymphatic Conditions

Horses Side Vet Guide

What does my horse’s CBC mean?

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Nutrena SC Senior feed ingredience
The American Academy of Ozonetherapy

Hunter, Robert (1894). The Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Toronto: T.J. Ford. ISBN 0-665-85186-3.

 

I have a limp!

Resources on how to diagnose, treat, prevent, and handle lameness in horses

Your Horse Has a Swollen Leg – Why and What To Do | EquiMed – Horse Health Matters

All About the Fetlock

Fetlock Lameness – It’s importance… | The Horse Magazine – Australia’s Leading Equestrian Magazine

Causes of Equine Lameness | EquiMed – Horse Health Matters

 

Common Causes of Lameness in the Fetlock

fetlock lame

 

Pain in the Neck

My old guy has always had issues with his cervical spine/neck.  Throughout the years he has developed arthritis which has caused symptoms which mirror EPM such as; ataxia, difficulty bending, hind end weakness, difficulty going up hills, lethargy, difficulty balancing when foot is lifted, muscle atrophy, sore back…you get the picture.

When his symptoms first came on I had the vet test for EPM.  The test was positive.  I did my research and found out that about 50% of horses will test positive for EPM but only 1% show actual impairment from the virus.  I went ahead and completed two rounds of EPM medication therapy and still his symptoms continued.  So, I sought out another vet who practiced eastern and western medicine.

After some chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture she felt that his issues were actually due to the cervical spine and not EPM. The vet also showed me how, when looking at Chance straight on, one of his eyes was lower then the other- a classic sign of cervical and jaw issues. We continued with the chiropractic and acupuncture therapy and have continued for over a year and the change has been remarkable.  Along with these therapies, we upped his feed, added supplements, began stretches and different exercises, and had him walking and running up and down hills whenever he was outside.  The dentist has also been of great help by floating Chance’s teeth every few months instead of once a year.  This helps with the alignment of his teeth because he tends to ware one side of his teeth down more then the other; ultimately straining his jaw and neck.

He has rebuilt the muscle on his hind end, put on around 100 lbs, and is able to do stretches while someone is holding his foot up.  He runs when he is outside and is no longer on pain medications (except on the rare occasion).

Here is some useful information on a horse’s back and cervical spine.

Diagnosing A Horse’s Neck Problems

Main Causes of Ataxia in Horses

Arthritis of the Spine in Horses

Back Stretches

Exercises for Spinal Issues in Horses

Gator Rubs

Chance was not acting like himself near the end of the snow storm.  He seemed lethargic and gloomy…his appetite was good but the light in his eyes was not as strong.

I called the vet and asked her to please come out. She came out that day and ran a CBC along with going some acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments.  The vet also gave Chance B12 (or as our previous vet called “the old man shot”).

She contacted me after seeing Chance and informed me that she was diagnosing him with an ulcer and thinks that he may have either slipped on the snow and hurt (bruised) his hip or hurt it while rolling.

I asked about the diagnostics that lead to the ulcer diagnosis.  She explained that with horses there are 7 “acupuncture points”.  When they are all reactive 85% of the time the horse has a gastric ulcer. She also went on to explain that with the lethargy and the change in patterns due to the snow a gastric ulcer would be plausible.   They are apparently common when there are changes in the horse’s routine and fairly easy to cure.   She prescribed “Nux” (give 1 teaspoon until gone) and Ranitidine.

I am suppose to let her know if he stops eating or becomes more lethargic.  She felt that he was not at risk for colic because he is eating well and on a high quality feed.  Fingers crossed.

hc-gastric-ulcers


Resources on Gastric Ulcers and Prescribed Medications



Gastric Ulcers in Horses

Ranitidine

Nux Vomica Herbal Medicine

How To Read Equine (Horse and donkey) Blood Work?

I had the vet run some blood work on Luck and Chance as a precaution, because of the “Panic Grass” in Virginia has been causing liver failure in horses, and because I like to do a full work up every 6-12 months.



Chance’s Blood Work



C 1

C 3


L 2


INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS



Elevated Potassium (6.6 mEq/L):

“Low levels indicate depletion and are often a predisposing factor, along with
dehydration, in fatigue, muscle cramps, colic, synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (“th
umps”), diarrhea and other symptoms of exhausted horse syndrome. Even seemingly normal or high-normal levels may in reality be lower, but appear higher due to concentration secondary to dehydration as measured by total protein and albumin levels.
Therefore, levels at the lower end of the normal range should be evaluated relative to concurrent dehydration” (https://www.quia.com/files/quia/users/medicinehawk/2407-Vet/labs.pdf).

Low Sodium:

“Low levels commonly indicate loss through excessive sweating, or through kidney or intestinal disease. Low levels may also be found in young foals with bladder damage. Increased sodium levels are usually a sign of dehydration” (http://www.minstervets.co.uk).

Low Platelets: 

This was the most worrisome in regards to the potential immediate issues that could ensue because of the low platelet count. 

“The platelets are the third cellular component of blood (along with red and
white blood cells). These cells contain a number of biologically active molecules that are
critical to the blood clotting process. Low levels may indicate a number of disease
processes not necessarily directly related to a bleeding disorder. Chronic or acute blood
loss, immune disease, toxemia, liver, spleen or bone marrow disease, or even critically
reduced or increased body temperatures can also cause low platelets counts. Any
significantly low platelet counts should be further investigated by a veterinarian. High
levels are generally clinically insignificant unless the condition persists, in which case it may be indicative of bone marrow neoplastic disease” (Susan Garlinghouse).

Low Glucose:

“Glucose is the source of the body’s energy. It is measured in suspected cases of equine metabolic syndrome and sometimes in cases of equine Cushing’s disease. Blood glucose may also be measured as part of a glucose tolerance test, assessing small intestinal function” (http://www.minstervets.co.uk).

Chance was tested for Cushing’s Disease within the last year and the test showed that he did NOT have Cushings. 
Elevated CPK (337 U/L):

Levels 2-3x the highest number in range are considered significant according to vetstream.com.  Levels are easily increased due to poor handling techniques as well as lab error.

According to Dr. Christine Woodford and Carla Baumgartner on vipsvet.com, “Elevations of CPK and SGOT are indictors of muscle inflammation–tying-up or rhabdomyolysis. The term “rhabdo” means muscle and “myolysis” means rupture of muscle cells. The CPK and SGOT are very sensitive indicators of skeletal muscle damage, and they rise in concentration proportionally with the amount of damage. A bit of timing is required in order to obtain the most sensitive results; CPK rises (due to its leakage from muscle cells into the blood system) approximately six to eight hours after the onset of muscle inflammation, and SGOT rises after approximately 12-14 hours. The absolute peak of CPK concentration and the time it takes to return to normal are important indicators of the severity of muscle damage and the response to therapy.”

Elevated MCV: Is the average volume of red blood cells.

  • Macrocytosis.
  • Indicates immature RBC in circulation (suggests regenerative anemia).
  • Very rare in the horse, but may observe increasing MCV within normal range as horses increase erythropoiesis.

According to Vetstream.com, “Macrocytosis (increased MCV) resulting from release of immature RBC from the bone marrow during regeneration is very rare in the horse therefore the MCV is less useful in the horse than in other species.”

Elevated MCH: Is the average amount of hemoglobin in an individual red blood cell.

  • Hemolysis, if intravascular in nature .
  • Errors can occur during processing

Low RBC:

“You may be inclined to think that red blood cell levels need to drop significantly before they cause a problem for your horse. But the truth is that even low-grade anemia – levels hovering around that 30% range on a PCV – can impact your horse physically and may indicate a health problem. This is especially true for high performance athletes. The greater your horse’s physical condition and demand, the higher on the range of normal her red blood cell counts will typically be. Therefore, a red blood cell level low on the normal range or just below may indicate a concern for a racehorse, for example, where it wouldn’t for that pasture pet.”  See more at: http://www.succeed-equine.com/succeed-blog/2014/02/05/anemia-horses-part-1-just-equine-anemia/#sthash.JJuWN5ob.dpuf


Luck’s blood work



L 1

C 2

Elevated Potassium: Potassium can become elevated for a number of reasons.

According to Vetstream.com,

  • 98% of potassium is intracellular.
  • Changes in serum or plasma potassium levels reflect fluid balance, rate of renal excretion and changes in balance between intra- and extracellular fluid.
  • Hypokalemia increases membrane potential, resulting in hyperpolarization with weakness or paralysis.
  • Hyperkalemia decreases membrane potential with resulting hyperexcitability.
Susan Garlinghouse states that, “High serum levels of potassium during an endurance ride are generally not a concern. These increases often reflect nothing more serious than a delay between blood collection (when potassium is actively sequestered inside cells) and sample measurement (after potassium has had time to “leak” from inside the cells out into the plasma or serum).”  This could also be a result of Luck and Chance running around in the heat when the vet arrived.
Increased [potassium] (hyperkalemia) can occur from;
  • Results can be false due to processing time (ie: if the lab waited too long to process blood sample)
  • Immediately after high intensity exercise.
  • In association with clinical signs in horses with hyperkalemic periodic paraysis (HYPP)    .
  • Bladder rupture (neonate)    .
  • Hypoadrenocorticism  [Pituitary: adenoma]  (rare).
  • Metabolic acidosis.
  • Acute renal failure    .
  • Extensive tissue damage (especially muscle).
  • IV potassium salts, eg potassium benzyl penicillin, potassium chloride    .
  • Phacochromocytoma (rare in the horse).
    Hypokalemia
  • Chronic diarrhea.
  • Diuretic therapy, especially potassium-losing diuretics.
  • Excess bicarbonate/lactate therapy.
  • Chronic liver disease    .
  • Acute renal failure (polyuric phase)    .
  • Recovery from severe trauma.
  • Metabolic/respiratory alkalosis.
  • Prolonged anorexia.
  • Recovery period after high intensity exercise (30-60 min after).
  • Parenteral feeding.

In combination with clinical signs and results of other tests results could signify the following;

Elevated GGTP:

* Donkeys tend to have 3x higher levels then horses.  This means that in stead of the typical equine range being 1-35 U/L a typically donkey’s range would be up to ~105 U/L.  Lucky’s test showed he had 120 U/L which is still elevated but not much.  It took sometime to get Luck from the field when the vet arrived- he ran around non stop.  The excitement and anxiety could be the cause of the elevated levels.

RBC:

Katherine Wilson, DVM, DACVIM, of the Virginia–Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (See more at: http://equusmagazine.com/article/decode-horses-bloodwork-27122#sthash.sc4J1ISJ.dpuf) explains “RBC count is probably the least helpful information because horses usually don’t have big changes in red blood cell numbers. It is not uncommon for horses to have an RBC count a little lower than normal range, however. The term we use for low RBC is anemia, but unless the count gets very low, a horse doesn’t necessarily need to be treated for that condition. A lot of diseases or any chronic long-term disease can cause mild anemia. Usually if we see mild anemia on the bloodwork and the horse has other issues, the anemia is just an indication that we need to fix/treat another problem.”

Low or Elevated Values

  • Splenic contraction.
  • Polycythemia (rare) .
  • Dehydration.
  • Consider causes of anemia
  • Blood loss    .
  • Hemolysis (i in vivo or artifact).
  • Decreased bone marrow production.
  • Poor technique at sampling.
  • Poor handling and storage of samples.
  • Poor technique in laboratory.

Low Bilirubin:

Heather Smith Thomas of Equus states,  “Another indication of liver health is a pigment called bilirubin, which is formed from the breakdown of red blood cells. Elevated levels can mean unusual loss of red cells or liver dysfunction. However, in horses, unlike other animals, elevated levels of bilirubin often isn’t serious. “This value can increase fairly rapidly when horses go off feed, and this is something that is unique to the horse,” says Wilson. “Often we get phone calls from veterinarians who don’t work on horses much or owners who see the blood work and note that the bilirubin is above normal range and are concerned about liver disease. If the horse is off feed for 24 to 48 hours, that value will increase, but this is just a temporary elevation.”

Elevated Hemoglobin (19 g/dL):

According to vetstream.com, Thoroughbred and other “hot-blooded” horses Hemoglobin range differs from other equine- the thoroughbred range = 11.0-19.0g/l.

Elevated Hematocrit (54 %):

 Elevated levels could be due to;

  • Dehydration.
  • Splenic contraction.
  • Polycythemia .

“A measurement of the relative amount of red blood cells present in a blood
sample. After blood is drawn, a small tube is filled and centrifuged to separate the heavier
blood cells from the lighter white blood cells and the even lighter fluid (plasma or serum)
portion. A higher than normal reading generally indicates dehydration (same number of
cells in less plasma volume) or may be due to splenic contraction secondary to
excitement or the demands of exercise. A low reading may indicate anemia, though not
invariably. Highly fit athletic horses may normally have a slightly lower hematocrit at
rest due to an overall more efficient cardiovascular system. Evaluation of true anemia in
horses requires several blood samples over a 24-hour period” (Susan Garlinghouse, 2000/ http://www.equinedoc.com/PrideProjectInfo.html).

It took sometime to get Luck from the field when the vet arrived- he ran around non stop.  The excitement and anxiety could be the cause of the elevated levels.

Low Sodium:

According to horseprerace.com, “Low levels indicate depletion and are often a predisposing factor, along with dehydration, in fatigue, muscle cramps, colic, synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (“thumps”), diarrhea and other symptoms of exhausted horse syndrome. Even seemingly normal or high-normal levels may in reality be lower, but appear higher due to concentration secondary to dehydration as measured by total protein and albumin levels. Therefore, levels at the lower end of the normal range should be evaluated relative to concurrent dehydration.”



More information on your horse’s blood work

Decoding your horse’s blood work

CBC and Chemistry Profile

A Better Understanding of the Results



The vet suggested that I add water to Luck’s and C’s feed in case their values are due to dehydration. She also explained that some of the values may be a result of running around in the field right before drawing them along with anxiety.  

The anxiety and running around seemed fair but I am hesitant on the dehydration portion.  Yes, I know it is winter and that horses are less likely to drink as much water.  But if it were due to dehydration then the Albumin would be low as well.  But, the blood work revealed that the Albumin was 2.8 (Luck) and 3.2 (Chance).  These values are within the normal range…. that being said, the results could also be due to lab handling especially the Potassium levels.

While speaking with my uncle Jerry (the horse whisperer), he suggested adding a salt block to the horse’s feed.  This will increase the horse’s thirst which will get them  drinking more.  I also added heated water buckets so that the water won’t freeze and in case they are less inclined to drink when the water is cold.

In order to feel comfortable about my horse and donkey being healthy, I will have more blood work done this week to make sure everything is in fact okay.

 

 

“But Baby It’s Cold Outside…”

Here are some helpful ways to know when you should blanket your horse and what type of blanket to use.

BlanketTempChart_0 Untitled 2 Temperature-Chart* Sources: Weatherbeeta.com, Auburn University

Santa Is Coming To Town!

ChristmasHorse(In order from top left to right) SmartPak monthly supplements- A New Waterproof Blanket- Professional Horseman Boots- A bright orange halter to keep him safe during hunting season- DuraLactin an all natural anti-inflammatory and pain medication- Equine Edibles Candy Can Bran Mash- Epson Salt Poultice for sore muscles- Transfer Factor to boost your horse’s immune system during the winter months- Acupuncture- A massage- Kinesio Tape for sore muscles or stiffness-  a complete first aid kit because you can never be overly prepared!