Tag Archives: Ulcerguard

The Weather Outside is Frightful…

I walked outside to sit on my porch and enjoy the evening, when I realized that the time is fast approaching where I can not longer do so without bundling up first.  I decided it was time to get ready for the winter months ahead especially for my equine friends.

I have included articles, lists, resources, etc to help you make sure you and your horse are ready for the dropping temperatures! 



Preparing Your Horse for Winter

Cushings Horse

By: Dr. Lydia Gray

Hot chocolate, mittens and roaring fires keep us warm on cold winter nights. But what about horses? What can you do to help them through the bitter cold, driving wind and icy snow? Below are tips to help you and your horse not only survive but thrive during yet another frosty season.

Nutrition

Your number one responsibility to your horse during winter is to make sure he receives enough quality feedstuffs to maintain his weight and enough drinkable water to maintain his hydration. Forage, or hay, should make up the largest portion of his diet, 1 – 2 % of his body weight per day. Because horses burn calories to stay warm, fortified grain can be added to the diet to keep him at a body condition score of 5 on a scale of 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese). If your horse is an easy keeper, will not be worked hard, or should not have grain for medical reasons, then a ration balancer or complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement is a better choice than grain. Increasing the amount of hay fed is the best way to keep weight on horses during the winter, as the fermentation process generates internal heat.

Research performed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine showed that if during cold weather horses have only warm water available, they will drink a greater volume per day than if they have only icy cold water available. But if they have a choice between warm and icy water simultaneously, they drink almost exclusively from the icy and drink less volume than if they have only warm water available. The take home message is this: you can increase your horse’s water consumption by only providing warm water. This can be accomplished either by using any number of bucket or tank heaters or by adding hot water twice daily with feeding. Another method to encourage your horse to drink more in winter (or any time of the year) is to topdress his feed with electrolytes.

Exercise

It may be tempting to give your horse some “down-time” during winter, but studies have found that muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and overall flexibility significantly decrease even if daily turnout is provided. And as horses grow older, it takes longer and becomes more difficult each spring to return them to their previous level of work. Unfortunately, exercising your horse when it’s cold and slippery or frozen can be challenging.

First, work with your farrier to determine if your horse has the best traction with no shoes, regular shoes, shoes with borium added, shoes with “snowball” pads, or some other arrangement. Do your best to lunge, ride or drive in outside areas that are not slippery. Indoor arenas can become quite dusty in winter so ask if a binding agent can be added to hold water and try to water (and drag) as frequently as the temperature will permit. Warm up and cool down with care. A good rule of thumb is to spend twice as much time at these aspects of the workout than you do when the weather is warm. And make sure your horse is cool and dry before turning him back outside or blanketing.

Blanketing

A frequently asked question is: does my horse need a blanket? In general, horses with an adequate hair coat, in good flesh and with access to shelter probably do not need blanketed. However, horses that have been clipped, recently transported to a cold climate, or are thin or sick may need the additional warmth and protection of outerwear.

Horses begin to grow their longer, thicker winter coats in July, shedding the shorter, thinner summer coats in October. The summer coat begins growing in January with March being prime shedding season. This cycle is based on day length—the winter coat is stimulated by decreasing daylight, the summer coat is stimulated by increasing daylight. Owners can inhibit a horse’s coat primarily through providing artificial daylight in the fall but also by clothing their horse as the temperature begins to fall. If the horse’s exercise routine in the winter causes him to sweat and the long hair hampers the drying and cooling down process, body clipping may be necessary. Blanketing is then a must.

Health

There are a number of health conditions that seem to be made worse by the winter environment. The risk of impaction colic may be decreased by stimulating your horse to drink more water either by providing warm water as the only source or feeding electrolytes. More time spent inside barns and stalls can exacerbate respiratory conditions like “heaves” (now called recurrent airway obstruction), GI conditions like ulcers, and musculoskeletal conditions like degenerative joint disease. Control these problems with appropriate management—such as increasing ventilation in the barn and increasing turnout time—and veterinary intervention in the form of medications and supplements.

Freeze/thaw cycles and muddy or wet conditions can lead to thrush in the hooves and “scratches,” or, pastern dermatitis, on the legs. Your best protection against these diseases is keeping the horse in as clean and dry surroundings as possible, picking his feet frequently, and keeping the lower limbs trimmed of hair. Another common winter skin condition is “rain rot,” caused by the organism Dermatophilus congolensis. Regular grooming and daily observation can usually prevent this problem, but consult your veterinarian if your horse’s back and rump develop painful, crusty lumps that turn into scabs.

About Dr. Lydia Gray



Winter Resources


Preparing your horse and barn for winter

Winter Horse Care Must Haves

Around the Barn Winter Prep

Winter Nutrition Tips for Horses

Penn State: Winter Care for Your Horses

Barn Tips for Winter

Horse Barn Health Checker

Cold Weather Barn Management Check List

15 Winter Tips

When It Rains, It Pours

The other day I noticed that Chance’s back fetlock a were slightly swollen and he was visably stiffer then normal. I also noticed a golf ball sized lump in the middle of the his chest. It wasn’t super sensitive and looked like a tick bite reaction, except there was no tick and a tiny barely noticeable scratch. 

I put a Poltace wrap on his back right leg (which was the leg he had previously injured and received stem cell injections in) and gave him some pain medication. I also started him on Baytril and Ulcerguard as a precaution as previously advised by the vet.

I made an appointment with our vet to come ultrasound his hind right leg and she was to come out in the next two days. I was incredibly anxious to say the least.  

The vet arrived and explained that the lump on Chance’s chest was a hematoma from another horse biting him or from him hitting something. Nothing to worry about, it was just the pooling of fluids to lowest point. 

I then trotted Chance back and forth as the vet watched. After an exam and the ultrasound, the vet explained that she felt that the swelling was due to Chance’s hip pain and the Pastern dermatitis that we have been treating and we’re finally coming off. 

The ultrasound showed a tiny DDFT lesion (vet referred to as a defect that shouldn’t be causing any symptoms). The ultrasound also showed scar tissue that we need to get “stretched out” so that he can gain increased flexibility and work as a protection for Chance’s tendons and legiments. The ultrasound also showed some fluid build up as well. Chance’s Fetlock looks good as do his legiments.

The vet wants Chance to stay on Baytril and Ulcerguard until complete. She also has added a 5 day course of Benadryl and steroids to help with edema of back hind legs. 

She also provided me with a shampoo that is milder to clean off scratches and apply swat after cleaning. The vet explained that she didn’t understand why people picked the scabs from the scratches because they’re super deep and pulling the scabs off does more harm than good.  

The Vet commented on Chance’s weight gain and how great his skin looks gooded. She wants me to continue working on the scratches and continue doing physical therapy on hills to build up his hind end then get farrier out for back feet. 

All and all I feel good about how Chance is doing and feeling. He is still full of energy, eats like he hasn’t eaten in a week, and his eyes and coat are bright. He is not on daily pain medication and is only given it when he is not feeling great. Aside from a few hiccups, Chance is loving life and being spoiled!

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