April is Equine Health Month
In order to give your horse a long and fun-filled life, preventative health care is essential! We would love to perform yearly physical exams on all of our equine patients.
Areas we focus on for your horse partners’ health include: parasites, dentistry, hoof care, vaccines, and nutrition.
Internal parasites are common in our horses. They may pick them up from the environment, other horses, and flies. We strongly recommend strategic deworming in Montana. This includes running a fecal flotation to see which parasites are present in each horse. If the parasite load is high, then we recommend deworming with the proper dewormer for the specific parasite present. Two weeks later, we analyze another fecal float in order to know if the parasites were actually killed. The old notion of deworming every 3 months and rotating dewormers is no longer advised as we have created resistant parasites that we are having a hard time killing.
Dentistry is extremely important for our horses’ overall health, as their teeth affect everything else. Signs your horse may need a dental include: dropping feed, being underweight, tossing their head, or noting a foul odor around their face. We need to take care of our horse’s teeth as they wear, so they stay healthier longer. We strongly recommend annual dental exams and dental floats as needed. Regular dental care allows the horse to get more nutrients out of their diet by making their feed more digestible. It also provides comfort by removing sharp points.
Hoof care is important to maintain a balanced musculoskeletal system for our horses. If their hooves are long, chipped, or not properly taken care of, we can see abscesses, thrush and severe pain. Regular trimming and shoeing is essential in our rocky terrain to protect their feet. A supplement we recommend to support hoof health is biotin.
Vaccines are very safe and provide excellent protection from many diseases in our equine patients. We follow the American Association of Equine Practitioners guidelines. Core vaccines are defined as: protective vaccines for deadly diseases. Core vaccines include: rabies, tetanus, west nile virus, eastern and western equine encephalitis. Non-core vaccines are semi protective vaccines for less severe diseases and are given depending on the risk of the horse’s lifestyle. Non-corevaccines include: influenza, rhinotracheitis/herpes, potomac fever and strangles.
Equine nutrition is often overlooked, but it is pivotal in your horses overall well-being. Horses should receive 1-2% of their body weight in forage a day (which is about 20 lbs for a 1000 lb horse). This can be grass or grass/alfalfa mix, it depends on your horse’s work load. We recommend free-choice loose mineral to keep their vitamins and minerals at proper levels. Our area is deficient in selenium so we recommend supplementing that as a loose mineral.
In April and May we are having our local vaccine days on Fridays and Saturdays. In April we are offering 10% off dental floats!!! Keep an eye out for an informational dinner meeting for our equine clients, from Merck Animal Health in June.
Dr. Betsy Price