Preventing Common Health Issues in Horses – A Comprehensive Guide

Whether you’re a first-time horse owner or an experienced vet, you must be aware of some common health issues that horses can develop. These issues can be easily prevented and should be spotted early on.

Stabled and traveling horses are at higher risk for developing dental problems. This includes sharp hooks on the teeth and mouth abscesses.

  1. Colic

Colic is an ear-shatteringly loud crying bout that usually lasts for at least three hours a day, three days a week, and for at least three weeks. It’s also one of the most stressful situations for parents.

A detailed medical history and physical examination can help your GP make the correct diagnosis. Your doctor may also conduct a test to look for signs of other conditions contributing to your baby’s distress, such as intestinal obstruction or scratched eye.

  1. Sweet Itch

If you remember having a mosquito bite as a child, you know how itchy it can get. Just one bite can keep you up at night, itching and scratching your skin until the itch goes away.

Sweet Itch, also known as Summer Seasonal Recurrent Dermatitis (SSRD), is an allergic reaction to the saliva of certain biting insects. 

It is possible to prevent horses from developing sweet itch by taking specific measures in the barn and pasture. These include using fly repellents and full-coverage fly rugs. Stalling horses an hour before dawn and dusk helps reduce exposure to flies, and minimizing the presence of stagnant water can help reduce breeding sites for gnats.

  1. Laminitis

Laminitis is a common, painful disease that can affect any horse or pony at any time of the year. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Laminitis has no known cure, but it can be treated effectively to prevent permanent disability, founder, or death. Treatment involves reducing inflammation, preventing structural damage, and maintaining blood flow to the laminae.

Inflammation is the underlying cause of most health issues and should constantly be monitored on a scale from 0-10, with anything over 4 being abnormal and affecting overall health.

Inflammation is also linked to many other health issues, such as colic, allergies, aging, and many other maladies. This is why no supplement, diet, shoe, or trim will cure laminitis – it’s too deep-rooted and intertwined with so many other factors!

  1. Allergies

Allergies are a common problem, affecting more than 1 in 4 people in the UK at some point. They can be mild or severe and may even lead to life-threatening reactions (called anaphylaxis) requiring immediate adrenaline treatment (epinephrine).

An allergic reaction often produces symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. It can also cause stomach upset, vomiting, or dizziness.

  1. Squamous Gastric Ulcer Syndrome

Horses are designed to graze all day, so their digestive system evolved to secrete acid to help digest the roughage they eat. They produce up to nine gallons of acid every day in their stomach.

The equine stomach is divided into a squamous part (about one-third) and a glandular portion (two-thirds). 

The squamous portion is not accustomed to exposure to acid, and the glandular part has intrinsic protective mechanisms to deal with acid. EGUS occurs when there is an imbalance between gastric acid secretion and the stomach’s standard protective mechanisms.

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