Are you worried about your horse’s health? Have they been showing symptoms that are likely to suggest that they could be in pain? It would be much easier if the suffering animal had the ability to vocalize the source of its agony! But since that cannot happen, here are four common horse ailments, their symptoms and treatment options. Hopefully they will help you discern the type of condition that your horse is suffering from and how to best restore their health.
Cushing’s disease is one of the most common illnesses that plague aging horses. It occurs when the pituitary gland is invaded by a tumor called pituitary adenoma. As the tumor grows, it disrupts the normal secretion of hormones in the horse’s body. The stress hormone called Cortisol is also released in plenty, leading to a series of negative effects on the horse’s body.
Typical symptoms of Cushing’s disease
- The coat sheds abnormally, is curly, long and shaggy.
- Your horse is constantly thirsty.
- The horse urinates frequently as well, as a result of the constant drinking.
- Laminitis ( Which we shall discuss further)
- Abnormal weight loss.
- Constant infections caused by bruises that do not heal quickly.
- Mouth ulcers.
Although this condition also affects humans and dogs, in horses it has been renamed as Pituitary Pars Intermediary Dysfunction or PPID.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Cushing’s disease
You need your equine vet to run blood tests to rule out any other complications. Once it has been determined that your horse indeed suffers from PPID, you can choose the form of medication to treat your horse. Pergolide is the most common choice for many horse owners. You may start with 5 milligrams administered orally per day, and then reduce with time as instructed by the vet. Bromocriptine and Cyproheptadine are also alternative medications for treating this condition.
You can manage PPID by simply changing the horse’s environment, their eating and grooming habits to make them less susceptible to the symptoms. For instance, clean any wounds regularly to avoid infections, feed them well to combat weight loss, etc.
It is a very painful condition that causes an inflammation of the tissue between the horse’s hoof and bone.
- A horse with Cushing’s disease is very susceptible to laminitis.
- Excessive grass intake.
- Being overweight.
- Trotting on a hard surface for a prolonged period of time, causing trauma to the hoof.
An unwillingness to move would be the most common symptom to look out for. You might also notice some abnormal rings on the hoof, or a hoof that has been hot for a long period of time. Any sign of laminitis should be treated as an emergency! It is only early detection and treatment that will save your equine friend from a very painful and possibly debilitating condition.
Horses are prone to injuries on their suspensory ligaments. Athletic horses are particularly more at risk due to the type of exercises they are subjected to.
Diagnosis and treatment
The condition is often misdiagnosed due to the fact that there is usually no physical evidence like a swelling to indicate a problem. If you however notice that your horse appears to be physically fit but has reduced its performance level, it would be time to call your equine vet for an early and proper diagnosis. A series of tests and careful observation will determine the root of the problem.
Give your horse time to rest. It could even be a year depending on how injured the ligaments are. Reduce the long or uphill walks to avoid straining the ligaments even further. Your confined horse, however, still needs to be hand walked or mildly exercised. Depending on the severity of the desmitis, your vet may recommend a more advanced form of treatment like injections or shock wave therapy.
It is an irreversible condition that may plague your horse. Once your horse has been diagnosed with arthritis, your best move is to work on enhancing the quality of your animal’s life rather than seeking treatment.
We can define arthritis as a degenerative condition of the joints. The horse will have a hard time placing their weight on their feet due to the pain that afflicts them. With time, the condition may develop to total lameness of the horse.
Your veterinarian can easily examine your horse physically to determine whether your horse suffers from arthritis. Sometimes an x-ray may be needed. Arthritis is mostly characterized by a joint stiffness that wears off with time.
Your horse’s condition can be managed through therapy, medication or supplements and a good exercise program.
There are great advancements that have made it easier for us to quickly diagnose and provide relief to our equine friends when they are ill. Once you have noticed that your horse could be suffering from the above mentioned conditions, it is imperative that you inform your vet immediately. Proper preventive care must also be taken to ensure that your horse health is always at its very best!
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