2001 Sonora Lane

Manheim, PA 17545

Edelson Equine Associates - Horse Veterinarian Manheim

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We try and bring you information that may benefit you and your horse, and also keep you up-to-date on the latest news. Feel free to add comments or ask questions.

By Maegen Brown CVT, Apr 12 2017 01:09PM

Due to a recent outbreak of feed acquired Botulism toxicity in a large population of horses in Eastern PA, we wanted to revisit what Botulism toxicity can do in horses. Botulism is a highly fatal neurologic disease caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Despite horses’ large size, they are the most susceptible species to botulism toxicity. There are seven known strains of C. botulinum, types A through G. Types A and B are most common in horses and are usually acquired through spoiled forage sources or silage. This is a concern on dairy farms where the cows can be close to the horses making it possible for silage to contaminate the horses’ feed sources. Type C can be caused by a decaying dead animal in the feed or water. Type B is the only strain that has a vaccination marketed for use in horses. Types D through G have never been reported in horses in the United States. The bacteria produces a toxin, and it is the toxin that causes muscle weakness. The severity of the disease depends on the amount of toxin that is in the horse’s system, blocking transmission between the nerves and the muscles. If there is a minimal amount of toxin, recovery is expected, but a large amount of toxin can be fatal. Botulism treatment includes a combination of antitoxin administration and supportive care.

After exposure, the botulinum toxin enters the bloodstream, circulates throughout the body, and enters various motor nerve cells. As a result, the horse becomes weak and potentially paralyzed. The earliest clinical signs of botulism in adult horses usually include drooling, dropping food, weak tongue tone, inability to swallow, and anorexia. The horse will most likely still have an appetite in earlier stages, but they will appear to be playing in their feed or water being unable to swallow. As the disease progresses, the muscle weakness worsens, breathing becomes difficult, and death can occur due to the paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Botulism is usually fatal if left untreated; however if treated, a horse can fully recover. So at the first signs it is important to contact your veterinarian, the more time that goes by without treatment; the lesser the chances of recovery.

Prevention is the best method to protect horses from acquiring Botulism toxicity. An intramuscular vaccine is the best preventative measure; it is given in three doses initially, then an annual single dose booster is required. Pregnant broodmares should be vaccinated for Botulism as part of their pre foaling vaccines. “Shaker Foal Syndrome” is generally seen in foals at 1 to 2 months of age, but it can develop as early as 2 weeks or as late as 6 months. Also, good husbandry around the barn can help. Be sure to never feed rotten or moldy grain or hay. Do not use this material as bedding either, as horses may still eat it. Keep water troughs and buckets clean. Be sure to properly dispose of any dead animal carcasses found on the property or in the field and pasture.

By Maegen Brown CVT, Apr 12 2017 01:00PM

Tumor is an attention getting word. To define in simple terms a tumor is an uncontrolled growth of cells, which invade normal tissues and disrupt the normal functions. Tumors can be of two different types; benign- which is slow growing and unlikely to spread, or malignant- which is fast growing, easily metastasized, and spreads to other tissues. Luckily the majority of tumors in horses are benign. The two most common types of tumors are sarcoids and melanomas; both of these types can be benign, however, they both can be a nuisance and a health risk not to mention unsightly.

Sarcoids are the most common tumors on horses. Small, flat, crusty- resembling a wart; this type is a verrucous sarcoid and they tend to grow slowly. Fibroblastic sarcoids are more aggressive and invasive; they are raised bumpy lesions that often bleed or ooze serum if agitated. Areas most affected and likely to have sarcoids develop are: skin of the head, especially the mouth, eyelids, and ears. Legs, tail head, and abdomen area. Sarcoids can seemingly appear quickly which has led researchers to believe there may be an infectious or viral cause. Most equine sarcoids are infected with bovine papilloma virus (BPV)-causes non-malignant warts on cattle. Horses are accidental hosts and the virus causes equine cells to develop tumor like characteristics. It is a good idea to have your veterinarian examine the tumor to decide the type of tumor your horse has and what treatment protocol should be implemented. Treatment can depend on the size and location of the tumor. Waiting too long to act could allow the tumor to grow too large or become malignant, and the option of treatment may be lost. So it is best to explore treatment options early on. Options for treatment are as follows: Surgical excision, Cryonecrosis (freezing with liquid nitrogen), radiation therapy, destruction by surgical laser, chemotherapy, or injection of immune stimulation. Veterinarians may use one or any combination of the listed treatments based on the size and location of the tumor.

Melanomas; what every owner of a grey horse fears. Like sarcoids they can be benign; however, they can swiftly change to malignant. Melanomas are tumors of the melanocytes, the cells that produce skin pigment. Unlike melanomas in humans that are thought to be triggered by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, horses’ melanomas do not appear to be linked to an overdose of sun. Common areas for melanomas are: the underside of the tail, perineal and peri-anal regions, as well as the penis and sheath in males. They also can be found on the ears and other areas on the head, jugular region and parotid salivary gland. Tumors can also spread internally- commonly gravitating to the liver, spleen, and lungs.

There are four types of melanomas we commonly see in horses. Melanocytic nevi are often benign and found on younger horses. Dermal melanoma lesions are usually benign but may develop malignant over time. They frequently develop in grey horse less than 15 years of age. Dermal melanomaosis, frequently malignant often spreading to other organs. They usually occur in grey horses older than 15 years of age. Anaplastic melanoma, these are rare but the tumors are malignant and frequently metastasize. They tend to occur in older (over 20) non-grey horses. It is very important to have your veterinarian examine any mass found on your horse. Diagnostics can be performed to discover what type you are dealing with. Some of these tests are fine needle aspirate, biopsy, or removal of mass entirely. A rectal exam or ultrasonography can help locate internal tumors. As with the sarcoids there are a few treatment options for melanomas that are similar. Surgical excision, cryoncrosis, Cisplatin (chemotherapeutic drug) along with surgical excision. Cimetidine, a histamine blocker that can preserve the body’s immune response and allow tumor cell killing. Also there is a melanoma vaccine that is being studied at the University of Florida’s college of Veterinary medicine.

Often melanomas are diagnosed in its later stages when treatment is more difficult or unlikely to help. If you notice a black nodular mass on your horse or feel something abnormal under the skin, be sure to call your veterinarian promptly.

When it comes to sarcoids and melanomas there is not one treatment plan every horse. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is best; discuss with your veterinarian the best treatment plan possible for your horse.

By Maegen Brown CVT, Sep 2 2016 04:12PM

That time of year has come upon us; WNV cases have begun to arise. In 2016 alone 18 states have reported cases of the disease. The first case was reported on 6/27/16, to the most recent case reported on 8/31/16. Among the 18 states New York was one; and for us that is a little close for comfort. Currently there is no treatment for WNV; however, there is a vaccine that is highly recommended. WNV infects the central nervous system and most infections are caused by mosquito bites. So it is best to vaccinate in the spring, and then booster, depending on the climate, again in late Summer/ early Fall, since these are the times that mosquito populations are high. Some signs to look for are: Fever, weakness of hind limbs, paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, ataxia (weakness), head pressing, aimless wandering, convulsions (seizures), inability to swallow, walking in circles, and hyperexcitability. If you were to see these symptoms you should contact your veterinarian immediately. As well as vaccinating, preventing exposure is also an important precaution; such as, removing standing water that creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes, etc.

By Maegen Brown CVT, Jun 2 2016 03:09PM

Spring and Summer bring nicer weather along with the unfortunate insect population increase. These bothersome pests are not only annoying but can spread disease and cause skin issues. Some of the more common insects are: houseflies, horse flies, biting midges, and mosquitoes. House flies usually make up the majority of the swarms around you and your horse. Breeding preferences of houseflies are trash cans and manure piles, and they have the potential to produce 191 quadrillion more house flies between April and August. Horse flies and biting midges tend to breed in semi-aquatic conditions such as, mud and decaying material. Mosquitoes breed in aquatic environments like stagnant ponds or puddles.

Flies can spread various parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Summer sores are a condition derived from a parasite that houseflies carry. Horse flies can spread ringworm and equine infectious anemia. Biting midges can cause allergic reactions, resulting in equine allergic dermatitis. Mosquitoes harbor and spread deadly viruses such as Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis (EEE and WEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV).

Management practices can go a long way in reducing the insect count thus reducing the chances of health problems. One of the most important methods of fly control is proper cleanup and disposal of hay, bedding, and manure. By removing manure you are removing one of the houseflies breeding environments. Proper drainage of water is also important; flies cannot breed well in a dry environment. Water buckets and troughs should be emptied and cleaned often; this prevents the mosquitos’ population from rising. Be sure to check your property for items that can hold water and create a mosquito’s breeding ground, like tires, birdbaths, and plant pots.

There are simple things you can do to try and prevent flies from landing on your horse and transmitting parasites and diseases. Fly masks are a great way to keep flies out of horses’ eyes and ears. Fly sheets are also available; these can be good for horses that may have a fly allergy. Some ways to prevent insects in your barn is to install screens in the windows and doorways; also, fans are great because you can angle them towards the doors so that the outward flow hinders the insects from entering.

Aside from physical barriers, there are many chemical and biological control products on the market. There are insecticides that can be directly applied to your horse or the environment. Be sure to read the labels carefully; Pyrothrin is extracted from a flower, whereas organophosphates or insect growth regulators (IGR) are neurotoxic chemicals that kill insects. IGR’s are toxic to humans and animals and should be avoided. Also, be aware if your horse has a reaction to the fly spray, usually indicated by skin reactions, they may need veterinary attention depending on the severity. Your vet can recommend other products and the current one should be discontinued.

Some biological insecticides are BTI and Fly Predators. BTI is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that can be added to pond water to kill mosquito larvae without harming other animals. Fly Predators reduce the fly population by killing them in their pupa stage. The Fly Predators do no become pests themselves; they do not bite or sting and they live their life-cycle on the fecal pile eating fly pupa.

Consult with your veterinarian to develop a routine schedule consisting of deworming and Spring and Fall vaccinations. There are vaccines to prevent EEE, WEE, and WNV. Dewormers containing ivermectin and moxidectin can prevent many parasites that flies can transmit. The prevention of insects cannot be controlled a 100%, but with proper use of preventive medicine the viruses and parasites they spread can be controlled.

By Maegen Brown CVT, Feb 22 2016 04:14PM

We all want to be sure our hoses are feeling their best. Here is a simple checklist to give you some ideas of what to look for, so you can quickly access whether your horse may be having a problem

1. Your horse should be standing in a normal comfortable position. If you notice they are not weight bearing or shifting their weight excessively, they are may be lame. A more subtle indicator of lameness is “toe pointing”, where they are weight bearing but they place the lame foot or leg further front to relieve some of the pressure.

2. Make sure your horse is at a healthy weight. You really want to be sure you check when winter comes around and they may be hiding under blankets. An easy way to tell if they are at a good weight is to run your hand along their ribs, you should be able to feel them without pressing too hard but they should not be protruding. It is recommended they be between 4 and 6 on the body condition scale which runs 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese).

3. Your horse should be bright and alert as you approach them. If your horse is dull or lethargic that can indicate something is wrong. If your horse is showing abnormal behavior it is always good to take their temperature.

4. Know your horse’s personality; are they bold or are they shy? Knowing the regular behavior will help alert you when they are off.

5. Make sure there are no abnormal discharges from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, genitalia, or anus. If you note an abnormal discharge be sure to note the color and roughly how much; so that you can communicate that to your veterinarian.

6. Check your horse’s breath; it should smell earthy. If you smell a rotten or sour smell it could indicate a tooth problem and should be seen by your veterinarian.

7. Check your horse’s skin and coat. Their skin can sometimes become dry and flaky and have a dull coat that can indicate a nutritional problem. Also, you want to check for any cuts and scrapes or possible fungal infections.

8. Be aware of your horses breathing; it should be a quiet effortless action. Concern arises when they wheeze or cough excessively. Respiratory rates will increase with exercise but be aware for abnormalities like heaving.

9. Appetite and water consumption should be monitored. If your horse goes off feed and is not drinking consult your veterinarian right away.

Again, this is just a short list that covers some of the basics. There are many more symptoms and behaviors that can be looked for or monitored. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned or unsure of something.

Maegen Brown BS, CVT

By Maegen Brown CVT, Feb 16 2016 05:01PM

Winter is pretty hard on everyone, it just seems to make everything a bit more difficult, including hoof care. It’s always best to be in good communication with your farrier about shoeing or trimming needs. Planning ahead for inclement weather is essential, you may want a certain type of shoe for riding at the present time, but if snow is a possibility in the next few weeks before your next appointment it may be best to consider what options will benefit you in the snow and ice. It’s best to avoid ice entirely; however, if it is unavoidable winter proofing your barn area is a good idea. Use a pet-safe salt or sand, you could even use wood chips or ash to try and get traction. Also, be sure you are removing manure, frozen fecal balls can be hazards. Uneven frozen ground can also pose as a threat to your horses; if you can keep them off of the choppy surface that is great, if not be sure they are not out running around increasing their chances of injury. Unfortunately we cannot keep our horses locked away from all the dangers that winter presents us with. Horses need to be exercised; movement stimulates circulation which is vital to good health.

There are shoeing options that can provide good traction, but you do not want to get so much traction that it inhibits their natural gait. Studs and borium can be very helpful but they can put extra stress on the hocks and stifles as well. Most owners like to remove their horse’s shoes to avoid the “snowballing” effect. Others have elected to keep the shoes on and try to use a non-stick spray; this only works until it gets washed off. Your best line of defense against snowballs is a good hoof pick. So depending whether or not your horse requires shoes based on their individual hoof quality; you can base your decisions on that. Hoof growth slows in the winter and the farrier will not have to be out as often; however, regular trimming is still important, as too much length can encourage snow accumulation.

Most horses naturally develop a hard hoof in the winter and do not require shoes; for those horses with bad hooves, there are many supplements that can help the hooves be stronger. If you are not sure which one might be best for your horse, your veterinarian or farrier may have some suggestions. Vitamins A and E are very important, so be sure to have your hay tested and check your feed analysis to be sure your horse is getting all the nutrients it needs. If your feed and hay are good quality, chances are you do not need to supplement much if at all.

Winter brings harsh conditions, but there are some benefits to the cold that help the health of your horse’s hooves. Such as, less bacteria which reduces the chances of thrush and canker. Also, there is less humidity which can cause hooves to flare, making them brittle and more likely to chip.

It is essential that hooves be cared for properly, so it is always best to have a good farrier with extensive knowledge that can help you and your horse stay happy and safe during the winter.

Maegen Brown BS, CVT

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