Aged and unwanted
Treating arthritis naturally
Equine Gastric Ulceration Syndrome
Equine Worm Control
Sale horses - Rescuing or prolonging suffering?
Most common issues with penned horses:
Grey Horse Melanoma
If the tumour is small and not causing the horse any problems, they are best left alone and surgically removing it can activate the cells which can increase the likely hood of the tumour regrowing bigger and more aggressive than before surgery. Many small melanoma’s can hang around for years not changing or growing very slowly and its best to monitor your horse to check for frequent changes in size, shape and appearance.
If your horse has a melanoma which does need treatment there are a number of different options.
Surgery: should only be considered where the mass is less than 3cm in diameter and in an area which isn’t close to vital nerves and vessels. Larger masses can be extremely problematic because they commonly reoccur more aggressive and in clusters which can cause a real mess.
Cryotherapy: This is freezing with liquid nitrogen. In most cases a large part of the mass is surgically removed first and then the rest frozen two to three times. This procedure does need repeating to keep the tumour to a manageable size.
Cimetidine Therapy: As the founder of Save a Horse Australia Horse Rescue and Sanctuary I have seen many grey horses with melanoma and this is the treatment that we prefer. It is one of the most promising advances in the treatment for grey horse melanoma in the world. It was originally used as a human anti-ulcer drug called Tagament. Cimetidine provides the greatest benefit to horses with melanoma’s which are actively increasing in size and number. It doesn’t have much benefit to slow growing masses. The drug treats the melanoma by modifying the portion of the immune system that allows melanomas to grow unchecked and stimulates the cell mediation immune response needed to fight the tumour.
Currently there isn’t any way of knowing what horses will respond to the drug and what horse won’t. A good response to treatment is typically assessed by a decrease of approximately 50% in the size and number of the melanomas with no further progression of the grey horse disease for several years. Changes in the size and number of the melanomas during treatment should occur after 2 – 7 weeks of treatment. The good news is that the drug isn’t overly expensive and can be purchased through any veterinarian.
Vaccination: There is research continuing in the USA for the development of a tissue based vaccine made from the horses own tumour cells which will combat the melanoma and clinical studies have seen success for melanomas on the face, body and legs but masses on the tail sheath and along the jugular have not seen the same success. I’m not sure when or if this vaccination will be available in Australia.
If your horse has grey horse melanomas it is extremely important to keep him as healthy as possible taking on a natural diet and supplement plan, this will help maintain a strong immune system. Feeding your horse as natural as possible is the most important factor which can prove quite difficult at times due to horses needing a large grazing area with access to different plants growing on different soils. In a paddocked environment it is important to supplement with a good quality herbal vitamin and mineral supplement. Please note that this is different from commercial vitamin and mineral supplements and its best to contact your local equine herbal suppler for a natural alternative. Yatala Produce in Yatala is an herbal suppler and can help with a natural herbal blend for your horse.
Melanomas are not a death sentence for your horse and with the correct management you will have your equine friend with you for a very long time with the lumps causing no problems; however they can sit dormant for years and without warning can turn malignant. Always have your horse assessed by a professional veterinarian. This article is not a substitute for professional veterinarian advice.
Head Shaking Syndrome
Old doesn’t mean poor
Spring Time Laminitis
Laminitis is the name given to this serious hoof disease referring to damage to the laminae which is the connective tissue connecting the hoof bones to the hoof wall. Laminitis causes rotation of the pedal (coffin) bone within the hoof, sinking down, rotating forward and rubbing on the sole causing extreme pain and in some cases penetrating through the sole. It can damage a number of blood vessels and tissue due to bone movement and without treatment can cause many serious permanent changes to the hoof growth mechanisms, including cracks to the coronet band, flattened or convex sole, rings in the hoof and separation between the sole and hoof wall.
There are a number of different causes of laminitis, spring grass (excess carbohydrates and Nitrogen) being a main culprit and with the warmer weather approaching, much needed winter rain and lush green grasses we must monitor the grazing habits of our equine companions protecting them from the hidden dangers in their paddocks.
Feed related laminitis will happen if there is an over flow of starch in the large intestine which will occur when the horse eats too much lush green grass or from grain. Fat ponies, crested horses and horses with a history of laminitis are more prone to an attack but laminitis isn’t limited to such horses. As the president of Save a Horse Australia Horse Rescue and Sanctuary we have also treated underweight thoroughbreds with acute laminitis.
Spring grass is also low in Magnesium which is a vital mineral in helping your horse metabolize sugars so a supplement such as magnesium oxide should be provided if your horse has lush pasture. If your horse is prone to laminitis a daily supplement of Founder Guard which contains Virginiamycin will reduce the lactic acid in the hindgut killing the bacteria causing laminitis.
Prevention is always better than the cure so it’s important to monitor you horses grazing patterns in spring and give correct supplements but what do you do if your horse starts to show signs of laminitis and what are the signs to look out for?
Symptoms: one of the first and most common symptoms of laminitis is lameness. You horse will be reluctant to move forward, standing so that his weight is taken off the affected hooves and laminitis is more likely to occur in the front hooves. He will shift weight from one hoof to the other hoof, his hoof will feel warmer than normal and he will respond to sole pressure. When picking up one hoof he will be reluctant due to not being able to bare all of his weight on the other hoof.
If your horse is showing signs of laminitis you must seek professional treatment by a trained veterinarian immediately. Laminitis must be treated in the early stages to prevent permanent damage and even death.
Treatment: at the first onset of laminitis take your horse out of any lush pasture, lock him up in a stable or yard with soft bedding and reduce the amount of carbohydrates from his diet. If there are changes in the hoof temperature place his affected hooves in cold water, this will help increase blood flow. Lack of blood flow to the hooves restricts oxygen and amino acids reaching the laminae causing it to breakdown and with limited or no blood supply to the hooves will result in the horse having to be euthanatized. Your vet will prescribe your horse an anti-inflammatory drug, bute being the most common which will offer pain relief, reduce inflammation and increase blood flow.
Heart-bar shoes are excellent in acute cases. They reduce sole pressure and help limit pedal bone rotation but it’s extremely important that they are made especially for your horses hooves because an improperly fitted shoe will aggravate the hoof causing pain. Contact a proper corrective farrier who makes his shoes from scratch to fit heart-bar shoes on your horse. At Save a Horse Australia Horse Rescue and Sanctuary we use John Whitely and Tim Heeb.
Please note that this article is not a substitute for a consultation with a veterinarian and laminitis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Call your vet if you suspect that your horse has laminitis.