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Springtime checklist

By Daniel H.Grove, DVM - April 1st, 2018

AskTheVetSpringtime is here. The weather should be getting better, the days are getting longer. So hopefully this gives us more time for playing with our horses. This month, I have a checklist for spring.

1)Coggin’s test. With showing and traveling coming up, it is a good time to renew your annual Coggin’s test. It is needed for some shows, travel across state lines and even at some boarding facilities.

2)Vaccines. This is a good time to get those spring vaccines done. You especially want to booster those diseases, like West Nile disease, that are spread by mosquitoes, as the mosquito population will be out soon. Remember your core vaccines: Eastern and Western Encephalitis, West Nile, tetanus, and rabies.

Joint Supplements

By Daniel H.Grove, D.V.M. - March 1st, 2018

AskTheVetJoint supplements are always a hot topic. Most people are concerned about the athletic performance of their horses and anything they can do to keep them going at their maximum performance level. This month I am going to discuss the most common ingredients, how they are given, and what we think they do.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA). HA is found naturally throughout the body. It is used to improve the lubricity (viscosity) of the joint fluid and to reduce inflammation. Cartilage in the joint is like a sponge. The joint fluid fills it up and pressure from weight on the joint expels the fluid. If the fluid is more viscous or thicker, it is harder to expel from the cartilage, and therefore absorbs more concussion. Inflammation makes the joint fluid more watery or less viscous. HA aims to combat that. It is commonly given intravenously (IV), intraarticularly (IA, or in the joint), and orally.

Horse care and the internet

By Daniel H. Grove, DVM - February 1st, 2018

AskTheVetAnyone who knows me knows I use and enjoy the internet. It has improved many things in our society. In veterinary medicine, it is used for telemedicine, sharing radiographs, and quick, easy access to continuing education and research work, just to name a few things. With that being said, there are situations that come up where horse owners turn to the internet for their equine needs, and I wanted to give some warnings on a couple of common situations.

Social media. It is a part of a tremendous number of people’s lives. People often turn to social media to ask questions from their online friends from all over the world. I even try to help out where I can with people asking questions in different groups online. This arena is a difficult one to navigate as a professional trying to help horse owners. We as professionals are required to have a valid veterinary client-patient relationship to offer a diagnosis or treatment recommendation. If we have not examined the animal, we do not have this. Some people may get frustrated with ambiguity or even lack of answering certain things because we can’t. We have not seen the horse. We should not be expected to put our necks out there to open ourselves to the liability if something does go wrong.

Let’s flush out facts about ‘choke’

By Daniel H. Grove, DVM - January 1st, 2018

AskTheVetChoke in the horse is a common problem we see in equine practice. We were asked about choke and how to prevent it, so let’s discuss what it is, what you can do, what we as veterinarians can do and some tips on prevention and management.

Before we go any further, let’s define what choke is in horses. It is when the esophagus gets obstructed, usually with feed material. The esophagus is the tube that carries masticated (“chewed up”) food and saliva from the mouth to the stomach. When the esophagus is blocked, saliva and food material back up in the back of the oral cavity in the area called the pharynx. When this occurs, the common clinical signs are copious amounts of fluid mixed with feed draining from the nose, a desire to eat but not actually eating, cough, extending of the neck and lowering the head.

The pre-purchase exam

By Daniel M.Grove, DVM - December 1st, 2017

AskTheVetThe pre-purchase exam is done when looking at a horse to buy, and you are looking for a professional, objective opinion on a horse prior to purchasing it.  Each practitioner is most likely going to use their own method to do it and will include or exclude certain things based on their training and experience.  The way I do my exams, they are broken down into two distinct different sections.

The Physical

The first part of the exam, I start with an in-depth physical exam.  I start at the nose and work my way back.  I look in the mouth to check the gums.  Next, I run fingers over the teeth to check for current floating status.  I move next to the eyes.  First, I check the menace response which involves moving toward the eye to see if the horse blinks.  After that, I use my ophthalmoscope to do an exam of the back of the eye, called the fundus.  I examine the optic nerve and the retina.  I move to the ears, looking for parasites or masses.

The diagnosis of pain

By Daniel H. Grove, DVM - November 1st, 2017

AskTheVetLameness in horses is one of the most common issues for which an ambulatory practitioner is called. Horses are athletes that work hard and use four limbs to get that work done. Just as with human athletes, horses get injured. One thing that makes diagnosing the problem more challenging is that they do not tell us exactly where it hurts. This month, let us go through the basics of the lameness exam and some of the more common tools available to us to diagnose the problem.

The lameness exam usually involves first determining which limb(s) is/are sore. This usually involves jogging the horse, as this a symmetrical two-beat gait. Once the limb is identified, now we have to determine where the pain is coming from. Commonly, practitioners start with the hoof and work their way up. The hoof can be visually examined, palpated, and pain can be elicited with hoof testers. Next, you can move up the limb checking for swelling or heat. Often times in the back of the pastern or fetlock, you can feel for an increased digital pulse. This can be an indicator of inflammation in the hoof.

The ‘to-do list’ when Fall arrives

By Daniel M. Grove, DVM - October 1st, 2017

AskTheVetFall is a great time of year. Temperatures start to decrease, the leaves start to change, and the major holidays are right around the corner. Before life gets away from you with family, don’t forget about your horses. In the fall, there are some routine things that you should be looking at.

This time of year, showing is usually still going strong. In order to keep your athlete ready for the task, make sure you are up to date on vaccines and deworming. In the spring, most people get their major vaccines done. Influenza and Rhinopneumonitis vaccines work well, but not for very long. It is estimated that the antibody levels they stimulate subside in seven to eight months. Therefore, it is usually recommended to give a six-month booster in the fall for these two ailments. This vaccine is typically much cheaper than the ones in the spring. There are intramuscular and intranasal products available. Discuss with your veterinarian what will work best for you.

Understanding EPM

By Daniel M. Grove, DVM - September 1st, 2017

AskTheVetEquine Protozoal Myeloenchephalitis (EPM) is a neurologic disease in horses. It can cause a debilitating disease that can lead a horse down a path of changes that can be difficult to diagnose. In this column, let’s discuss what causes it, how we diagnose it, and how we treat it.

EPM is currently known to be caused by one of two protozoans, Sarcocystis neurona and Neosporoa hughesi. A protozoa is a single-celled organism. S. neurona is the most common cause, and we will focus on this particular organism. In the normal life cycle of the organism, the definitive host — or the one where reproduction of the protozoa occurs — is the opossum. The organism also has an intermediate host which can be a variety of animals, such as certain armadillos, racoons and skunks.

AskTheVetThe last year in California has been an excellent year for rainfall. For most of the state, the drought has been declared over. With the extra moisture, plants thrived and grew, but so did the bugs. Flies are buzzing us — and our horses. With them comes a nasty skin condition known as cutaneous habronemiasis, more commonly called “summer sores”.

Hot topic: Summer’s first heat wave

by Dr. Daniel H. Grove, DVM - July 1st, 2017

AskTheVetSummer is here and we are experiencing our first heat wave of the season and it is hot, hot, hot!  I think this is a great time to revisit a couple of different subjects we have talked about in the past, dealing with the heat and traveling with our horses.

Let’s start with tips for the heat. In the hot weather, there are some key points to keep in mind to help your horse through the extreme temperatures:

1. Provide access to plenty of fresh, cool, clean water. Horses can consume large quantities of water in the heat to aid in cooling and staying hydrated. Give it to them!