Vaccination against various diseases must be one of the most common equine veterinary procedures, certainly in the developed world and, as an ambulatory vet, it’s something I do almost every day. The frequency and, in most cases, ease with which this is practiced can lead to complacency with regard to its importance and certainly doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the science behind it - something which has been baffling and bewildering veterinary students for centuries!
Anatomy and function of the skin The skin is the largest organ of the body and it serves to provide environmental protection, help maintain body temperature, allow sensory perception and plays a role in the immune system. Skin consists of a superficial layer, the epidermis, and a deep layer of connective tissue, the dermis. Hence, dermatology is the branch of medicine dealing with the skin. Underneath the dermis is a fat layer, which acts as a shock absorber and provides insulation, while muscle fibres within the fatty tissue allow the skin to move, for example, when shivering.
Winter is well and truly upon us, and these colder months can be particularly tough on our equine friends. One particular condition that all of us are familiar with is arthritis. It can affect us as well as our pets and the colder weather often exacerbates this condition. In this article, Dr Sarah Van Dyk from WestVETS Animal Hospital and Equine Reproduction Centre gives an overview of how arthritis affects older horses, the signs they may show, its diagnosis and treatment options. What is arthritis?
Finding lumps, bumps and swelling on the skin of horses is a very common problem for owners. In this article, veterinarian Dr Rachel Kent sorts the lumps from the bumps and explains which ones are of concern and require veterinary treatment, versus those which may be left alone.
Tying up is a broad term that describes a wide range of muscle disorders in horses and one of the most frustrating of all problems affecting equine athletes. Ranging from stiffness after exercise to intense pain, and an inability to stand and bear weight, what was once thought of as a single condition is now known to comprise a number of specific disorders, some of which are inherited.
This month, Dr Adrian Owen, a member of Equine Dental Vets, talks about the common injuries caused by poorly designed or maintained fencing. He encourages every horse owner to consider how they can protect their horses from serious, and even fatal, injuries, with a few simple changes, including electrified fencing.
Welcome to Part One of a new three-part series on respiratory conditions, presented by the team at WestVETS Animal Hospitals & Equine Reproduction Centre. This month, Sarah Van Dyk outlines the anatomy of the respiratory tract and respiratory conditions affecting the equine athlete. Correct diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions is integral to our horses performing at their best and maintaining long-term health.
This is the third and final part of the series on respiratory conditions of the horse. In March, Part One focused on the airway anatomy and clinical signs of horses with respiratory disease. Last month, Part Two focused on infectious respiratory conditions. This month, we discuss non-infectious respiratory diseases. This is by no means an exhaustive list of conditions that may affect the horse, but are those that we see most commonly in practice. With some of these non-infectious conditions, the horse may appear normal at rest and is only affected during exercise.
Contrary to what the common name may lead you to believe, swamp cancer is not a cancer, but is caused by an aquatic fungus. The disease is called Pythiosis and is caused by the organism Pythium insidiosum. It is a plant parasite that causes an infection of the skin and can quickly cause large lesions with devastating consequences. It normally lives on water vegetation or organic debris in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Other common names are “summer sores” and “phycomycosis”.
We’ve all had a case of the hiccups, but did you know that your horse can actually get the hiccups as well? Equine hiccups are more commonly referred to as ‘Thumps’, but are scientifically known as Synchronous Diaphragmatic Flutter (SDF). A horse with thumps will typically present with muscle twitching in their flanks, which are caused by abnormal contractions of the diaphragm. These twitches are normally at regular intervals and can even produce a ‘thump’ noise upon contraction, hence the common name.