Acorn Poisoning in Horses
While many animals in the wild depend on the acorn for their nutritional needs, the acorn poses a toxicity risk to some animals, including horses, cattle, goats, and sheep. Although cattle are much more sensitive to the toxins in acorns than horses, large amounts of ingested acorns can induce severe illness. This is due to the tannic and gallic acids in the acorn, which can cause severe damage to the gastrointestinal system and kidneys.ConstipationAnorexiaColic (pain in the abdomen)Blood in[Read More]
Aflatoxin Poisoning in Horses
Aflatoxins are one of many different types of chemicals that have proven to be toxic to horses, and they can come in many forms. Usually produced by a type of fungus called Aspergillus flavus, aflatoxins have been found in several different types of foodstuffs, usually to the surprise of the horse owner.The Aspergillus mold is a naturally occurring fungus that proliferates in humid conditions, particularly in crops, hay, vegetation, soil, and grains. Aflatoxins primarily affect the liver wh[Read More]
Anemia in Horses
Anemia in horses is defined as low blood volume. There are a variety of different causes of anemia, and it usually occurs secondary to some other health issue the horse may be experiencing.Unusually poor performanceWeaknessLethargyLoss of appetiteDepressionHair loses lusterHeart murmurPale mucous membranes Anemia can be classified as acute (rapid onset) or chronic (persistent or long-lasting). Acute anemia is caused by rapid blood loss, such as with a traumatic injury or ruptured blood vess[Read More]
Anemia in Newborn Foals
Neonatal isoerythyolysis (or NI) is a blood condition found in newborn foals. It manifests itself within the first few days of birth and is the result of a discrepancy between the mare’s blood and that of the foal, whereby the mare develops antibodies to the foal’s blood type. This becomes a problem when the foal drinks the colostrum (first milk) of the mare, which contains these antibodies. These maternal antibodies against the foal’s own blood type then destroy the foal’s blood cells, cau[Read More]
Aneurysm in Horses
An aneurysm is an abnormal ballooning of a weakened arterial wall in the body. If the ballooning becomes big enough, it will burst, leading to massive hemorrhaging and death. An aneurysm has no warning signs; therefore most horses die of the condition before it is diagnosed.The main type of aneurysm seen mostly in horses is the aortic aneurysm. Aortic aneurysms occur when a portion of the aorta, the large artery that comes straight from the heart, develops a thin wall. If enough pressure is[Read More]
Anhidrosis in Horses
Anhidrosis is the inability of a horse to sweat appropriately. It is also called “dry coat” or “non-sweaters,” and is commonly seen in hot, humid areas.A horse may be experiencing anhidrosis if it exhibits any of the following signs:Increased respiratory effort or “puffy” breathing, with little or no sweatingProlonged fever over 105 degrees Fahrenheit after exerciseNo sweating at all, even when sweating would be appropriateDry/flaky skin or areas of hair loss if the condition is chronicDecr[Read More]
Anthrax in Horses
Most people have heard of anthrax; it has been used as a biological weapon and a scare tactic in terrorism attacks during the early 2000s. Anthrax, caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, is an infectious disease, and can prove fatal for horses (or humans, for that matter). There are legal ramifications surrounding anthrax, and when diagnosed, the veterinarian is obligated by law to report it to the appropriate government agency.The signs of anthrax infection depend on how the animal wa[Read More]
Arthritis in Horses
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Autoimmune Disease in Foals
Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is an autosomal (not linked to the chromosomes for sex) recessive genetic disease affecting Arabian foals. These foals cannot produce B and T lymphocytes, which are special types of white blood cells that are vital for a healthy immune system. Without B and T lymphocytes, the immune system cannot fight antigens properly.SCID-affected foals seem normal at birth, but after the first few months of life, they begin to suffer from a variety of infections. [Read More]
Back Pain in Horses
Although not the most common injury in horses, back pain can sometimes be a reason for a horse’s grumpiness and unwillingness to move fluidly. With a range of different causes and a spectrum of the anatomy from which to affect (neck to tail), back injuries can sometimes to be a challenge to diagnose and treat. Back pain usually originates from one of two sources: neurological pain, as in a pinched nerve, and musculoskeletal pain. Both of these types may look the same clinically. Often, a h[Read More]
Blister Beetle Poisoning in Horses
Blister beetles are a type of insect found primarily in the southwest and Midwest regions of the United States. These beetles harbor a very powerful toxin called cantharidin, but, unlike other types of insects, it does not spread this toxin through biting. Adult blister beetles feed on alfalfa flowers and crops, the same crops used for horse and cattle feed, and when the crops are harvested the beetles are often killed in the process, contaminating the crops with their body parts and fluids[Read More]
Blood Disorder in Horses
Hyperlipemia is a blood disorder that occurs in overweight horses, as well as some donkeys. Horses with this condition have an abnormally high amount of fat in their blood. And although it only affects a small percentage of the world's equine population, Hyperlipemia is a very serious disorder that has a high rate of mortality among those affected. For this reason, it is important to know the symptoms of this condition, so that you may seek immediate veterinary care for your horse if it is [Read More]
Born With No Anus or Rectum in Foals
Atresia ani is a rare congenital condition in which a foal is born without an anus. It also may cause part or all of the rectum to be missing. This condition can vary in severity. Surgery is the only option for foals born with this condition and the outcome depends on how badly the foal’s gastrointestinal tract is affected.Foals with this condition display signs such as:Colic-like symptoms (e.g., abdominal pain)Straining to pass a bowel movementSwelling of space where anus should be (if rec[Read More]
Botfly Infection in Horses
Botflies are an unfortunate byproduct of caring for horses. They are a frequent source of irritation for horses, especially during the hot months of late summer, when these flies seem to be always around. The larvae of the botfly is referred to as a bot, and a horse that is infested with botfly larvae is said to have bots. The botfly as an adult insect does not actually bite or cause direct pain to the horse, but begins by laying eggs on the outer body of the horse – on the skin of the inne[Read More]
Bracken Poisoning in Horses
Bracken is a type of fern that is found throughout the world, notably in areas with a more temperate climate. Horses will typically avoid eating bracken, but if the normal grazing grounds are lacking in edible plants, they will eat bracken fronds, becoming ill as a result. Fortunately, bracken fern toxicity is fairly rare in horses, since they need to eat very large quantities of it to become adversely affected.  The entire plant is considered toxic.[Read More]
Brain and Spinal Cord Infection in Horses
Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis, or EPM for short, is a disease that affects a horse's nervous system, commonly displayed as incoordination of the limbs, muscle atrophy, or lameness. EPM appears to be a condition strictly located in the western hemisphere. EPM is a serious disease but signs can sometimes develop slowly and be difficult to recognize. However, once diagnosed, this disease should be treated as soon as possible to prevent further neurological damage.Since EPM is a neurologic[Read More]
Broken Bones in Horses
Treating fractures in horses used to be quite difficult, and for that reason most afflicted horses were euthanized. Fortunately, as time has progressed so has technology, making it easier to treat these types of cases.The symptoms of a fracture are dependent on the area of the fracture; among them:Severe pain in or around the fractureSwelling in the affected areaStrange posturingLifting the affected leg off the groundStrange angle of affected legFailure to place weight on affected leg or an[Read More]
Bryony Plant Poisoning in Horses
Bryonia dioica, or bryony, is an invasive plant that is known to climb buildings, trellises, fences, barns, stables, homes, trees, and even over other hedges. It is most often found in hedgerows and open wooded areas, and grows most vivaciously in areas with a temperate climate. In the U.S., the bryony plant is more commonly found in the Northwest states.Both white bryony and black bryony are known for being highly toxic to the intestinal tract. While the whole plant is toxic to a horse (i.[Read More]
Buttress Foot in Horses
Buttress foot is a condition that occurs in some horses, leaving them lame for a period. Also called pyramidal disease, buttress foot causes pain and swelling in the front of the coronary band -- the part of the leg where the hoof growth begins.. Also, horses who suffer from this stand differently than they normally would, indicating that they are experiencing a great deal of pain in their foot or leg. Recognizing and treating buttress foot is important, as it can change the shape of the fo[Read More]
Cerebella Abiotrophy in Horses
Cerebellar abiotrophy is a degenerative disease affecting the cerebellum, the portion of the horse’s brain responsible for basic balance and coordination. This condition is generally associated with purebred Arab horses or those that have Arab blood.Very little is currently known about cerebellar abiotrophy, although veterinarians do know the disease affects cells in the cerebellum, causing loss of motor function and incoordination in horses.Cerebellar abiotrophy most frequently affects foa[Read More]
Choke in Horses
Choke is one of the most common emergencies seen in horses. Choke occurs when there is either a partial or complete obstruction of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that takes the food from the mouth to the stomach of the horse. This is different from “choking” humans, as horses are still able to breathe because their trachea (windpipe) is not affected. When horses are choked, they are unable to move food or water from their mouth to their stomach.Horses experiencing choke may exhibi[Read More]
Coital Exanthema in Horses
Sometimes referred to as genital horse pox, equine coital exanthema is a sexually transmissible disease in horses caused by a herpes virus. Typically, this disease is transferred from horse to horse through sexual contact, but it can also be transferred through unsanitary medical practices, such as when a veterinarian examines multiple horses without changing the examination gloves or instruments between patients. It is for this reason that even horses that have not yet been bred can acquir[Read More]
Colic in Horses
The word “colic” in horse terms simply means abdominal pain. The source of the pain could originate from any location within the horse’s abdomen, from the intestines to an organ such as the stomach or liver. Most commonly, colic occurs due to part of the intestines becoming impacted or from being in an abnormal placement within the abdomen.Colic is one of the most common emergencies seen in horses, which is why it is very important to understand what it is, the common colic signs, and what [Read More]
Colitis-X in Horses
Colitis-X is a serious intestinal condition that is not very well understood. Often fatal, its cause is unknown although it appears to affect horses under stress such as stress caused by transport or surgery. This is often a catch-all term used when a more definitive diagnosis for the cause of the diarrhea has not been found.This condition progresses extremely fast, with severe watery diarrhea being the most obvious clinical sign. The fluid loss from the diarrhea is so severe that dehydrati[Read More]
Combined Immunodeficiency Disease (CID) in Horses
Combined immunodeficiency disease, or equine CID, as it is commonly called, is a deficiency of the immune system, a known genetic disorder that is found in young Arabian foals. It may also be found in horses that have been crossbred with Arabians.In most cases, foals that are born with this genetic disorder appear and behave normally at birth. Their immune systems function normally for about six to eight weeks, but around the second month of life, the symptoms of CID begin to become apparen[Read More]
Conjunctivitis in Horses
Conjunctivitis in horses is swelling of the conjunctiva, or pink mucus membranes of the eye. The swelling can be caused by an infection or have other non-infectious causes. Conjunctivitis is most commonly seen in young horses, but it can occur at any age. It is important to note that any abnormality with a horse's eye should be considered a medical emergency and a veterinarian should be called immediately. Eye issues can become serious quickly.A horse with conjunctivitis may experience the [Read More]
Constipation and Colic in Horses
Constipation is an abnormal condition that is recognized by the body's inability to expel food that has been digested. In horses, the term “impacted” is used to describe constipation. The inability to defecate may be due to an underlying medical condition that requires treatment, but may also be related to stress or poor diet. Large amounts of digesta become impacted most commonly in the large colon of the horse. This leads to abdominal pain and becomes a medical condition called impaction [Read More]
Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) in Horses
Contagious equine metritis (CEM) is an extremely contagious venereal disease that is acquired primarily via breeding. While this disease can be carried by either mares or stallions, it is the mare that suffers the ill effects of the infection. Stallions do not show any symptoms of CEM, but mares often will have a thick discharge from the vagina, and will be unable to conceive during the point at which the infection is active.This is generally a non-lethal disease, and even if left untreated[Read More]
Contracted Tendons in Horses
Contracted tendons refer to a condition that is seen in very young foals. This is a condition that is present at birth and is an autosomal recessive genetic trait. It is one of the most common musculoskeletal problems seen in foals and can vary in severity from very mild to severe enough to prevent the foal from standing and nursing. Treatment and prognosis depend on the level of severity of this condition.This is a congenital condition, appearing at birth. Those affected will be unable to [Read More]
Corneal Ulcer in Horses
Eye ulcers are abrasions or scratches of the clear part of the eye called the cornea. The cornea is the clear part of the eye that covers the iris and pupil. It allows light through so your horse can see. There are no blood vessels in the cornea, which slows down healing because there is no way for white blood cells and other healing cells to reach injuries.The eye is extremely sensitive, so a corneal ulcer can be very painful. They are often caused by trauma (such as scratching the eye) or[Read More]