Please see this page about Your Horse's Vital Signs!!!
Dwarfism in Miniature Horses - Genetic questions regarding Dwarfism in Miniatures with John Eberth...
can be toxic to horses (and animals)!
Danger - Plastic Bags -I was talking to a friend who mentioned she was having problems with neighbor kids feeding her minis & it made me remember. About 30 years ago- my first horse, a full size mare came down with colic. The vet did everything possible that long ago, but she died. The autopsy showed she had eaten a small "fold over top" plastic sandwich bag & it had opened in her stomach, filled with hay & caused a blockage. We don't know where the bag came from. Maybe in her hay, you never know what is blown in the fields & baled in the hay. I mean we all peel off a flake & throw it to the horses without carefully going through it. It could have been some friendly neighbors bringing treats. I see people bringing treats to horses all the time in baggies. I just want to warn you to watch for these killers. You can get the one horse that is so picky not to eat its feed & it would probably gobble down something that you would never think it would eat- & die from.
Cause Cause - Strangles is the most important infectious disease affecting horses. It is caused by a bacterium, Streptococcus equi.
Signs- Typically, horses suffering from strangles have pus discharging from the nostrils and swellings (abscesses) forming in the lymph glands under the jaw. These abscesses often burst and exude a thick yellow pus. Affected horses can have fever, be depressed and may stop eating. Most animals recover, but horses that contract even a mild case of strangles must be isolated and removed from training or heavy work for up to 3 months. In some cases the infection can cause chronic illness or even death. Typically, horses suffering from strangles have pus discharging from the nostrils and swellings (abscesses) forming in the lymph glands under the jaw. These abscesses often burst and exude a thick yellow pus. Affected horses can have fever, be depressed and may stop eating. Most animals recover, but horses that contract even a mild case of strangles must be isolated and removed from training or heavy work for up to 3 months. In some cases the infection can cause chronic illness or even death.
Colic Emergencies- Colic! A dreaded term for anyone who has had to deal with a serious bout of colic in his or her horse. This disruption of the horse's natural digestive process can range in severity from a case of simple discomfort to a truly and agonizingly life threatening condition. The purpose of this information sheet is to give the reader some perspective into this disorder, which can occur in any horse, and provide some insights as to how colic can be managed. Please contact your Vet if you are not experienced in treating Colic! This article was written for a full size horse!
What is Colic?- Colic is a general term which applies to two types of disruption of the horse's normal intestinal processes. Depending on the cause of the colic, the horse may be experiencing a digestive spasm (temporary hyperactivity of the digestive tract) or his intestinal activity may be reduced.
Increased activity colic, or
Decreased activity colic, or
Typical Signs and Symptoms- Most horses will show some restlessness or uneasiness as the digestive process starts to go awry. As the discomfort increases, a horse may paw, look at his flanks, nip at his flanks, kick at his abdomen, keep getting up and lying down, roll or stretch into odd positions, stand and rest in odd positions, rock back against a solid object and repeatedly change weight on the hind legs.
Oftentimes the first noticeable difference between a resting horse and a colicing horse who is laying quietly on the ground is unusual and frequent jaw movements such as partial yawns, rocking of the lower jaw, raising of the upper lip and curling of the tongue when the mouth is open. As the colic intensifies, the symptoms usually become more pronounced. As the heart and breathing rates increase and the inner eyelids become congested (show a brick-brown to a bright red color), you are rapidly approaching a terminal situation.
Physical findings around the barn or pasture can also provide clues to a colic condition in what otherwise appears to simply be a lackluster horse. These signs include evidence of unusual chewing activity, unusually hard or runny manure, lack of normal quantities of manure and signs that the horse has laid down and moved around to relieve gut pain (flatened areas in dirt, sand or bedding with horizontal marks caused as he moved his legs around to get comfortable).
The differences in symptoms between increased and decreased activity colics generally run as follows:
If you hear significant amounts of gas rumbling when you place your ear to the horse's abdomen and the horse is passing manure, you are most likely seeing an increased activity colic. Unless the horse has already gone into shock or is passing a great deal of diarrhea, the outcome is usually favorable when proper care is provided.
If you hear decreased gut sounds, the horse is not passing manure and the horse appears to be in acute pain, these are usually "red alert" symptoms of a decreased activity colic and a veterinarian's assistance, and the medications he/she can provide, are probably of vital importance. In cases of sand or dust impaction, the horse may show early signs of diarrhea but all other signs are of decreased activity. In this instance, only the fluids are making it past the sand or dust obstruction.
If you suspect sand or dust in your horse, take a zip-lock food storage bag, turn it inside out over your hand and pick up two or three relatively fresh and clean manure balls. Turn the bag right side out again and squish up the balls. (If the manure balls feel unusually hard when you squish them, you probably have a dehydration impaction rather than a sand problem.) Fill the bag about half full with water and pin or clip the bag to hang on a post or wall. After a few minutes inspect the bag and see if sand or dust has settled out of the manure. Discuss these findings with your vet and let him/her see your manure test when he/she arrives.
Before the Colic Occurs- There are several things which you can do to improve your horse's chances
Standard Practices for Colic- Assess the situation. What has recently happened (the probable cause of the colic)?
Take vital signs. (see this page aboutYour Horse's Vital Signs)
If things don't look good, and especially if it appears that you are approaching "red alert" conditions (as agreed upon by your vet and you), immediately phone your vet with your findings.
Don't medicate the horse unless it is part of your veterinarian's "standing orders."
Keep the animal quiet and try to prevent him from hurting himself. He may need to lie down or even roll from time to time to help relieve pressure and move gas bubbles. If he is not thrashing, this is not necessarily bad and if done between walking sessions, it may even be beneficial.
Quiet walking for 10 to 20 minutes per hour may help distract the horse from the pain
and particularly in the case of an impaction, can help "move things along," but
Do not let the horse eat hay. However, providing a warm bran mash(Note-2) with ground up aspirin or phenylbutazone (bute) can often get the animal through without use of heavy drugs. (Don't give your horse anything orally, however, unless it is part of your veterinarian's "standing orders.") If within 30 minutes of eating the bran mash the horse is not showing signs of improvement, call your veterinarian.
If aspirin or bute is part of your "standing orders" and the horse will not eat the bran mash, you can either administer bute paste (like administering a wormer EXCEPT you only administer a small portion of the tube according to label directions) or grind the aspirin or bute into a powder, mix with a small dollop of honey and daub the mixture with your finger into the corner of the horse's mouth.
We must repeat: The administration of any drugs, including aspirin, should be done only after consultation with your vet or under "standing orders" as these medications will affect the appearance of your horse to the veterinarian during the exam and in some cases may impact what drugs the veterinarian can use once he/she arrives.
If You Can't Reach the Vet!- If you suspect a colic and the symptoms all indicate that a digestive problem is occurring and is getting worse, you should always contact your veterinarian. However there may be cases where you cannot reach a vet, or perhaps you in a situation where you don't even have a phone! The horse may well need some relief from pain so that his intestinal muscles can relax and the gas or obstruction can resume its journey. In such circumstances the following suggestions are offered by James Naviaux, DVM, in his book Horses in Health and Disease:
Offer a bran mash with aspirin and attempt to reach any large animal vet that you can.
If veterinary care is not available within 4 to 8 hours, the careful administration of 16
oz. of Milk of Magnesia with a "turkey basting syringe" is indicated. This can
be done by holding the horse's head slightly elevated while
Note: If your horse experiences sand or dust colics, it may be more appropriate to administer psyllium mucilloid instead of bran, however the choice depends a great deal on your horse's history and the actual symptoms which you are seeing (e.g., your horse is passing manure but it doesn't look right, contains a lot of sand, and the horse is uncomfortable). Again, the value of "what to do" discussions with your vet and establishing "standing orders" in advance of such emergencies cannot be overstated!
Prevention- The best cure for colic is prevention!
Manage your horse's diet. Give him good quality feed with adequate roughage and avoid sudden changes. Dispose of suspect feed and grains. Don't let other people feed ANYTHING to your horse without your knowledge and permission.
Keep grains secure and out of reach
Provide the horse with regular exercise, either voluntary (e.g., in an active pasture) or controlled (e.g., turnouts and/or riding).
Don't over water a very hot horse. Give him enough water for about 12 swallows and then come back again later. (If you are riding the horse, as out on trail, you can reasonably increase this intake if you are continuing your ride after the water stop.)
Make sure your horse is drinking properly, especially during unusual weather changes. Many horses tend to reduce their drinking during cooler months, then during an unusually warm day they can sweat unnoticed and become dehydrated.
Make sure your horse has adequate water; that automatic waterers are working, that buckets and barrels are full of fresh water and that they aren't contaminated with manure or a dead mouse, etc., which would cause your horse to avoid drinking.
When cold weather sets in, wet the feed and provide warmer than air temperature water.
Exercise prevention in the case of horses which tend to ingest dust or sand. Regular doses of psyllium mucilloid can help purge the intestinal tract of sand and dust buildup.
Note 1: Parasites- If you suspect a severe parasite problem, discuss treatment with your veterinarian prior to administering wormers. A sudden influx of "dead worms" in your horse's system can have toxic effects. You may need to provide three wormings, the first two being half doses followed by a full dose.
Note 2: Bran Mashes- We typically use "Vita Bran" or red flaky wheat bran for bran mashes. We put up to a one pound coffee can of bran into a feed tub, add some ground hay and/or shaved carrots for flavor, then add hot water to which a modest amount of molasses has been added to make the mash enticing. We stir the mixture, adding more water a little at a time until it becomes the consistency of sloppy oatmeal. If the mix is too runny or the horse is especially picky, we will add small amounts of grain ration to give it some body, but the mixture should still be moist and slightly "loose". (Count on the horses making a big, sloppy mess when they eat it!)
In the event you don't have red flaky wheat bran, it is suggested using half a box of 100% or 40% "All Bran" cereal. He also recommends 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and if your veterinarian approves or is not available, 10 ground up or dissolved aspirins.(This article was written for full sized horses!)
KBR Horse Health Information, (c) 1997 Lamm's Kickin' Back Ranch and Willis & Sharon Lamm. All rights reserved. Duplication of any of this material for commercial use is prohibited without express written permission. This prohibition is not intended to extend to personal non-commercial use, including sharing with others for safety and learning purposes, provided this copyright notice is attached.
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