TORRENTIAL RAIN EQUALS RAIN SCALD AND GREASY HEEL

With the torrential rain and dismal weather we have seen in the past month, cases of rain scald and greasy heel will be a common appearance once again. Let’s take a closer look at both of these conditions.
Rain scald (dermatophilosis) is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Dermatophilus
congolensis and is usually seen after prolonged periods of rain. Some horses seem to be predisposed to the condition and tend to get it repeatedly whilst others may be affected as a one off. Crusts along the back and down the sides of the body where the rain runs off are characteristic for the condition. Lesions begin as small crusts with matting of the overlying hair progressing to larger crusts with pus and circular erosions underneath.

Diagnosis can be confirmed by looking at a smear of the crusts under a microscope – the bacteria have a very distinctive ‘railtrack’ appearance.
The most important factor in treatment is preventing further exposure to rain and most cases resolve with this alone. Removal of the crusts and treatment with topical anti-bacterial wash such as chlorhexidine may speed up resolution. Occasionally systemic antibiotics are required for severe cases. Care must be taken to dispose of the crusts after removal as they pose an infection risk to other horses and any rugs or saddle pads should be washed as well. Providing shelter and regularly checking and changing rugs during prolonged wet weather reduces the chance of rain scald.

Mud fever or greasy heel is a bacterial infection that is seen as painful scabs and sores on a horse’s legs, usually the pastern. The bacteria organisms thrive in moist conditions. It most commonly affects pink skinned legs however can occur on all horses. If left untreated, mud fever can develop into an infection that travels up the leg causing a painful condition known as cellulitis. Prevention is the best practice – keep the horse out of muddy yards and paddocks as much as possible. Clipping the legs can help them to dry quicker and helps avoid trapping moisture. Monitor for signs of greasy heel regularly and act immediately if you suspect an infection forming. Any swelling, heat or lameness should be seen by your Veterinarian for assessment. SHEC offers a formulated greasy heel cream to assist in wound healing in conjunction with management strategies.

If you are worried your horse might have rain scald, greasy heel or another skin condition, don’t hesitate to chat to your vet today.

STUD SEASON

The team at SHEC provides routine stud veterinary services throughout the Southern Highlands region to breeders and studs both large and small.

SHEC provides the following reproductive services:

  • Emergency services including assisted foaling and correction of dystocia, neonatal resuscitation and care, and intensive care of the peri-parturient mare.
  • Routine stud services

o   Routine stud services include follicle scanning, ovulation timing, early pregnancy diagnosis, infertility investigations, treatment of endometritis, twin ablations, abortion investigations, problem mare investigations, foaling assistance, newborn foal check and insurance certificates, IgG testing, and foal limb assessment and more!

  • Artificial insemination

o   Artificial insemination (A.I.) is the placement of semen into the uterus of a mare at the time of ovulation. It is performed by means of a catheter inserted through the mare’s cervix by a veterinarian. Fresh semen is collected and used almost immediately.  Chilled semen gives you access to a broad range of sires across Australia and New Zealand, and frozen semen can even give you access to stallions abroad.

  • Embryo Transfer in collaboration with Dr Ed Annand from EquiEpiVet
  • Problem mare investigations

o   Our expert team will watch your mare closely to improve both fertility and the likelihood of a full term pregnancy. Problem mare solutions include but are not limited to:
• Pre and post-breeding examinations.
• Surgical procedures such as “caslick” and repair of fistulae following birth trauma.
• Investigative procedures including ultrasound, biopsy, histopathology,  & progesterone assay.
• Identifying mares that are at high risk of pregnancy loss ie placentitis and monitoring to assist in the retention of the pregnancy.

  • Placentitis monitoring and treatment
  • Foetal sexing

If you are planning on breeding your mare this season give the office a call to talk to one of our reproduction veterinarians to discuss what we can do for you and your mare!

NEW TO SHEC – EQUINOSIS Q LAMENESS LOCATOR

The team at SHEC are thrilled to announce that we have an exciting new piece of equipment! To provide the best service and care for our clients beloved horse, SHEC now has an Equinosis Q lameness locator for precision lameness measurement!

The Equinosis Q lameness locator allows the veterinarians at SHEC to objectively measure lameness in horses with non-invasive inertial sensors. The lameness locator is not a substitute for veterinary lameness examinations however, it is a valuable aid for equine practitioners to use in lameness examination to evaluate cases of equine lameness.

How does it work? 

The Equinosis Q has inertial sensors placed over the pole, croup, right forelimb pastern and on the rider for ridden examinations. These sensors allow the horses motion to be analysed. Based on the data collected the affected limbs can be determined as well as the severity of the lameness and the timing of peak pain in the stride cycle (i.e. impact, mid-stance or push-off).

What is the benefit of a using the Equinosis Q for lameness examinations? 

1)     Equinosis Q provides objective, repeatable measurements rather than subjective lameness grades as given in traditional lameness exams. This allows the lameness to be quantified. This can be useful for assessing the progress of treatment and rehabilitation programs. This also allows the effectiveness of nerve and joint regional anaesthesia (blocks) to be assessed objectively by quantifying their effectiveness.

2)     The Equinosis Q is reported to be 10 times more sensitive than the human eye and has the ability to quantify asymmetry in equine movement with sub-millimetre precision. This means that mild lameness can be measured prior to obvious visual cues. This makes the Equinosis Q useful for monitoring sub-clinical performance and for evaluating mild or multiple limb lameness.

3)     In cases of multiple limb lameness horses may appear lame in multiple limbs as a result of a primary lameness with a compensatory response in the other area. This can be challenging both clinically and from a diagnostic standpoint for veterinary clinicians. However, with the aid of the lameness locator the primary source of pain can be more accurately determined.

Pictured below is one of our veterinarians, Dr Ramon Perez, and our veterinary nurse Avril performing a thorough lameness exam using our lameness locator. Contact the clinic today for more information or to book a lameness exam with our lameness locator!

 

A BUSH FIRE SURVIVAL PLAN FOR YOUR HORSE

As the weather continues to heat up, with little rain forecast and extreme fire risk conditions set to continue, the threat of bushfire is real and a survival plan for your horse a must.

Don’t put yourself and others at risk by attempting to rescue your horse, livestock or other pets at the last minute. 

Last minute decisions may end in tragedyGive everyone, including your horse, the greatest chance of survival by preparing a Bush Fire Survival Plan with your family.  Remember to discuss your plan with your neighbours and other horse owners in your area; and make sure that everyone connected with your property is aware of your plan and knows when to put it into action. Review and update your Bush Fire Survival Plan on a regular basis.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has an excellent fact sheet on preparing your horse for a bushfire

   Prepare-your-horse-for-bush-fire

A horse’s natural instinct “flight response” is to run from danger which includes bushfire and they will quickly move to burnt ground to survive.

Horses are quite good at avoiding bushfire if:

  1. They have enough room to move freely and get a good gallop up in a large open space
  2. There is minimal vegetation in the large open space.

On Severe, Extreme or Catastrophic fire danger day/s, move your horses to a designated safer paddock or area. This may be:

  • A large eaten out (bare) paddock
  • A series of smaller connected bare paddocks with the internal gates (only) left open.
  • A large well fenced sand arena, provided there are no buildings or vegetation close by that could catch fire.

This designated area will have a substantial water supply, exclusive of automatic waterers as they are easily damaged by fire and may stop working. Ideally the safer paddock will have a dam in it where the horse can also seek relief from the heat. Your horse should be familiar with the planned safer place.

A horse may panic if confined, so locking your horse in a stable or holding yard is not recommended.

Importantly, do not let your horses out on the roads as not only will they  be in more danger from traffic and fire, a loose horse/s on the road creates further hazards for emergency services.

It is paramount to remove all gear, including rugs, fly veils, boots, halters and head collars from your horses.

Some gear may melt or become very hot and cause serious burns, or get caught on fences.  Embers landing on rugs may cause the rug to catch on fire and the horse will not be able to get the rug off.

Permanently identify your horses by microchiping or branding them.

If your property isn’t safe – Move your horses to a safer location before a fire starts. Once a fire has started, it is unlikely you will be able to safely move your horses to another location. Bushfires can travel quickly, visibility will be poor and roads will be dangerous, and sometimes inaccessible.

Options for safe places include – showgrounds (ie Moss Vale Showground) – saleyards – racetracks – pony club grounds – public reserves – property of family or friends.

Prepare an Emergency Survival Kit for your horse.

Keep the kit in an easy to access place and check it periodically. It is a good idea to label the kit with the date you packed it and the next date you want to check it.

Include a list of phone numbers for:

  • neighbours with horses
  • horse transport companies in your area
  • club contacts (pony club, dressage)
  • local stock suppliers, vets and farriers

ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR KIT

  • wire cutters & a sharp knife
  • waterproof torch
  • container for water ie bucket and drinking water
  • feed including chaff or hay
  • extra lead rope and halter (leather is safer during a fire)
  • woollen blankets, clean towels, blindfolds
  • leg wraps (pillow wraps and stable bandages)
  • adhesive cloth tape & duct tape
  • copy of important papers such as ownership, pedigree, membership &  insurance and a photo of you & your horse in case you need to prove ownership
  • pliers or nippers (to pull nails)
  • temporary fencing and hammer (star pickets and bunting, or electric fence)
  • FIRST AID KIT INCLUDING
  • cotton wool/combine
  • self-adhesive bandage (vetrap)
  • gauze pads (assorted sizes)
  • sterile wound dressing
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • rectal thermometer
  • surgical scrub and antiseptic solution
  • wound ointment
  • antiseptic spray
  • syringes
  • non latex gloves
  • eye wash

Remember the best chance of survival in the event of a bushfire is for you and your horse is to be prepared and to act on bushfire information.

 

Local bush fire information sources include –

o NSW RFS website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

o Bush Fire Information Line 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737)

o Fires Near Me (smartphone application)

o Local media

PREPARE                    ACT                     SURVIVE

 

References

1.Rural Fire Services NSW – https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/resources/factsheets

2. Country Fire Authority Victoria – https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/horses-and- bushfires

HOW HORSES WORK: THE BLOOD

How Horses Work: The Blood

The average 500kg horse has roughly 40 litres of blood. Plasma, the liquid portion, makes up roughly 55% and cells comprise the remainder. The cells are mostly red blood cells, with a smaller number of white blood cells and platelets. But what do they all do?

The main function of red blood cells, which are also called erythrocytes, is the transport of oxygen from the alveoli in the lungs to the organs, muscles and other tissues where it is needed. Red cells are tiny flattened discs with an indent in the centre and there are several million red blood cells in a single drop of blood.

White blood cells are far less numerous, making up less than 1% of the blood volume. Also known as leukocytes, there are five different types which all have crucial roles in the complex process which protects the body from disease and infection. Neutrophils kill bacteria and fungi and then digest them with the aid of monocytes. Lymphocytes create antibodies against bacteria and viruses while basophils form the alarm system which sounds when infectious agents are detected in the blood. Eosinophils are involved in allergic responses as well as dealing with parasites and attacking cancer cells.

The last group of cells are platelets. These cells interact with clotting factors to form a clot and prevent life-threatening bleeding when blood vessels are damaged.

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood in which all the cells are carried. It is around 90% water but also transports carbon dioxide (back to the lungs to be breathed out) and glucose as well as proteins, fats, hormones and vitamins.

Routine blood tests look at the numbers and ratios of the different groups of blood cells (haematology) as well as electrolytes, proteins and a variety of enzymes produced by the organs (biochemistry). Our in house laboratory runs routine haematology and biochemistry with same day results available for samples received during business hours.

 

 

LEG WOUNDS – IT’S NOT JUST SIZE THAT MATTERS

Wounds in horses are extremely common and a lot of the time they are only minor. But there are many synovial structures (joints and tendon sheaths) in the lower limb with very little protection from overlying tissues, so even tiny wounds in this area can be extremely serious. If a wound introduces bacteria into a synovial structure, these bacteria can colonise very quickly causing inflammation and increased pressure within the joint which rapidly becomes very painful. Severe lameness can be suggestive of tendon sheath or joint involvement but this isn’t always the case. If the wound is very recent or the joint is open and able to drain (and therefore relieve the pressure) the lameness may be mild. Without prompt and aggressive treatment, infection within joints and tendon sheaths can be fatal.

Here are some guidelines for when to call your vet when your horse has a leg wound:
– Wounds through the full thickness of skin, puncture wounds or those with exposed bone or tendon
– Wounds close to a joint or tendon – be aware that the normal pouches of some joints extend up and down the leg away from the joint
– Excessive bleeding or swelling around the wound
– Clear or pale yellow discharge, or pus from the wound
– The horse is lame or has a temperature

As a general rule, always err on the side of caution and give us a ring if you’re worried – we’d rather have a chat about something that seems minor than miss a potentially life-threatening injury. And most importantly, stay calm and keep yourself safe – injured horses can panic and behave out of character so it’s a good idea to get an extra pair of hands to help you assess the situation safely.

And don’t forget to keep a First Aid Box stocked and handy

Horse first-aid box

All good tack rooms should have some sort of a first-aid or bandage box. The following is our recommendation for what you should have inside.

  • Disposable rubber gloves
  • Sterile Gauze swabs
  • Various sizes of Melonin®
  • Cotton Wool rolls
  • Gamgee®
  • Vetrap®
  • Elastoplast®
  • Scissors
  • Digital thermometer

As you can see, this is quite a simple list but it will allow you to look after most types of wound. All of the components of this first aid box can be purchased from us, your local pharmacy or tack shop.