Welcome to CEVS’s first blog! We will be having weekly blog posts to keep our clients updated on information, new products and anything else that we thing you would like. Any topics that you want to hear about? Please let us know! First up, Wellness exams.
Wellness is a word thrown around a lot these days, but what exactly does it mean? Wellness means anything that is done preemptively to help identify issues, and hopefully before they become a larger problem. This starts with a physical exam and can go as far as needed based on age and use. Other services can include bloodwork, a soundness evaluation, or even foot radiographs. Check out the top 6 most commonly noted conditions on a wellness exam.
An integral part of every equine wellness exam is monitoring of your horse’s weight (which can be fairly accurate to estimate on the farm through a weight tape method) and overall body condition. Many show horses are kept over conditioned because owners like to see their horses in “good flesh”. However, overweight horses are extremely common and much more prone to serious conditions that can affect their life significantly, including arthritis, laminitis, colic, and more. Knowing how your horse’s weight and body condition change from year to year can also help you dose the correct amounts of medication.
2. Heart Murmurs
When listening to your horse’s heart, your veterinarian can determine if there is a murmur present. A murmur represents the abnormal flow of blood within the heart leading to a murmur sound between beats.
Not all heart murmurs in horses indicate serious disease nor need to be treated. However, some types of murmurs are more significant than others and could lead to exercise intolerance in the horse or be related to other abnormalities. Horses with heart murmurs can be more at risk when undergoing sedation for procedures.
3. PPID or Equine Cushing’s Disease
Equine Cushing’s disease (also known as PPID) is far and away the most common metabolic disorder of horses and affects a good percentage of aged horses (generally horses over 15 years old). Horses affected by advanced PPID often appear to have long curly haircoats, potbellied appearance, and muscle wasting. They could also have signs of laminitis. Horses with early PPID often do not display such obvious clinical signs and may only have subtle changes. These signs may include weight loss or changes in their musculature, or be prone to more infections (frequent hoof abscesses, skin issues, or dental disease). Newer testing is available to diagnose PPID sooner than ever. Treating PPID earlier can often help curtail clinical signs and avoid the serious side effects of the condition.
4. Degenerative Joint Disease or Osteoarthritis
While arthritis is a progressive condition, early identification of this problem can help determine appropriate treatment. Management of pain and inflammation can hopefully add years of usefulness to your horse.
Uveitis is a fancy term for inflammation within the eye. Many types of horses (in particular Appaloosas or those exposed to leptospirosis) can be affected by a condition referred to as equine recurrent uveitis (ERU). This can present itself during an exam as some mild discharge from one or both eyes or eyes that slightly close due to pain and inflammation. Left untreated, uveitis can lead to permanent damage within a horse’s eye, possible blindness or even loss of an eye.
6. Cancerous Masses (Melanomas, Squamous Cell Carcinomas, and Sarcoids)
Melanomas are a common tumor type in gray horses. They affect the tail, anus, head, and neck. They are often benign and do not cause a problem. However, melanomas have the potential to be locally invasive enough to cause clinical signs.
Squamous cell carcinomas are another common tumor in all types of horses, particularly present on eyes, nose, and genital regions of horses. They are often found on non-pigmented areas of a horse’s skin. Those areas exposed to UV light are particularly at risk. Squamous cell carcinomas can be extremely aggressive and metastasize or spread to other parts of the body so quickly that removal is indicated for a good outcome.
Sarcoids are another common tumor type that can take on many different forms and frequently look different. They can be locally aggressive and occur anywhere on the body.
Until next time!
*article modified from article by Badger Equine