The importance of understanding the anatomy and physiology of the heart and lungs will go a long way in helping you ascertain if there is a medical emergency at hand.
What you might observe
Signs of a heart problem might include a loss of condition, shortness of breath, slow recovery after exercise, an increased effort to breathe, a shorter period of exercise before development of fatigue, and general weakness. Fluid accumulation in the abdomen, legs, or under the skin surrounding the ribs is another indication of poor heart function.(1)
Some condition a horse owner may see are cardiac dysrythmias,
Action: Call your Vet immediately
It is important to understand the anatomy of the horses’ respiratory system to fully appreciate the toll respiratory diseases can have. Oxygen is essential to the survival of all mammals, the horses’ cardiovascular system accomplishes this, even at peak respiratory rate the spleen can dump its erythrocytes into the bloodstream to provide more oxygen to the body. Signs and symptoms will vary between respiratory conditions so it will be important to understand the causative factors of the different disease processes.
(please see this link for a review of the anatomy with relationships to disease)
Acute injury in horses develops most likely from a secondary disease process, ie; medications, antibiotics, exposure to toxins in an article in the horse,com, Stacey Oke, DVM wrote in her article Diagnosis and Treatment of kidney disease in horses, Jan 9 2012
“Acute kidney injury usually develops in horses as a complication of another , disease process, or as a side effect from medications, or exposure to toxins (see sidebar at left),” relayed Hal Schott II, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of equine medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine during his presentation at the 12th Congress of The World Equine Veterinary Association, held Nov. 2-6, 2011, in Hyderabad, India.”
Causes of Acute Kidney Injury
Secondary to a disease:
Secondary to Drugs
Aminoglycoside antibiotics (e.g., amikacin, gentamicin)
Oxytetracycline (used in foals with flexural deformities)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS, phenylbutazone or “Bute”)
Myoglobin or hemoglobin (in horses that “tie-up”)
Vitamin D or K3
Heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, zing, cadmium, lead)
Treatment CALL THE VET!
Epiploic Foramen entrapment is when the small intestine gets trapped into a segment of itself thus restricting blood flow which in turn causes death to the tissue and toxins to be released into the bloodstream. In the article:
” Risk factors for epiploic foramen entrapment colic: An international study” by
AuthorsD. C. ARCHERG. L. PINCHBECKN. P. FRENCHC. J. PROUDMAN they indified in their research that:”Crib‐biting/windsucking behaviour was strongly associated with increased risk of EFE (OR 67.3, 95% CI 15.3–296.5). A history of colic in the previous 12 months (OR 4.4, 95% CI 1.5–12.7) and horses of greater height (OR/cm 1.05, 95% CI 1.01‐1.08) were also at increased risk. The person(s) responsible for horses’ daily care (nonowner/relative/spouse OR 5.5, 95% CI 2.3–13.3) and a number of behavioural features, including response to a stimulus causing fright (easily frightened OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.1‐1.0) or excitement (sweats up easily/occasionally OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1‐0.8), reaction to their surroundings (inquisitive OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2‐0.8) and feeding behaviour when stressed (goes off food in full/part OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1‐1.0) were also associated with altered risk of EFE.”
Type of colic causing small intestine strangulation
Known Causes: Cribbing/windsucking, history of windsucking in previous 12 months, and a horse with greater height (
“The epiploic foramen is located in the right dorsal abdomen and is bordered by the vena cava, hepatic portal vein, liver and pancreas. Most incarcerations are caused by small intestine passing from the left side of the abdomen through the epiploic foramen to the right side of the abdomen. The ileum and the jejunum are the most commonly incarcerated portions of small intestine and the length of bowel affected may vary from a few centimetres up to 17m. Strangulation of the affected portion occurs as a result of entrapment in the majority of cases and approximately 80% of affected horses have irreversible vascular compromise of the herniated small intestine”(3)
Prognosis: If the cribbing cannot be controlled then the horse has an increased risk of developing this condition/ the treatment is surgical
Risk factors for epiploic foramen entrapment colic: An international study D. C. ARCHER*, G. L. PINCHBECK, N. P. FRENCH† and C. J. PROUDMAN P223-230 -( E-Article)
Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae in the hoof. There are a number of contributing causes that include but are not limited to:
- Hoof striking hard ground such as concrete
- Metabolic stresses from any disease that affects the blood flow to the hoof
- Toxins, that enter the blood either retained placenta or ingested ie Black Walnut\
- Grain overload
Treatment Goals :
- Reduce pain and inflammation with use of drugs (Vets advice)
- Reduce mechanical stressors
- Control/reduce metabolic stressors
- Supporting the frog and reducing stress on the hoof walls
- Coordinating efforts with Vet, Farrier and Owner
Colic: Signs and Symptoms
Pawing at the ground with forelimb
Reaching around with the head to the flank;
Increased amount of time lying down;
Playing in the water bucket;
Continual shifting of weight on the hind limbs; and
Standing against a wall and moving infrequently.
Treatment: Calling Vet sooner than later is always advisable as colic can become worse quickly.
- Check Vital Signs, Heart rate and rectal temp
- Check stall for manure
- CALL VET
- Closely monitor your horse
- Walk your horse around
- Do not exhaust the horse
- Remove Food
- Provide plenty of water
- Medication on advice of Vet Only
- Keep Horse contained in safe area
- Consider Trailering horse to hospital
SOP Protocols for Disease Prevention, Detection and Treatment
Rationale: Having the information readily available to identify risk factors, signs and symptoms of a disease, as well as treatments, will assist in controlling spread and transmission of any given disease.
S.O.P 1.1 : Abdominal/Intestinal
S.O.P 1.1.1: Colic symptoms, recognition and treatment
S.O.P 1.2: Dental Problems, recognition and treatment
S.O.P 1.2.1 Sinus infections/ tooth impaction
S.O.P 1.3 Issues with Laminitis Identifying risk factors and Treatment
S.O.P. 1.4 Renal/Urinary issues
S.O.P 1.4.1 Male reproductive/Urinary Tract
S.O.P. 1.4.2 Female Reproductive Tract
S.O.P. 188.8.131.52 Pregnancy and complications Ref:.
Equine Reproductive Physiology, Breeding and Stud Management M.C.G.Davies Morel Institute of Rural Studies University of Wales, Aberystwyth UK http://scholar.cu.edu.eg/ashrafseida/files/equine_reproduction.pdf
S.O.P 1.4.3 Respiratory Complaints
PURPOSE: the purpose of this SOP is to provide guidance in the situations where Fire is present or other safety hazards that are present on the farm and could endanger your safety or the safety of all livestock.
SOP 2.1 Fire and Safety Prevention
1. Absolutely no smoking, lit flame or source of combustion that be allowed within a 100m of barn, arena, stables hay or grain barn storage
2.1 All emergency exists shall be clearly identified and lit. Hallways and doorways shall be kept free of any and all debris. This is to maintain egress route
2.2. CSA approved and recommended fire extinguisher are to be mounted at every exit including grain and hay storage areas.
2.3. All vehicular storage areas. Shall have good ventilation, longtime storage of batteries, fuels explosive equipment materials, shall be stored in a designated yellow cabinet of steel construction.
2.4 Farm Vehicles that do not have current plates and licensing that is current will be asked to remove the vehicle from the property.
2.5 Farm vehicles that have proof of licensing and registration are asked to place oil pan or equivalent to capture leaks
Action Point: Compile and keep accurate Health Records of all horses that are kept on the premises for greater than 24 hrs
Rationale: All health records need to be reviewed, kept up-to-date and accessible, in order to establish and maintain appropriate standard operating procedures for the farm.
Health Records for each horse shall contain the following:
General Information sheet, name, breed. age, owners contact info.
Case History record