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,
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.”
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)
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
Purpose of this biosecurity plan is to reduce the incidence and impact of disease within the farm population. As well as reduce spread of disease between farms
To achieve this, we will monitor our practices by using the Equine Guelph Biosecurity Risk Calculator three times a year. Keeping a copy of the printed results will enable us to quantify and qualify our progress.
Identifying the disease risks for the farm and facility and how they are transmitted, as well as how to mitigate an outbreak should one occur, will assist us in keeping any illness to a minimum
Review management practices after each assessment.
Keep detailed health records of each horse.
Keep a sign in log of all visitors to the property.
National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity Standard for the Equine Sector, section 4 and 5
Code of Practice for the care and handling of Equines, section 4 Health Management
Action Point: Keep confidence index for skills from beginning of the course in mind while I go through the units.
Rationale: Help to focus on the big picture for the course, if there are times when the details are overwhelming.
Identify the value of effective communication as it pertains to your horse’s health; 8
Identify individual needs of your horse regarding health management and disease prevention;6
Identify common health problems and strategies available to prevent and/or manage them; 5
Perform a daily health check and relay important data to your veterinarian that will aid in the health and welfare of your horse; 5
Analyze biosecurity risks and determine the factors needed for infectious disease prevention strategies; 7
Differentiate when immediate medical aid may be required or not, and identify first aid measures in different emergency scenarios; 6
Ask your veterinarian educated questions, and discuss problems relating to your horse’s health in an informed manner so that you may assist in the formulation or revision of your preventative health program 6
Find, interpret and critically appraise new information in order to update your background knowledge on a topic of interest. 6
This page outlines the Standing Operating Procedures. Standing Operating Procedures are an important tool for the staff at any barn, as they provide guidance on what to do and actions to carry out from Emergency Procedures to Pest and Parasite control.
You will notice that the SOP’s are clearly identified so that when needed the reference can be found quickly. These SOP’s will also be available in hard copy and posted for quick access to all staff.
This is a work in progress and will never truly be finished, as when our knowledge and experience grows so should our S.O.Ps
This is also promulgated with the help of all the staff. If you see something that could be done, better, more efficiently, speak UP!!