Action Point: Understand the most common infectious respiratory diseases and how to prevent them from occurring.
Rationale: Respiratory conditions are fairly common and can have a significant impact on individual horse health and performance and, in the case of infectious diseases, can be easily spread. Prevention is the best measure in ensuring respiratory health.
Management decisions play a significant role in maintaining respiratory health and protecting horses against infectious disease. Best practices include, developing a vaccination schedule in consultation with a veterinarian, and implementing biosecurity protocols, i.e. isolate all newly arriving horses, and isolate horses with clinical signs immediately.
Respiratory system diseases fall into two categories. (1) Infectious upper respiratory tract disease (IURD) primarily affect young horses and often occur in the form of an outbreak. The most common IURD conditions to be aware of are equine influenza virus, equine herpes virus, equine rhinovirus, sinusitis, and strangles. (2) Infectious lower respiratory tract disease (ILRD) affect any age of horse. Includes pleuropneumonia, lungworm, and parascaris equorum.
Respiratory Diseases in Horses: What You Can Do to Prevent Them
Slater, J. D. & E.J. Knowles. (2012). Ch. 14: “Medical nursing.” In K.M. Coumbe (Ed.), Equine Veterinary Nursing. p.246-285 John Wiley & Sons Incorporated
Future post: non-infectious respiratory system diseases
Action Point: Develop equine wellness programs for each horse based on their individual needs.
Rationale: Developing equine wellness programs in consultation with a veterinarian will ensure routine care and monitoring of each horse’s health and serve as a proactive tool in disease prevention and early diagnosis and treatment.
The following elements should be included:
- routine immunization
- parasite control
- nutritional consultations
- annual Coggins testing
- dental care
- annual physical examination
Is Your Horse Enrolled in a Wellness Program?
Designing an Equine Wellness Plan for Your Practice
Zimmel, D. (2009). Ch. 5: “Equine Wellness Program.” In AAEVT Equine Manual for Veterinary Technicians. p.131-146. Wiley-Blackwell
Action Point: Learn about the most common skin conditions in horses, how to prevent, identify, and treat them (in consultation with a veterinarian).
Rationale: Skin conditions, although not usually fatal, can cause a great deal of discomfort and affect the quality of life and performance abilities of a horse. They may also be an indication of disease, which may be contagious, and in some cases, zoonotic, that is, transmissible from horse to human. Common causes of skin irritation in horses are allergens, environmental factors/exposure, external parasites, and in some cases, management practices.
Common skin conditions
- Hives (urticaria) – may be acute or chronic depending on the cause
- Atopic dermatitis – airborne allergens
- Sweet itch (insect-induced dermatitis) – Culicoides aka “no-see-ums”
- Pemphigus foiaceus – autoimmune disease
- Bumps/nodules – insect bites
- Rain rot/rain scald (dermatophilosis) – bacterial, contagious
- Mud fever/scratches (pastern dermatitis) – bacterial or fungal
- Warts and sarcoids
- Ringworm (dermatophytosis) – fungal, contagious
- Mange – mites
- Keep horses clean and dry
- Avoid keeping horses in wet, muddy pastures
- Parasite control – internal and external
- Pasture and manure management
- UV protection
10 Common Skin Conditions
Equine Dermatology - Everything You Wanted to Know (and More) About Skin
Diagnosing equine skin disease
Structure of the Skin in Horses