Newsletter Volume 7 2017
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Contents of this newsletter

01 Caring for the geriatric horse

02 The whats, whys and hows of hoof abscesses

01 Caring for the geriatric horse

Compared to many other domestic animals, horses have relatively long life-spans, with many living well into their 20s and 30s. Some horses will even maintain productive careers into their 20s. But just like humans, as horses age, their needs change and extra care may be required to keep them in best health.

Regular dental care by a qualified veterinarian is important for all horses, however it is even more critical for older horses. Problems may arise as teeth can become worn, overgrown, or decayed resulting in mouth pain and tooth loss. This can lead to difficulties in chewing feed and an inability to adequately absorb nutrients, often resulting in a gradual loss of body condition.

Metabolic disorders
Conditions such as Cushing’s disease and equine metabolic syndrome can be more common in older horses, and can wreak all sorts of havoc on your horse’s health. We are able to diagnose these conditions and they are often easily controlled with medications and/or nutritional management.

Older horses may seem stiff and sore. Wear and tear over the years can lead to arthritis which can affect one or many joints. There are ways to improve the comfort of horses suffering from arthritis and we can help you decide on the best options.

Prevention is better than cure! Older horses should be seen by a vet for a health check and dental every 6-12 months.

02 The whats, whys and hows of hoof abscesses

Hoof abscesses are one of the most common causes of sudden, severe lameness in the horse. A hoof abscess is an infection in the sensitive tissue of the hoof, which develops into a pocket of purulent material (pus) within the hoof capsule. Whilst the volume of pus is often only quite small, the pressure build-up that it causes within the hoof capsule is extremely painful and often results in significant lameness.

Signs of a hoof abscess can include:

  • Severe lameness (often quite sudden in onset), and some horses are reluctant to bear any weight at all on the affected leg
  • Heat in the foot
  • Swelling of the leg

We will examine your horse for an increase in the pulses to the foot (throbbing) and will use hoof testers to help isolate the painful area.

Treatment usually involves achieving drainage of the pus with a hoof knife. Soaking and poultice bandaging the foot will help to further encourage drainage. Pain relief is important however antibiotics are not normally required. It is important to ensure your horse’s tetanus vaccination is up to date as this is one of the most common ways that a horse may contract tetanus.

Call us if you're worried about your horse's hooves.