Spring 2013 Newsletter
Making the Most of Spring Vaccination Visits
By Dr. Stacy Kenyon and Dr. Craig Pauly
Spring is hopefully upon us and we are all excited about getting outdoors with our horses. Spring is also the time that you will be scheduling your vaccination visit with your veterinarian and we want you to make the most of it.
Administering vaccines should be only part of the experience for you and your equine friends. The physical examination by a licensed doctor can be invaluable to the well-being and performance of your horse(s) in the coming year. We all visit “Dr. Google” to answer our health questions and online research can certainly help owners be well-informed, but nothing can replace the trained touch, ability to listen, and experienced observation that comprises the art of physical examination.
The spring visit also allows you, the stable owner, to utilize our ability to observe things that can be easy to miss when you see a facility every day. How do the paddocks and pastures look? How is air quality in the barn? Are the stalls and fencing ready for an injury-free season? What is the quality of the feed, especially hay, as you are getting to the last of that which has been stored all winter? The best healthcare for your horse happens with a great veterinarian-client-patient relationship!
This year we have expanded our vaccine line and are excited to announce that we are now carrying Prestige V+WNV. This 5-way vaccine is a combination of inactivated, adjuvant antigens for:
- Equine Encephalomyelitis Viruses (Eastern and Western)
- Equine Herpesviruses (EHV-1 and EHV-4),
- Equine Influenza Viruses (EIV A/Equine 2/Kentucky/93 [H3N8] American, EIV A/Equine 2/Kentucky/02 [H3N8] American, EIV A/Equine 2/Newmarket/2/93 [H3N8] Eurasian)
- West Nile Virus - Flavivirus Chimera
- Tetanus Toxoid
This vaccine, when given with our current Rabies or Rabies/Potomac vaccine, satisfies the entire American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommended core and risk based vaccines for our area. For more information please see the enclosed brochure or visit:
As always, the best program for your horse will be determined with your veterinarian and we look forward to our spring visits!
Working Up the Horse with Weight Loss : A Preview
Do you have a horse that seems to struggle to maintain weight? Isn’t acting quite like him or her- self? Has variable manure consistency? Looks unkempt? Be sure to attend our Spring Equine Event to learn more about the various causes of these and other symptoms that can baffle horse owners. Dr. Jennifer Nightingale will be one of the featured speakers at this year’s event and will discuss work-up, diagnostic testing, and treatment of weight loss in horses. We look forward to seeing you there!
New Diagnostic Test Available to Aid in Diagnosis of Equine Ulcers
Countryside Veterinary Clinic is excited to announce that we are now offering a new non-invasive diagnostic test , called “SUCCEED”, that can aid in the diagnosis of subclinical and clinical gastric ulcer disease. The on-farm test identifies red blood cells and protein in manure. We anticipate this will be a valuable diagnostic tool in the diagnosis and early treatment of a sometimes subtle and challenging disease complex. A representative from the company that manufactures the test will be available to provide information and answer questions at our Spring Event.
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Winter 2012 Newsletter
Current Deworming Strategies
By Dr. Jen Nightingale
With spring right around the corner, we are eager to work together to develop a smart, specific deworming program that fits your horse’s needs. It can be challenging to strike a healthy balance when developing a deworming program; on one hand, it is important to minimize your horse’s parasite load, but overuse or misuse of deworming products can lead to resistance. Circumstances to consider in developing a deworming protocol for your farm include: Egg shedding classification of individual animals on the farm (to be discussed - factors include genetics, age and immune status of animals); exposure to new animals (travel, boarding, shows); and stocking density (number of animals housed). It is important to develop a deworming strategy which is specific to your facility, your animals and their current risk of exposure.
The major groups of parasites, include:
Please see our website for a more complete description of these parasite groups.
There are a number of approaches to deworming, which include some combination of the following:
1. Oral deworming medications, by drug class:
2. Manure management to decrease exposure to eggs:
- Regular manure cleanup in stables and pastures
- Rotating pastures
- Feeding off the ground and away from manure
- Don’t drag/harrow pastures to break up manure unless planning on keeping horses off pasture for several weeks
3. Alternative deworming products: Herbal products are not regulated by the FDA, and in many cases have not been researched for safety and efficacy, and thus are not recommended.
4. Deworm with consideration of the weather - but not here! In some climates, extremely hot, dry conditions can kill eggs. Contrary to popular belief, most eggs can survive winters in the northeast. There is rarely severe enough weather in our area capable of killing off parasite eggs.
An important topic in recent years is parasite resistance to dewormers. Resistance is defined as “the development of populations of internal parasites that are not killed following the administration of recommended doses of [deworming] drugs” (Oke 2010). Resistance is increasingly common, as some parasites can no longer be treated by certain drugs. A current recommendation to prevent resistance is for horse owners to submit a fecal sample annually for a fecal egg count on their horses to classify them as low, moderate or high shedders and to identify the parasites present. From here, an appropriate course of treatment for individual animals can be determined. To ensure that there is no resistance on your farm, submitting a second fecal sample in animals with a high parasite load, 8-12 weeks after deworming, can be performed to ensure that egg counts have been significantly reduced.
As research becomes available, our views are continuously evolving on the topic of deworming strategies. Current research states that not all horses are created equally when it comes to deworming.
The following should be considered when developing your deworming protocol:
- Don’t treat all horses the same. Some are more susceptible to parasites than others, due to factors including genetics, age and immune status. It is normal for a horse to have a minimal number of eggs; horses with mild infestations (low shedders) may require only infrequent deworming. Other horses which are vulnerable to high burdens (high shedders) need to be dewormed more frequently, as they are shedding large amounts of eggs. For example, on a given farm, one horse might be responsible for 80% of the eggs in the pasture. Fecal egg counts (see box below) help determine which horses are particularly susceptible to parasites, and guide treatment.
- Frequent deworming of horses that do not need it encourages the survival of resistant individual worms, by taking away their non-resistant competition. This is called “selection pressure for resistance;” by taking away the susceptible worms, we are improving the environment for the resistant ones. Deworming should be reserved for high shedders in most situations.
- Rotating dewormers is increasingly becoming controversial. The concept behind this practice is that if parasites are not “killed off” by one dewormer, they will be taken care of by the next one. However, with increasing resistance, this may no longer be true. Fecal egg counts after treatment will confirm that the dewormers being administered to your horses are still effective in eliminating parasites on your farm.
- Tapeworms present a unique challenge. Tapeworm eggs typically cannot be detected on a fecal exam. Therefore, we feel it best to strategically deworm for tapeworms regardless of fecal results twice annually.
- Fecal tests are cost effective for the information they provide. The protocol that can be developed from this information may result in less money being spent on deworming products through targeted treatment and peace of mind that resistance is being managed.
- Bayer Animal Health. “Internal Parasites: Strategies for Effective Parasite Control.” American Association of Equine Practitioners website, January 2010.
- Oke, Stacey. “Deworming Your Horse.” The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care. Blood Horse Publications, 2010: p. 1-2.
- West, Christie. “Parasite Control: 6 Tips on Learning to Live with Worms”. The Horse. March 2010, p. 53-54
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Spring 2011 Newsletter
10 Tips for Weight Reduction in the Overweight Horse
(Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners)
As a horse owner, you play an important role in controlling your equine companion's weight. Sound nutrition management, a regular exercise program and veterinary care are key to keeping your horse fit and healthy. Maintaining the ideal weight is not always easy, however.
When implementing a weight loss program for the overweight horse, it's important to do it gradually and under the supervision of an equine veterinarian. Follow these guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to get you started:
- Be patient. Weight reduction should be a slow, steady process so not to stress the horse or create metabolic upsets.
- Make changes in both the type and amount of feed gradually. Reduce rations by no more than 10% over a 7- to 10-day period.
- Track your horse's progress by using a weight tape. When the horse's weight plateaus, gradually cut back its ration again.
- Step up the horse's exercise regimen. Gradually build time and intensity as the horse's fitness improves.
- Provide plenty of clean, fresh water so the horse's digestive and other systems function as efficiently as possible and rid the body of metabolic and other wastes.
- Select feeds that provide plenty of high quality fiber but are low in total energy. Measure feeds by weight rather than by volume to determine appropriate rations.
- Select feeds that are lower in fat since fat is an energy-dense nutrient source.
- Switch or reduce the amount of alfalfa hay feed. Replace with a mature grass or oat hay to reduce caloric intake.
- Feed separate from other horses so the overweight horse doesn't have a chance to eat his portion and his neighbor's too. In extreme cases of obesity, caloric intake may also need to be controlled by limiting pasture intake.
- Balance the horse's diet based on age and activity level. Make sure the horse's vitamin, mineral and protein requirements continue to be met.
Once your horse has reached its ideal body condition, maintaining the proper weight is a gentle balancing act. You will probably need to readjust your horse's ration to stabilize its weight. Exercise will continue to be a key component in keeping the horse fit. Because obesity can affect a horse's health, communicate regularly with your veterinarian. Schedule regular check-ups, especially during the weight reduction process.
For more information about caring for the obese horse visit the AAEP's horse health web site: www.myHorseMatters.com.
Potomac Horse Fever : Vaccination Now Recommended
By Dr. Stacy Kenyon
Due to the increase in incidence of Potomac Horse Fever in our practice area over the last three years, we are now routinely recommending that all horse owners consider including vaccination against this disease as part of their preventive health protocols.
Potomac Horse Fever (PHF) is a disease caused by infection with Neorickettsia risticii and symptoms include fever, colic, diarrhea and subsequent laminitis. This organism has a complicated life cycle that continues to be the topic of intense research. N. risticii is found in certain species of freshwater snails and aquatic insects (caddisflies and mayflies) that populate areas along rivers. It is believed that horses become infected through ingestion of snails and insects that live in grasses along the riverbanks and are trapped on the water surface of streams and ditches. The adult insects may also contaminate feed and water of nearby stables.
Aquatic insects probably provide the means by which this organism moves from one geographic area to another through weather patterns that can literally blow swarms of flies to a new location. Strategies to prevent infection include vaccination and reduction of snails/insects in area bodies of water. As with most rickettisial diseases, vaccination is not fully protective against infection but the severity of disease following infection is greatly reduced in vaccinated horses. The initial series of PHF vaccination requires 2 doses approximately 4 weeks apart and it is recommended that the vaccination be given approximately every 6 months to provide optimal antibody titers during the peak seasonal incidences of disease vectors (snails/insects).
Please feel free to contact Dr. Kenyon or Dr. Peck to further discuss the appropriate vaccination strategies for your horse(s) needs.
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April 2010 Newsletter
Your Horses Health: Developing A Wellness Program Starts With Vaccination
By Dr. Stacy Kenyon
Early spring is the time in our practice that we develop our vaccination and deworming protocols for the coming year and tailor an individual wellness program to fit the needs of your horse(s). To develop the appropriate protocol we take into consideration several important factors. The activities in which you and your horse participate such as trail riding, shows, competitive pulls, clinics and breeding will greatly determine those diseases to which your horses may be exposed. The population of horses in your stable is an important consideration as well. The number of horses, their ages and whether there is movement of horses to and from your farm on a regular basis must be reflected in your wellness protocols. Emerging diseases within our geographic area or an area to which you may travel may warrant new vaccines be added to your regimen each year.
The following is a brief summary of the diseases we feel your horses are most at risk to develop in our practice area.
Rabies Virus: Spread primarily by infected wild animals, rabies can infect any horse regardless of travel history or location. Annual vaccination is necessary to provide adequate protection against this fatal disease.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE), West Nile Virus ( WNV): This family of viruses is carried by mosquitoes and can cause potentially fatal infection of the nervous system. Because these viruses are carried by insects they can infect your horses anytime and anywhere. Vaccination will greatly reduce the incidence and severity of the disease and should be given annually.
Tetanus: The bacteria is found in the soil and releases deadly toxins upon entry into the animal's body, typically through skin wounds and umbilical cords (newborn foals). Annual vaccination recommended.
Influenza Virus: Infection causes respiratory disease and the virus is spread easily between horses. Those under stress of travel are particularly susceptible. Annual or semi-annual vaccination recommended depending on risk of exposure. A new strain recently identified within the U.S. that seems to be more virulent (more severe symptoms) is a concern, particularly for large stables and those horses that travel extensively. The 4-way vaccine we use includes the most common strain of influenza; this year Merial is introducing a new flu vaccine that incorporates that latest identified strain and it will be one of the topics at our upcoming meeting.
Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1, EHV-2) / Rhinopneumonitis: Herpes viral infection has traditionally been associated with respiratory disease and abortions. This virus is easily spread between horses and, like the influenza virus, should be of great concern for those horses that travel or are housed in large stables where horses regularly leave and return. In recent years there has been an alarming increase in a neurologic form of the disease. Infected horses have been identified in many states and outbreaks have occurred in the last year in Florida and California with relatively high mortality rates among those populations infected. Herpes myeloencephalopathy, as the condition is being called, appears to caused by a mutated strain of EHV-1. Current vaccines available provide good protection against the respiratory and abortion conditions caused by this virus and appear to lessen the incidence and severity of the neurologic condition but do not appear to be 100% effective against the neurologic form. Despite the limitations, the American Association of Equine Practitioners strongly encourages horse owners to consider incorporating a herpes vaccine in your wellness program as it will help reduce the chance of an outbreak developing in a given geographic location.
Potomac Horse Fever: The bacteria that causes Potomac Horse Fever is found primarily near large river areas. In our practice area we recommend all horses residing in St. Lawrence County be vaccinated as well as those that may travel to endemic areas.
Strangles: The respiratory infection caused by Streptococcus equi is all too familiar to those whose stables have experienced outbreaks. Any stable with a history of infection should consider vaccination as well as those who travel to stables of unknown incidence.
This list of recommended vaccinations can be lengthy and certainly represent a significant financial investment for you. It is important to remember, however, that old cliche is true: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Especially when dealing with viral diseases there may in fact be no cure and prevention is worth everything. Also, it is important to consider the timing and administration of any vaccination program. It is best to provide vaccinations prior to the time of year of greatest exposure. Early spring is best for most vaccinations before the advent of mosquito season, show season, trail rides, etc. For many of our horses we will need to spread out the series of vaccinations so as not to tax their immune system too severely at one time. My general rule is to give no more than three vaccinations at a time and to allow at least 2 weeks between vaccinations visits. We ask that you factor this into your appointment schedule so that all necessary vaccinations will be given prior your first show or trailer trip. We realize this may necessitate multiple farm visits but the benefits to your horse(s) will be worth the added expense. This year we have partnered with Merial to provide our 4-way, West Nile, Rabies, and Flu vaccines. Merial has been a leader in recombinant technology and its use in their West Nile and Flu vaccine development. We feel their products will provide the best possible protection available.
The health and well-being of your horse truly is our utmost priority and we hope you consider our time at your stable a valuable opportunity to address any concerns or questions.
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