Adopting an Orphan Foal

Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network

Date Published: 02/02/2009

One of the most difficult problems that can occur on a breeding farm is the death of a mare immediately after she foals; raising an orphan foal is not an easy task. The first thing to consider is that the foal must receive colostrum, or first milk, within the first 24 hours of birth to provide immunity. It is always a good idea for a horse farm to have frozen colostrum that was collected from another foaling mare in the freezer in case it is needed. In some cases, nurse mares can be found but these are not available in most areas.

Orphan foals can be raised on milk replacer fed out of a bucket or bottle or can be fed goat’s milk. However, bottle or bucket feeding is time consuming and is not the best social training for a foal. Another option is to stimulate another mare to start producing milk and then teach her to accept the foal so she will allow the foal to nurse. Mares that are going to be given medication to start producing milk should be mares that have foaled and raised a foal before. Also, mares chosen should be in good physical condition and calm. To induce lactation, mares are given a series of hormone treatments and the mare should be milked beginning on day 4 after starting the hormones. Dr. Peter Daels from Equine Embryo Transfer Center indicates introduction of the newborn foal and mare should be done in a closed stall with no other horses around. The mare should initially be separated from the foal with a bar to keep her confined and sometimes a tranquilizer is helpful to allow the new mare to get used to the foal. Most mares actually will start allowing the foal to nurse within 1 to 2 days.

Adequan and Polyglycan in Horses

Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)

Date Published: 08/26/2009

There are many products used routinely for arthritis in horses. As far as injectable products, Adequan and Legend are two of the most used injections for treatment of arthritis; both of these products are approved for this use and have been shown to be effective. It seems horse owners are always looking for cheaper medications that will do the same job as Adequan and Legend.

In fact, many of these medications are called generics, which they are not. A generic medication is approved by the FDA for the same purpose as the original compound and must have the same ingredients. For example, one of the newest medications being used for arthritis in horses is a compound called Polyglycan. Polyglycan is sometimes called a generic form of Adequan and Legend combined, which is totally incorrect. Polyglycan has not been approved for injectable use in horses and it does not contain the same chemical as Adequan. Also, there are no studies showing it to be effective or safe for injection in horses. The company that manufactures Adequan performed a study on 16 horses to compare Adequan and Polyglycan in which they gave eight horses Adequan injections and eight horses received Polyglycan. All of these horses were injected with a chemical to induce inflammation in the knee joint. Results indicated that 88% of the horses on Adequan had less lameness while only 50% of the horses on Polyglycan had less lameness, and 48% of the Adequan horses had reduced joint swelling while none of the Polyglycan horses had reduced swelling. Although Polyglycan and similar products may be less expensive, most are not as effective and could be dangerous when used in an unapproved manner.

Adding Fat to your Horse’s Diet for Weight Gain

Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network

Date Published: 12/08/2004
Date Reviewed/Revised: 08/15/2016

Some horses need to gain weight but cannot eat large amounts of carbohydrates for various reasons. High levels of carbohydrates in a horse’s ration are a concern for horses prone to stomach ulceration, those with a history of colic, those with equine metabolic syndrome, and those susceptible to laminitis and founder. To provide energy for these horses by feeding something other than carbohydrates, feeding fat is a good option and there are several sources of fat for horses.

One source is to feed a high fat concentrate and many of these feeds contain up to 12 percent fat. The fat is supplied by vegetable oil or rice bran. However, Catherine Whitehouse with Kentucky Equine Research indicates some manufacturers use dried distillers grains, flaxseed, and full fat soybeans. Another fat source that can be used is straight vegetable oil as vegetable oil is 100% fat. As far as the type of oil, some believe the omega 6 fatty acids in corn oil are less desirable than soybean oil that contains more omega 3 fatty acids. Cereal grains such as oats and corn also have high concentrations of omega 6 fatty acids, so this further increases the amount of omega 6 fatty acids, so feeding an oil other than corn oil may be advisable. You can start these horses on 2 ounces of oil twice a day, gradually building up to 8 ounces twice a day, and most horses will eat this oil placed directly on top of their food. Another source of fat is stabilized rice bran, which is about 20% fat and is palatable to horses. Many folks prefer rice bran because it is less messy to feed than the oil and can easily be mixed in with a regular feed. Consult with your veterinarian about the best source of fat for your horse.

Arthritis Treatment in Horses

Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network

Date Published: 11/17/2008
Date Reviewed/Revised: 12/10/2019

Arthritis is a common problem in performance and older horses. Dr. Stacey Oke says in The Horse magazine that arthritis simply means joint inflammation. It is also called osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Classic signs include heat, swelling, lameness, stiffness, and in severe cases enlargement and grinding of the affected joints. Although any joint can be affected in horses, the most commonly involved are knees, fetlocks, hocks and stifles as these are the highest motion joints. If your horse is lame you may feel arthritis is the cause, but this cannot be determined without x-rays as there are other conditions that can have similar signs and signs of arthritis may not be found on x-rays in the early stages.

There are three types of pain including nociceptive pain, which is caused by activating pain receptors in the joint. Inflammatory pain can also occur due to inflammatory mediators being released in and around the joint, which also prime the nociceptive pain receptors to be more sensitive. Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to areas of the nervous system that perceive pain.

These differences are important. As Dr. Sheila Laverty from Quebec indicates, we have to control all three types of pain to treat arthritis. One treatment is weight loss. if your horse is overweight, weight loss may decrease the amount of pain medication needed. Joint injections can be used if a few joints are involved, but those are not without risk. Thousands of joint supplements are available and most have no proof of effectiveness, so check with your vet about the most effective supplements in their experience. Anti-inflammatories are also useful but unfortunately, there is no current cure for arthritis in animals or people.

Arthritis in the Neck Can Cause Equine Lameness

Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network

Date Published: 11/13/2020

Lameness in horses can be difficult to diagnose. Sometimes, the lameness is so subtle that it is only felt by the rider and when lameness is that subtle, nerve blocks to numb the potential affected area are not helpful. Also, it is possible the lameness in a leg is not because of a leg problem at all, but the problem is in the neck. Arthritis in the neck and associated nerve impairment can cause lameness in horses that usually appears in the forelegs but can be severe enough to affect the gait of the rear legs as well if the intervertebral joint is involved and the spinal cord is compressed. Dr. Gwenola Touzot-Jourde is an anesthesiologist in France and she mentions that sometimes you cannot find a problem in the limbs because the problem is not in there but in the neck.

She says that arthritis commonly occurs at the junction of the C6 and C7 vertebrae at the lower neck, and nerve compression is also common in this area. This vertebrae in this area have two articular process joints on either side of the vertebrae as well as the intervertebral joint. This area receives a lot of rotational movement and stress in ridden horses, and can compress the seventh cervical nerve that is associated with shoulder and foreleg sensation. This specific syndrome is different from spinal cord compression, which can lead to hind limb weakness that can also occur in the neck. The researchers examined the compression of the seventh cervical nerve by anesthetizing the nerve in normal horses and found these horses had shortened gaits and general lack of shoulder tone. However, there was no stumbling or falling, which was expected. So if your horse is off on the forelimbs and your veterinarian cannot find a problem in the leg, the neck could be the source of the problem.

Arthritis in Horses

Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network

Date Published: 07/16/2012
Date Reviewed/Revised: 07/29/2020

Arthritis is a common problem in performance and older horses. Dr. Stacey Oke says in The Horse magazine that arthritis simply means joint inflammation. It is also called osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Classic signs include heat, swelling, lameness, stiffness, and in severe cases enlargement and grinding of the affected joints. Although any joint can be affected in horses, the most commonly involved are knees, fetlocks, hocks and stifles as these are the highest motion joints. If your horse is lame you may feel arthritis is the cause, but this cannot be determined without x-rays as there are other conditions that can have similar signs, and in the early stages signs of arthritis may not be found on x-rays.

There are three types of arthritic pain. One is nociceptive pain, which is caused by activating pain receptors in the joint. Inflammatory pain can also occur due to inflammatory mediators being released in and around the joint, which also prime the nociceptive pain receptors to be more sensitive. Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to areas of the nervous system that perceive pain.

These differences are important. As Dr. Sheila Laverty from Quebec indicates, we have to control all three types of pain to treat arthritis. One treatment is weight loss. If your horse is overweight, weight loss may decrease the amount of pain medication needed. Joint injections can be used if a few joints are involved, but those are not without risk. Thousands of joint supplements are available and most have no proof of effectiveness, so check with your veterinarian about the most effective supplements in their experience. Anti-inflammatories are also useful but unfortunately, there is no current cure for arthritis in animals or people.