Northwest Equine Veterinary
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Wellness Care

We Focus On Your Horse's Health

 

Wellness Care

 

Maintaining Optimal Wellness

It is important that your horse remain in good body condition and in good general health. This will help him or her perform well and enjoy a
good quality of life. Good preventative care can also help make your horse more resistant to contracting diseases. A comprehensive preventative
care plan includes appropriate vaccinations and deworming, regular dental care, and an appropriate nutrition plan. We would like to assist
you in providing the best tools and services available for the superb welfare of your horses.


VACCINES AND DEWORMING

At Northwest Equine Veterinary Associates we will assist you in developing an appropriate and easy to follow vaccination program custom tailored to your horses needs. We will also send you a courtesy reminder to support you in implementing your program. We advocate vaccinating all horses whether they travel frequently or mostly stay at home, as well as foals and brood mares. Depending on their routines, past history and potential for exposure to certain diseases however, the specifics of the program and the frequency of the shots will vary. Please refer to our vaccination charts for general recommendations.

Parasite control is very important in helping your horse maintain good health and body condition. Environmental management is also very useful in controlling parasite loads.  Removing stool from paddocks and pastures every 2-3 days before the eggs hatch into larvae will greatly reduce pasture contamination. Reducing crowding and avoiding mixing with other horses that are not on a deworming program is strongly recommended. Performing fecal exams for parasite egg counts once a year or every other year can be an effective way of monitoring if your deworming program is working effectively or needs to be re-evaluated.

A good deworming program must include antiparasitic drugs that eliminate round worms, strongyles (large and small), stomach bots, strongyloides, tapeworms, and encysted small strongyles.

Roundworms (ascarids), pinworms, strongyles (large and small), stomach bots, and strongyloides are commonly observed in horses.  A very heavy load will often lead to clinical signs such as poor body condition, weight loss, large "pot-belly" appearance, and a poor hair coat, among others. Fecal tests to check for round worm and strongyle eggs can easily be performed to evaluate your horse. The drugs most commonly used to treat these are ivermectin (Eqvalan, Equimax, among many others), moxidectin (Quest), fenbendazole (Panacur) and pyrantel (Strongid).  Ivermectin and moxidectin are more efficient in treating horses for most roundworms and small strongyles.

Tapeworms can be a cause of colic in horses as they accumulate in the ileo-cecal junction of the horse’s intestine causing obstruction.  Horses with tapeworms often appear in great condition and perform well but may occasionally experience mild colic episodes that resolve with Banamine and walking and eventually may end up having a severe and/or fatal episode that requires colic surgery. Many cases have been confirmed in Western Washington. It is very difficult to detect tapeworm eggs in a traditional fecal test, however there is a blood test available for detection of antibodies against tapeworms in horses. For treatment it is important to include drugs such as praziquantel (included with ivermectin in Equimax and with moxidectin in Quest Plus) or pyrantel at twice the normal dose (Strongid, others) that help in clearing tapeworms in your horse's program.

Small cysts containing small strongyle larvae in a state of hypobiosis often accumulate within the wall of the large intestine over the years. With time, the presence of encysted small strongyles on the wall on the intestine may lead the horse to experience subtle difficulty gaining weight, weight loss, poor condition, suboptimal fat and muscle disposition, mild colics, and watery stool. At some point if the encysted larvae emerge from the cysts, severe illness can occur. This form of parasite cannot be detected in a traditional fecal egg count test and currently we do not have routine diagnostic testing available for these cases. Therefore, it is important to use a product that removes these encysted larvae once a year.  Moxidectin (Quest) is the only drug that reliably eliminates larval small strongyles.  This product is best given in the fall after the first frost. A double dose of fenbendazole given daily for five days (the Panacur PowerPac) has been useful in the past, but the encysted larval stages have begun to develop resistance to this product.  Testing should be performed before routinely relying on this product to eliminate larval stages of parasites on your farm.

In recent years, we have begun to see the development of resistance to our commonly used dewormers.  As a result, we try to follow a targeted deworming protocol to deworm as little as possible and to treat only the horses that need treatment.  Each horse has his/her own innate immunity to parasites; we classify them into groups determined by their predisposition for parasite infection and egg shedding. In a group of adult horses, it has been found that 20-30% of the horses will shed 80% of the parasite eggs; these are the horses that need to be treated more frequently.  The remainder of the horses that shed only 20% of the parasite eggs need to be dewormed far less frequently.  The limits of fecal egg counts are mentioned above: tapeworms and encysted small strongyles are not routinely detected on fecal egg counts.  Because of this, all horses still need to be dewormed twice yearly to treat for these parasites.

We recommend discussing this topic with your veterinarian so that a plan tailored to your particular horse and/or facility condition can be implemented. It is important to remember that the true goal of parasite control is to limit parasite infections so that horses remain healthy and disease free. The goal is not to completely eradicate all parasites from every horse; doing so would lead to drug resistance even sooner.

Recommendations for deworming based on Fecal Egg Counts (only for horses >3 years of age)
Low Shedder (<200 eggs per gram on 2 consecutive fecal egg counts):Spring (March-April): Fecal Egg Count* to make sure still a low shedder, Deworm with Ivermectin (Eqvalan, Ivercare, etc) or Moxidectin/praziquantel (Quest Plus)Fall (September-October): Moxidectin/praziquantel (Quest Plus) or Ivermectin

Moderate Shedder (200-500 eggs per gram on 2 consecutive fecal egg counts):Spring (March-April): Fecal Egg Count*, Ivermectin or Quest PlusSummer (July-August): Pyrantel (if still effective on the farm**)Fall (September-October): Wait at least 2 months after pyrantel and Quest Plus or Ivermectin

High Shedder (>500 eggs per gram on 2 consecutive fecal egg counts):Spring (March-April): Fecal Egg Count*, Ivermectin or Quest PlusSummer (June-July): IvermectinFall (September-October): Quest Plus or IvermectinWinter (January-February): Pyrantel

*Fecal egg counts for classification of horses into shedding categories should be performed a certain period of time after the last dewormer has been administered to allow the parasite population to build up so it can be detected on the test.  At least 8 weeks should pass after pyrantel (Strongid) and fenbendazole (Panacur), at least 12 weeks should pass after ivermectin, and at least 16 weeks should pass after moxidectin.

**To determine if a drug is still effective on the farm, a fecal egg count reduction test should be performed.  This consists of performing a fecal egg count before deworming and again 14 days after deworming with a product.  We look at the percentage of decrease in the fecal egg count to make sure the product is still effective.

Foal Deworming (Mares should be dewormed with ivermectin within 1 month prior to foaling)
2 months: Fenbendazole foal dose daily for 5 consecutive days
4 months: Ivermectin
6 months (or just before weaning): Fecal egg count to determine population of parasites and deworm appropriately (oxibendazole if ascarids predominate or ivermectin if strongyles predominate)
9 months: Pyrantel
12 months: Ivermectin with praziquantel (Equimax, Zimectrin Gold)
Yearlings and Two-year-olds: Deworm as above for high shedders


Barn Wellness package

What is a Barn Wellness Package?
Our doctors come out to your facility four times per year to give vaccinations, perform dental work, and deworm (if applicable). On Barn Wellness Package days, clients who are signed up for the package are charged a reduced rate for the services that are performed.

What are the benefits of establishing a Barn Wellness Package at your facility?

• Ensures that all of the horses are on the same vaccination and deworming schedule to help keep parasite numbers controlled and lower the incidence of virus outbreaks
• We schedule the appointments, which eliminates the risk of overlooking your horses’ preventative care needs
• Keeps veterinary costs down for owners (reduced farm call fee and 20% off vaccines and dewormers)

How do I sign up?
Just call our office or email us to let us know that you would like to be added to the Barn Wellness Package at your facility. In order for our clinic to provide your facility with a Barn Wellness Package, eight or more clients must enroll their horse(s) in our program. Once this requirement is met, we will create a yearly outline for which the services are to be performed. We’ll keep you updated throughout the year as we schedule each Barn Wellness Package day where the doctor will treat your horse for the services that he/she is due for.


Castration

At Northwest Equine Veterinary Associates we provide routine castrations at our clinic or out in the field. Castration is a surgical procedure that removes the testicles from a male horse. The procedure is accomplished using general anesthesia with the horse lying on its side. Our doctors prefer to perform the procedure with the horses lying down for safety reasons and better access to the surgical area during the procedure.

The best age to castrate a colt is dependent on many factors and preferences. One belief is that a colt should not be castrated until skeletally mature to keep him from becoming too tall. Testosterone is believed to aid in closure of the growth plates and therefore if the testicles are removed early the horse will grow taller. However, waiting until the horse reaches maturity (2-3 yrs of age) can lead to stallion like behavior that may not resolve with castration. Many veterinarians prefer to castrate at one year of age or younger, because it decreases the chances of surgical complications and likelihood of unwanted behavior. Colts are typically gelded to make them easier to manage and train, or due to poor breeding potential.

For surgery, the horse needs to be in good health and have both testicles descended. Male animals with one retained testicle are referred to as cryptorchid or “highflanker.” The retained testicle is usually sterile due to the body's high temperature, but will still produce testosterone and cause stallion like behaviors. Cryptorchidism is heritable and will be passed down to the offspring. A more complex surgery is required to remove the retained testicle as it may be in the abdomen. Therefore cryptorchid surgeries are not performed in the field, but at a referral hospital.

Other considerations to keep in mind when planning the surgery are: the time of the year, housing and management. During castration, one to two incisions are made in order to remove the testicles.  These incisions are left open to heal on their own when this procedure is performed in the field.  Mild bleeding from the surgical site is expected, which can attract flies making the height of fly season not ideal.  Since the incisions are open, a clean stall and dry paddock/pasture for 2 weeks are necessary.  After surgery the horse will need to remain quiet for 24 hrs to enable clotting and healing. However, the next day he will need to move around and have forced exercise to decrease the chances of swelling. Swelling of the surgery site is anticipated, but excessive swelling can lead to entrapment of bacteria and cause infection. Therefore a person will need to be available to closely monitor and enforce exercise for two weeks. Keep in mind that though he has been castrated he can still impregnate a mare for approximately 30 days due to sperm remaining in the reproductive tract.

Castration is considered a routine surgical procedure but there are many factors to be aware of when trying to plan. If you have any questions regarding your horse please contact us.


Microchip

Placement of microchips is becoming more common among horse owners to provide a permanent source of identification and proof of ownership. Any horse obtaining an FEI passport is also required to have a microchip placed. Placement of a microchip is a quick procedure that can be performed painlessly with the placement of a local anesthetic. If you are not sure if your horse has a microchip, we can easily check for you, prior to placement.