09 Sep 2013

Prescription for Rainy Day Blues?

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I guess one could practice veterinary medicine for hundreds of years and still experience a new phenomenon and not be surprised. That being said, I have been somewhat mystified with the near devastating effect this wet and muddy summer has had on the health of our local horse population.

My horses, like many others, are mostly unshod as they are young. They stay outside in beautiful clean pastures, yet frequently choose to congregate in the wet, mucky areas around barns and water troughs. Prolonged exposure to these wet conditions have resulted in soggy, mucky, shelly, and trench footed feet. I have found that their heels, or “quarter” walls, are separating and getting packed with black “muck.” If the quarter area separates and packs deeply enough, it would eventually create an abscess or very painful inflammation of the soft inner tissue of the wall and sole. The treatment that has worked well for us in nearly all cases is to pare out the holes and cracks full of “black pack,” take off enough wall so no hole or cup is left and then bandage with a sterilizing solution of strong iodine mixed with a judicious amount of formalin. This “seedy heel,” as apposed to the more common “seedy toe,” is quite unusual to me. Sadly, I have attended some horses with this that I have left with bandages on all four feet. Four or five of them have been mine, and the “vet bills” are killing me!

We have also encountered perhaps a dozen or so horses that are depressed, not eating, exhibiting mild colic, and consistently running a fever of 104 or better. They will eat hay or grass but no grain. It’s not the typical 3 day virus we have experienced in the past. They usually will not cough or get snotty noses and blood work tests for tick borne maladies (Lyme disease, etc.) come back normal. Banamine works wonders for the fever for perhaps eight hours then the fever returns. With several horses this cycle has persisted for a week or more. They usually finally get back to normal, but some will still refuse grain for a while.

And finally, as I mentioned earlier this summer, rain rot has been rampant. Rain rot, left unchecked, can be quite a struggle to get under control. But it is quite treatable if you know where to start. This you can read about that in my previous blog, Equine Rain Rot.

I think the ultimate prescription for our horses suffering from these, “Rainy Day Blues,” would be a good a stint in an Arizona desert. Joking aside, keep a close eye on your animals during these soggy days. Look out for unusual symptoms, do what you can to keep their feet dry and give us a call if you need us!

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