Recognize and treat horse diseases correctly zooroyal magazin

Horse diseases: How can I help?

Wild horses must always live in fear of predators and therefore cannot afford to show weakness, otherwise they are an easy target for their enemies. Thus, it is sometimes difficult for us to recognize diseases at first sight in our domestic horses. Therefore, above all, attentive observation is called for. Find out here which common equine diseases you should definitely know about as a horse owner.

Colic: always an emergency for horses

If your horse hits its belly with its hooves, it is restless and lies down again and again? If it tends to bleat more, sweats heavily and looks around more often at its belly? If so, it is likely to be suffering from colic. The term "colic" is used to describe first the symptom of abdominal pain. Is not a specific disease with a clear cause.

Possible triggers of abdominal pain include cramps, constipation or flatulence. Psychological stress – for example due to transports, tournaments or ranking fights – can also result in colics. Abdominal pain, however, does not always have to indicate diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The urinary system or the genital organs can also cause problems.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to assess with certainty how big your horse's problems really are based on the behavioral changes that occur. This can only be clarified by a thorough examination. If you suspect that your horse may have colic, call a veterinarian immediately. Only he can make the diagnosis. Recommend the correct therapy. Until the vet arrives, walk your horse and put a light blanket over him in case he sweats.

Sweet itch: itchy plague

Sweet itch is triggered by an allergic reaction. The horses affected by the allergy react mainly to the bites of the female blackfly, sometimes also to other insects. The stings cause an unpleasant itching sensation. Horses try to stop the itching by rubbing themselves in different places at every opportunity. The skin and hair in the area of the mane and tail are damaged. In addition, the itching is made even stronger by the constant rubbing. Over time, rubbing causes bald, scaly patches that develop into open, oozing sores when scratched open. Basically, there is no patent cure for sweet itch. Rather it requires the strict avoidance of contact with the allergy triggers, the insects. Eczema blankets for grazing and staying in the stable at dusk, the main flight time of the unpopular pests, can help. In addition, mild care lotions can relieve itching. Helping the skin to regenerate.

Mildew: wetness and mites

Another typical equine disease is mallenders, a skin inflammation in the bend of the horse's fetlock. It is caused by a combination of different pathogens (mainly mites, often also fungi and bacteria). The multiplication of these organisms is made possible by a damaged skin barrier, which is mainly caused by wetness, frequent hosing down of the legs, unclean and damp stalls or muddy runs. Especially horses with long hair are affected by the disease. Here dirt keeps. Dampness particularly persistent. You should therefore pay attention to the first signs of mallenders, especially in the humid months. It manifests itself by small pustules, reddening of the skin or swellings in the fetlocks. This will quickly turn into scaly, wrinkled, smelly spots, which you should not underestimate under any circumstances. If left untreated, mallenders can quickly lead to chronic skin lesions that require constant treatment. Prevention can be achieved by clean, dry stables and runs and thorough grooming, especially of horses with a lot of pasterns.

Lameness: One symptom, many causes

Lameness is rather a symptom than a causal "disease. Depending on the appearance, the veterinarian speaks, for example, of a "supporting leg lameness" (the animal does not load the legs evenly). In the case of "hang-leg lameness", the leading phase of the leg is noticeably altered. The stride length is then usually shorter than normal. In any case the occurrence is extremely painful for the horse.

Lameness can have very different causes, e.g.B.

– Joint inflammations – Tendon damage – Tendon sheath or bursa inflammations – Muscle tears – Laminitis – Hoof abscess – Hoof corium inflammations – Damage to the skeleton

If you are not quite sure whether your horse is limping or walking differently, then first have the animal shown to you at a walk, and if it is not conspicuous, at a trot, preferably on hard ground (for example on asphalt). You can often hear if the horse is walking in time. If you still can't recognize it, change to soft ground, for example the riding hall floor. You can also ask the person leading the horse to walk a small circle. For some lamenesses it becomes clearer which leg is affected. The exact diagnostics belongs however to the tasks of a veterinary surgeon. He can find out, for example, by means of X-rays and ultrasound or other methods, what the cause of the lameness is.

Laminitis: fatal disease with unclear cause

Another common condition in horses is laminitis. This refers to an inflammation of the hoof corium, which connects the outer visible hoof capsule made of horn to the coffin bone. The cause of this inflammatory reaction is not known for sure, it is suspected that there is a lack of blood supply to the end vessels in the corium. It can be brought about by various triggers, for example poisoning, metabolic disorders, incorrect stress and incorrect nutrition. Robust breeds and overweight horses are often affected. Laminitis is an extremely painful process. Can be life-threatening.

The disease mostly appears on the front legs, rather rarely on the hind legs. a diseased horse shows a "clammy" and "touchy" condition Gait, pushes the hind legs under the belly when standing or lies down a lot. It looks as if the horse does not want to tread, the hooves feel warm, the animal does not move more than necessary especially on hard ground. As soon as you see that your animal is suffering, you should call the vet as soon as possible, because only an early start of therapy offers the chance to cure the disease. In the meantime, the horse should be given relief by cooling the hooves. Either use cold compresses or try putting the affected hooves in a bucket of cold water. A horse that has been affected once is prone to repeat bouts of the disease. A balanced diet and species-specific exercise is the key to preventing the dangerous disease here.

Cough: A serious warning signal

Similar to us, horses can also catch a cold or suffer from allergies. The most common respiratory diseases are infections, parasite infestations or chronic respiratory diseases such as RAO (recurrent airway obstruction) or COB (chronic obstructive bronchitis), which in the worst case lead to damping off. Especially when horses spend a lot of time in dusty stables, chronic respiratory problems such as coughing and dust allergies often develop.

Colds occur mainly when horses are not properly bedded down in winter or when horses are rarely put out to pasture in winter and have to cope with the associated "unfamiliar" temperature fluctuations. Animals kept in open stalls, on the other hand, are much less likely to suffer from respiratory problems, as they are exposed to a lot of fresh air and have ample opportunity to adjust to the changing temperatures of the seasons.

By the way, horses need a much stronger stimulus to cough compared to humans. This means that any coughing of a horse should be a warning signal to the owner.

If your horse has a cold, cold medications prescribed by a veterinarian, such as expectorants, can help. In the case of chronic problems, good stable management is crucial: instead of straw, wood shavings should be used as bedding and only wet hay fed. Dust exposure, e.g. B. by straw bedding near the box, is to be avoided. Access to plenty of fresh air and outdoor exercise are important. Symptoms of respiratory disease are a mucous nasal discharge, increased respiratory frequency, weakness, evtl. Fever or reluctance to eat.

Always keep calm in case of equine diseases

In order to recognize equine diseases, it is good to know how the healthy horse behaves. So always watch your animal well. Anything that seems "abnormal" about your horse may indicate pain. In addition, horses are also prone to certain diseases. If you know, for example, about the predisposition to laminitis or colic, you yourself will recognize the symptoms faster. If the animal is not well once, it means: Keep calm. After all, horses are sensitive creatures. Your panic would only make the animal more insecure. If you are unsure, inform a veterinarian. However, do not try it yourself, otherwise you might hurt your horse more than help it.

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