Ask the Vet

Q: I think my horse might have Cushing’s Disease but I have been told that the blood tests are not always clear. How do you determine if a horse has Cushing’s Disease or not?

By: Molly Kaplan, DVM A: While there are a number of tests that veterinarians have used in the past to test for Equine Cushing’s Disease or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Disorder (PPID), today there are two main blood tests that veterinarians will use due to improved sensitivity and safety, namely the Resting ACTH test and the… Read more »

Q: “What is Laser Therapy and How Does it Work?” – Heather K.

Jennifer L. Wright, DVM, IVCA A: Three Oaks Equine Veterinary Services uses a Super Pulsed, Low Level (Cold) Laser device called the MR4 ActiVet.  The laser itself is a handheld device, about the size of a flashlight, which emits non-thermal (cold) photons of light.  This light passes through the skin layers to non-invasively alleviate pain, reduce… Read more »

Q: ”I often trail ride with a group of friends. This spring I’ve noticed that while their horses sweat on warm days, my horse hardly feels damp even under his saddle pad. Also, it seems like any amount of exertion causes him to breathe harder or more quickly than he should. Sometimes I will even see his nostrils flaring just standing in the field or in his stall on a warm day, even when we haven’t ridden at all. I haven’t heard him cough and he doesn’t seem sick in any way. Should I be concerned?” –Jessica L.

Jennifer L. Wright, DVM A:  Jessica should definitely be concerned, as it sounds as if her horse may be affected by anhidrosis.  Anhidrosis is defined as a complete or decreased ability to sweat in response to increased body temperature.  This condition can affect any horse, although it seems to be more common in hot, humid… Read more »

Q: A good friend of mine from out of the state wants to bring her retiring performance horse gelding to my farm for boarding. The horse is an off the track Thoroughbred that previously competed quite successfully in the hunters. He is used to being stalled for a significant portion of the day but at my farm will live on full turnout in a large pasture with access to a run in shed. The current farm veterinarian was recently out for his fall wellness visit and on oral examination diagnosed the gelding with EOTRH. I’m not familiar with this disease. Will the gelding be able to retire to my farm as described? Meghan L.

Denise A. Gorondy, DVM A: Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis, also known as EOTRH, is a syndrome in horses that results in mild to severe changes in the incisor teeth and possibly the canine teeth. The disease process results in the resorption or dissolving of both internal and external dental structures to include the periodontal… Read more »

“I am hosting a barrel racing clinic in a few weeks, and riders and horses of varying levels of experience are participating. One participant mentioned to me that her horse has dropped in performance from the 2D level of competition to 4D, but she doesn’t think that he seems overtly lame. I know that we do performance evaluations on my horses to determine if they need any joint injections or other therapies to maintain their top form. I mentioned to her that she may want to ask her veterinarian to do a soundness evaluation on him to see if he needs his hocks injected, or other diagnostics or treatment. Can you speak to my group about joint injections and how to tell if your horse needs them?”

Jennifer L. Wright, DVM A:  For those not familiar with this sport, barrel racing is a speed event in which a horse and rider attempt to complete a specific cloverleaf pattern around barrels placed in a triangular pattern in the fastest time.  Quarterhorse, Appendix Quarterhorse and Thoroughbreds are the predominate breed(s) used, and their ages… Read more »

“I am riding an experienced show jumper that has just recently arrived at our barn. He comes with a history of sacroiliac joint issues. I’m not familiar with this problem and want to make sure we are managing him well. What would you recommend?”

Denise A. Gorondy, DVM A: The sacroiliac joint of the horse is a very important part of the equine musculoskeletal system. The sacroiliac joint is located in the pelvic region of the horse and connects the pelvis to the sacral portion of the vertebral column. The sacroiliac region consists of a joint and multiple ligaments…. Read more »

“My horse is currently living at a boarding facility and one of the other boarder’s horses was diagnosed with Strangles. Should I be worried about my horse?” -Sarah Peters

Dr. Denise A. Gorondy YES, absolutely you should be worried about your horse! Strangles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects horses. It is caused by the bacteria Strep equi that infects the upper respiratory tract of horses. Horses that are exposed to the bacteria will develop clinical signs within 3 – 14 days…. Read more »

“I have heard NEVER worm a foal before 5 months of age but so many are worming many times before that age. What is the correct worming protocol for a baby?”

Jennifer L. Wright, DVM That is a great question, Debbie, because the parasite protocol for foals differs greatly from that recommended for adult horses for 2 primary reasons:  1) the foal’s immune system needs to be allowed to safely mature and develop crucial antibodies against parasites in a controlled manner, and 2) the targeted group… Read more »