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Equine Education

 

Reproduction

The equine veterinarians at Heartland are dedicated to providing a wide range of reproductive technologies.  Here is a list of the various services we provide:

  • Breeding soundness examination
  • Ultrasound examination for heat detection and pregnancy diagnosis
  • Artificial insemination with both fresh and frozen semen
  • Post-breeding evaluation and therapies
  • Estrus synchronization
  • Vaginal speculum examination
  • Dealing with the infertile mare (uterine culture/cytology)
  • Hormone analysis and supplementation protocols
  • Pre- and post-foaling preventative health care
  • Foaling assistance
  • Foal and weanling management programs
  • 24-hour emergency service   

Do you have a mare that you would like to breed?? Do you have questions about equine reproduction? If so, please contact us at Heartland Veterinary Services!

 

Equine - Dentistry

Horses only get one set of teeth that continuously erupt throughout their lifetime.  For this reason, dental care is an important part of your horse’s overall preventative healthcare plan.  Heartland Veterinary Services offerss comprehensive dental care including oral examinations, routine dental floating, correctional floating and extraction of wolf teeth and molars.
 
As horses’ teeth erupt and wear they can form sharp enamel points that cause ulcers on the cheeks and tongue.  Dental problems can lead to poor performance, weight loss and other health issues.  Signs that your horse may have a dental problem include difficulty chewing, dropping feed, head-shaking, problems with the bit or bridle as well as weight loss and colic.
 
We recommend a dental exam every year as part of your horse’s annual wellness exam.  Early diagnosis is the key to the successful treatment and correction of dental abnormalities, including malocclusions, fractured or missing teeth.  Maintenance dental care involves the removal (“floating”) of sharp enamel points and correction of any malocclusions to improve oral comfort and encourage a natural and balanced wearing of the teeth.
 
Dental floats are performed under light sedation and a variety of specialized dental instruments are utilized including a full mouth speculum, a light source, hand floats and an electric Powerfloat.  Dental charts are used to track corrections and keep records of overall dental health.  Some horses require only 1 or 2 dental floats in their lifetime, but many require dental floats every 2 or 3 years.  An oral examination performed by your veterinarian is the first step in determining your horse’s overall oral health and need for dental care.

 

Ageing your horse

By looking at your horses teeth you will be able to judge how old they are. As a horse gets older the tooth shape changes and different signs are visible allowing you to roughly judge your horses age. The younger the horse the rounder the shape of the teeth will be with age the shape turns to more of a triangle then rectangular shape, getting longer and more sloped as

time goes on.

  • Tables - These are the visible surface of the incisors.
  • Cup - Is the central part of the infundubulum and in a younger horse it will be round in shape and gets worn away as the horse gets older until just a smallenamel mark is left. At  the age of 6 the lower jaw central incisors lose their cup  followed by the Intermediate Incisors at the age of 7 and the corner incisors at the age of 8. The upper incisors follow the same pattern with the upper central incisors losing their cup at 9, the intermediate at 10 and the upper corner incisors at 11 years old.
  • Canine teeth or Tushes appear around 4 to 5 years of age.
  • Mark or Dental star - This is the inner pulp cavity and first appears on the lower central incisors at the age of 6 showing itself as a thin dark line that sits in front of the cup. The intermediate incisors show their Dental star at 7 years of age and the corner incisors at 8 years old.
  • Hook - This appears on the upper corner incisors and is when the incisors grows longer at the back and hooks itself over the edge of the lower incisors, this hook will be worn away by the age of 8. A horse can also have a hook appear at the age of 13/14 years of age which again will wear away within a year.
  • Galvaynes groove - At approximately 10 years of age a small groove will start to grow down from the upper corner incisor, this groove will carry on down the incisor tooth and will reach the end at around 20 years old, it then starts to vanish and will have disappeared by the time the horse reaches the age of 30 years old.

 

Equine - Vaccination

Vaccination is an important part of your horse’s preventative health care program. We encourage all of our clients to have their horses vaccinated against Rabies, Tetanus and West Nile Virus on a yearly basis. Depending on your horses “lifestyle” we may also recommend some other vaccinations to help keep him or her healthy. These include Equine Influenza, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis, Rhinopneumonitis (abortion strain), and Strangles.
 
Always let us know if you intend to travel with your horse as some areas of the world have diseases that you may not routinely vaccinate against!  Please contact us at Heartland Veterinary Services if you have any questions or if you would like us to help you develop a preventative horse health care program for you and your equine companions!!
 
Rabies – Rabies virus is spread by the saliva of an infected animal (bite wound). Raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks are the most common carriers. Humans can also become infected. Clinical signs can include loss of co-ordination, blindness, difficulty swallowing and aggression.  Seizures, paralysis, coma and death occur in 3-10 days. While the risk of contracting rabies is low, it is 100% fatal, therefore yearly vaccination is strongly recommended.
 
Tetanus  - Caused by an anaerobic spore forming bacteria called Clostridium tetani.  It is commonly found in the intestinal tract and manure of horses and can survive in the environment for years.  Infection occurs via deep puncture wound, foals’ navel and castration site contamination. The bacteria produce an exotoxin that leads to the following clinical signs; mild stiffness of neck and extended tail progressing to rigid saw-horse stance and retracted eyeball. This disease can be fatal! Treatment includes high doses of penicillin and tetanus antitoxin. Annual vaccination is extremely successful in protecting your horse against this disease.
 
West Nile Virus – West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes.  Humans, horses, birds, dogs, cats etc. are all susceptible.  Infected horses demonstrate a loss of appetite depression, fever, muscle weakness, head pressing, blindness, coma and death. Horses that are vaccinated against West Nile Virus are much more likely to survive the infection than those that are unvaccinated.  While there have been very few reported cases of this disease in recent years in SW Ontario, mosquito pools have been determined to be POSITIVE.  The veterinarians at Heartland recommend that every horse be protected against this potentially fatal illness.
 
Equine Influenza – This is a highly contagious virus that is commonly spread through the air by coughing and sneezing.  Horses that show/travel are at highest risk but those kept at boarding barns where horses may come and go are also at and increased risk.  This disease causes fever, inappetance, coughing and nasal discharge. In rare cases the infection can become so severe that it is fatal. The vaccine may not prevent “infection” with this virus but the severity of the disease, the duration of the illness, and shedding of the virus to others is reduced by vaccination.  If your horse fits the above risk factors you need to consider having your horse vaccinated against Equine Influenza.
 
Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis (EEE and WEE) – EEE and WEE are viruses that are spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Migrating birds and infected mosquito pools are the reservoir for horses in our area. Humans can become infected! This disease is much more common in the USA however it has been identified in horses in the Midland area of Ontario in 2010. Infection with EEE causes sudden and severe neurological signs including fever, inappetance, head pressing, blindness, aggression, recumbency and death.
 
Rhinopneumonitis – Rhinopneumonitis is caused by equine herpes virus types 1 and 4. Horses can be sub-clinical or “latent” carriers and show signs of illness and spread the disease when stressed.  It is spread by inhalation or ingestion and can cause fever, nasal discharge, cough and in some cases neurological disease.  One very important feature of this virus is that it causes abortion in pregnant mares.  The vets at Heartland recommend that ALL pregnant mares receive this vaccine at 5, 7 and 9 months of gestation to protect against abortion.

 

Equine - Deworming

Parasite control is an essential part of your horses’ preventative health care program. Parasites are very common in horses and are transmitted by the fecal-oral route.  This means that when an infected horse defecates in the pasture, the eggs are then able to develop into larva which crawl away from the feces and climb up a blade of grass which another horse ingests while grazing...and the cycle repeats over and over again. Parasites can cause a number of health issues in the horse including weight loss, ill thrift, diarrhea, colic and in severe cases, death.
 
In recent years traditional deworming programs have been re-examined due to developing drug resistance of equine parasites to the deworming medications available.  Drug resistance has been identified in 2 of the most important parasites equine veterinarians are concerned about – small strongyles (main parasite of adult horses) and roundworms (main parasite in young horses).  Much of this resistance is as a result of the excessive and inappropriate use of deworming products.  There are a variety of classes of anti-parasite drugs and once resistance develops to one product in that class, ALL of the remaining products in that class are rendered useless against that parasite.
 
To try to reduce the “resistance issue” there are steps that you can do to try to control parasites.  These include pasture management, conscientious use of deworming products, and monitoring the level of parasites on your farm.
 
Pasture Management:

  • Remove manure from the pasture 2-3x per week - removing the feces will remove the parasite eggs and reduce chances of your horse ingesting a larva!
  • Reduce stocking density (ideally 1 horse per 2 acres) – spreading out the horses will reduce the chances that your horse will have to eat grass next to a pile of feces!
  • Pasture Rotation – a pasture is only considered clean after a winter has past and the pasture has not been grazed until the END of JUNE! Young horses are at highest risk, so keep them on the cleanest pasture.

Use of Dewormers:

  • Work with your veterinarian to create a program that works for you.  Programs differ between foals/young horses and adults – make sure you develop a plan to deal with each group of animals!
  • All horses on a farm should be on the same program.
  • Weigh your horses with a weight tape to ensure dosing is adequate!!

Monitor Your Program:

  • Submit fecal samples to a Heartland Veterinary Services office or have your veterinarian collect a sample to have it tested for parasite eggs.  A fecal egg count can help us assess not only what type of parasites are affecting your horse, but also how heavy of a burden he is carrying.  A second count can be performed after deworming medication is administered to determine if the parasites on your farm are becoming resistant to that particular drug.
  • If the fecal test reveals no parasite eggs found you may be able to skip a treatment with dewormer!
  • Once you have been monitoring the parasites on your farm diligently, the Heartland Equine Vets can develop a more targeted program for your farm in which only certain horses may require treatment.

Equine - Imaging

 

 

Heartland Veterinary Services offers conventional portable radiography (X-ray) as well as ultrasound imaging.

 

Radiography is the best form of imaging for bones and joints.  Our veterinarians are equipped with portable radiology equipment that allows them to perform radiographs on your farm.  With the assistance of a veterinary technician, we can image your horse in the comfort of his or her own barn.  These films are then taken back to the clinic to be developed and evaluated so that a diagnosis and individualized treatment plan can be implemented for your horse.  We have the ability to perform radiographs of the limbs as well as the skull and teeth.

Ultrasound is ideal for imaging of soft tissue structures including tendons and ligaments as well as the reproductive organs.  Heartland Veterinary Services has several ultrasound machines that can be utilized for different purposes.  We have a smaller, lightweight machine that is ideal for reproductive ultrasounds including tracking heat cycles and diagnosing pregnancy.  We also have a larger, higher definition machine that is better for the assessment of tendon and ligament injuries.

 

Both of these machines are portable and ultrasound imaging can be performed on farm. With the combined ability of both machines, we are able to image tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, eyes, superficial abdominal structures and lungs as well as the reproductive tract and even perform fetal sexing.

 

Equine - Links

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