The Horse

SEP 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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21 September 2018 THE HORSE TheHorse.com one tooth is missing and the opposing tooth is overgrown), hooks (sharp points), shear mouth (malocclusion—when the jaws and teeth don't align—producing marked enamel pointing), and equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hyper- cementosis (EOTRH). Dwyer says she's concerned about the rise of EOTRH, which is a painful disease of the incisor and canine teeth. It often requires surgical extraction of multiple teeth to restore a horse's comfort. Paradis says dental disease probably plays a large role in the incidence of large colon impaction and esophageal choke in older horses. Dental issues often prevent horses from chewing and digesting feed properly, which can lead to these and other conditions, along with weight loss. Eye Issues Two ocular conditions that are part of the eye's normal aging process are cataracts and senile retinopathy (age- related retina damage), says Fernando Malalana, DVM, Dipl. ECEIM, FHEA, MRCVS, RCVS, European specialist in equine internal medicine at the University of Liverpool Equine Hospital, in England. However, other eye conditions relate to a lifetime of accumulated damage from ongoing inflammation inside the eye, he says. Some can be halted if owners pick up on signs early and seek proper treat- ment. Other conditions, such as recurrent uveitis or glaucoma, might progress to the point horses need long-term medica- tion and/or surgery. Dwyer estimates that 1-2% of her practice population loses vision in one or both eyes at some point. "By the time you get to an old horse population, you're going to see a lot of blind or partially blind older horses," she says. "But now a lot more people are maintaining blind horses, and many of those horses still have productive lives." Heart Issues Paradis says it's important for veterinarians to auscultate (listen with a stethoscope) the heart because older horses can develop heart murmurs if the aortic valve becomes leaky with age. Dwyer also says it's extremely common to find heart murmurs in aged horses but, in her experience, it's rare for them to be of clinical concern. However, if she observes clinical signs such as a cough, unusual swelling, or exercise intolerance in these horses, she refers them to an equine cardiologist for a workup. Respiratory Issues When Paradis stud- ied respiratory issues among horses of all ages, she found no difference in their pulmonary function or in lung fluid cytol- ogy (microscopic examination of sampled cells), meaning respiratory issues in older horses are not a result of aging lungs. "If your older horse is having breathing problems, it's probably due to disease, not just because he is old," she says. "If you have an older horse with a cough or increased respiratory rate, it's probably because they have inflammatory airway disease (IAD, a mild condition usually seen in younger equine athletes), and you can treat that. Whereas if it was an aging change, as the lungs started to get worse, there would be nothing you could do." Dwyer adds that heaves (now known as equine asthma, a more severe, chronic condition than IAD) might become worse in affected horses as they age. Cancer Dwyer says cancer is rarer in horses than in dogs or people. However, she says melanomas that began in middle age (around 14-15 years old) might multiply or expand, causing obstruc- tions that create serious issues such as hindered defecation. In addition, she sees squamous cell carcinomas of the penis in older males. What's Involved in Senior Horse Care Dwyer recommends owners help all horses live healthy lives, which includes designing diets to maintain proper weight. Owners should also schedule regular veterinary examinations that encompass all body systems. If veterinar- ians detect anything during an examina- tion, owners can monitor or take steps Schedule at least one eye examination for your senior a year to look for inflammatory conditions. www.biozidegel.com Available In 6 oz. and 20 oz. Jars

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