Join us during the month of May to pose your questions to this month's AAEP expert, Dr. Christine Tuma as she answers your questions concerning what to expect when your veterinarian arrives and preperations you should take beforehand.
Question: I am having my veterinarian out next week to do vaccinations on all of my horses. One of my horses is very needle shy and this is the first time I have vaccinated him since I purchased him last year. What should I expect? Is there something I should do for him before she arrives to help calm him?
Another tricky question, as every individual has the potential to act very differently in such situations. Ground manners are key: he should be respectful of human space and not impinge on it, even in fright. He should be comfortable with and stand quietly for examination and palpation all over his body. With needle-shy horses in particular, I ask that the owner take several minutes each day in the time leading up to the appointment to desensitize the horse to intramuscular injections by pinching his neck in several locations, and rewarding calm, quiet behavior. The neck pinch is often utilized by vets just prior to an IM injection to distract the patient just prior to needle penetration. Similarly, the neck pinch has also been said to simulate an insect bite, which is not typically an event that causes great fear or distress. When the vet gets there, if there are still deficits in his ground manners and fear and anxiety are an issue, he or she may employ additional restraint measures such as a lip chain or a nose twitch, both of which release endorphins, which naturally calm and soothe the animal. Additional restraint measures may also include a shoulder or ear twitch which both act as distraction techniques. All else failing, sedation may be necessary to make the situation safe and positive for everyone involved. You may want to contact your vet and make sure there aren't any additional recommendations that they would prefer you employ. Lastly, if needle-shyness becomes a chronic problem or a dangerous situation, I have heard others have had positive results with long-term clicker training. Good luck and be safe!
Question: My mare became tangled in some old barbwire that I was unaware of in her field. She had a large gash on the inside of her upper back leg, which required stitches. Before the vet arrived, we cleaned it with cool water from the hose and sprayed a wound spray and fly spray around the area. The flies are terrible already in the south. My question is should we have waited to use the wound spray and is fly spray safe for open wounds even though we tried to just spray around it?
The only wound dressing/insect repellent that I have had good luck with is SWAT ointment, which is labelled as being safe for application to open wounds. If you're still nervous about using a product on an open wound: try slathering vaseline or petroleum jelly in the wound. It has no insect repellent properties, however, being a thick, sticky product, it will naturally deter insects from landing in/on the wound as well as protect the wound from further contamination from dirt/debris until the vet arrives to assess the situation.
Question: I have a 6-year-old QH gelding, on the overweight side, that recently fell victim to founder. We caught it early and he is 100% now and we have even been able to shed many pounds off of him the last few weeks. It turns out, he also had some thyroid issues on top of the founder, which may have helped lead to this episode. My question is should I have soaked his feet prior to the vet's arrival that following morning? I called the veterinarian the night he became sore and had a hard time moving, but the vet did not arrive until early the following morning. Should I have done anything for him that night?
Yes. I like to cold hose the feet involved 1-2x/day for 20-30 minutes to reduce the inflammation occurring to the lamallae. Following cold hosing, I recommend applying frog support bandages to aid in supporting P3 until the veterinarian arrives to assess the situation and direct farrier efforts. To apply frog support bandages in a cost-effective fashion from supplies you can get from your local farm supply, depending on the # of feet involved, you will need the following:
1 roll brown roll gauze
Apply the gauze roll (do not unroll) lengthwise to the bottom of the frog and secure in place with Vetwrap, weather proof (if needed) with duct tape along the bottom of the foot. Follow up by leaving the horse on stall rest and bedding VERY deeply until the vet gets there. I do not recommend giving any medication unless under the supervision/discretion of the attending veterinarian.
However, omega fatty acids have anti-inflammatory actions, and although not very useful in acute situations, can be used as a daily top dressing to address chronic inflammatory conditions.
If you need to stall overnight to wait for the vet the next day and you're concerned what to feed: I recommend feeding soaked hay, so as to reduce the overall sugar content and also to try not to further exacerbate metabolic causes of founder.
Question: My husband’s horse began colicking violently over the weekend to which we immediately contacted our veterinarian. Unfortuantley, he was unable to rush over since he was already at another call and said he would be there as soon as he could. I have heard that you should walk the horse, but he was rolling around so hard that it was unsafe. We stood there and watched, while trying our best to be patient for the vet. What else could we have done? Our vet did not arrive for another two hours.
This is a tough question. First and foremost is YOUR safety, followed closely by the safety of your horse. If you are able to keep the animal up and walking, you should try. If the animal is severely painful and violently thrashing, risking your safety and his, ......stay clear and don't get hurt.
Hopefully the animal will already have a halter on. If stall-bound: remove extraneous items from the stall such as a water bucket, feed tubs, jolly-balls, mineral blocks, etc...and apply extra bedding to help reduce injuries. If you have an opportunity to throw some quick standing bandages on his legs, that would be helpful in protecting them from secondary injury from thrashing. If you had a little time on your hands before things got bad, I would maybe try to move him to a slightly larger (but still well enclosed and secure) location like an indoor arena where he may have a little more room to thrash about, again, in an attempt to reduce secondary injuries to your horse and potential harm to yourself.
That's really all you can do. I do not recommend administering any medications prior to examination by your veterinarian. And its probably a good idea to keep other veterinarian's phone numbers available for emergencies that your regular vet can't get to in a timely fashion.