What is veterinary chiropractic care?
Animal chiropractic focuses on the health and well-being of the neuromuscular and skeletal system. The goal is to restore normal function to the skeletal system and therefore restore normal function to all of the tissues surrounding the vertebrae.
Think of the brain and spinal cord as the major highway of information in the body- these structures need to send and receive information from all parts of the body. These “highways” function in both directions. For example, a sensory nerve will send information from the hand to the brain saying “ouch, that is hot;” The brain translates this information and gives it to a motor nerve, which then actions to move the hand away from the hot object.
Between any two bones (including vertebrae in the spine) there is a joint and if this joint becomes dysfunctional, these signals to and from the central nervous system can become impaired. Some signs of localized dysfunction are subtle, such as muscle tightness or tenderness, and others can be very severe, such as obvious pain, lameness, muscle wasting, and even organ dysfunction.
Who can benefit and how do I know if my horse needs a chiropractic evaluation?
Horses of all types can benefit from chiropractic care. Regular chiropractic care can find and treat issues that may not be leading to overt lameness, and can also prevent certain chronic problems from muscle imbalances, overuse or trauma.
Chiropractic is not meant to replace traditional veterinary medicine. In fact, it is a complement to the systemic well being of the animal by restoring normal neuromuscular function and encouraging correct movement and posture.
What should I expect during a chiropractic evaluation?
At the initial visit, Dr. Wright will gather history about the horse and its daily routine and job, as well as prior diagnosis and treatments.
Next comes observing the horse in motion (in hand, on a lunge, and sometimes under saddle depending on the specific complaint).
Dr. Wright will then palpate the joints throughout the horse’s back, neck, and limbs to determine how each one is moving.
Once restricted joint motion is found, a very precise motion (an adjustment) is applied to encourage the joint to return to normal mobility. Many horses begin to relax, with droopy eyelids, loose lips, relaxing breaths, and licking and chewing once they begin to feel the effects of treatment. Horses are not sedated for chiropractic treatments.
After treatment, Dr. Wright likes the horse to be hand walked for 5-10 minutes so the body can get used to the “correct” neuromuscular signals flowing through the horse’s body.
Who is my veterinary chiropractor?
The IVCA is an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting excellence in the field of Veterinary Chiropractic, which has established consistently high standards of Veterinary Chiropractic through approved educational courses, certification examinations and the membership code of conduct and standard of proficiency. (adapted from the IVCA website www.ivca.de)
Chiropractic is another tool to be used in conjunction with traditional veterinary medicine to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions in our equine companions.
You asked, we listened! A document summarizing this information in Spanish has been created.
What is equine coronavirus (ECoV)?
The ECoV is a species-specific member of the coronavirus family, once a horse ingests ECoV, the virus appears to travel to the small intestine, where it attaches to specific receptors on intestinal cells.From there, the virus particle fuses with the host’s cell and replicates. Loss of epithelial cells results in malabsorption and maldigestion of nutrients and acute diarrhea.
Coronavirus is spread when feces from an infected horse is ingested by another horse (fecal-oral transmission). The virus can also be transmitted when horses make oral contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with infected feces. Stalls, muck forks, manure spreaders, thermometers, hands, and clothing are common fomites (objects or materials that carry infection). Coronavirus is most commonly diagnosed in the winter months.
The incubation period is 2-4 days and infected horses can shed ECoV up to 14 days.
Diagnosis is made by a veterinarian submitting samples for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests of a fecal sample.
Prognosis & Treatment
Horses that do develop clinical signs most often respond to basic supportive care, usually involving fluids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as phenylbutazone or flunixin meglumine. It’s uncommon for horses to die from the disease.
General Biosecurity Tips
Any horse with a fever and no evidence of respiratory illness may have ECoV and feces may be infected.
3% chlorine bleach solution formula: Add 3 gallons of bleach to 2 gallons of water, mix thoroughly.
Please feel free to contact the Starwood Equine office with any questions or concerns
(650) 275-3091 | INFO@STARWOODEQUINE.COM
Fielding C.L. et al. 2015. Disease associated with equine coronavirus infection and high case fatality rate. J Vet Intern Med. Vol 29. Pp 307-310.
Giannitti F. et al. 2015. Necrotizing enteritis and hyperammonemic encephalopathy associated with equine coronavirus infection in equids. Veterinary Pathology. Vol 52(6). Pp1148-1156.
Goodrich E. L. et al. 2018. Novel findings from a beta coronavirus outbreak on an American Miniature Horse breeding farm in upstate New York. Equine Veterinary Journal. Vol 12938. Pp 1-5.
Kooijman L.J. et al. 2017. Seroprevalence and risk factors for infection with equine coronavirus in healthy horses in the USA. The Veterinary Journal. Vol 220. Pp 91-94. Pusterla N et al. 2018. Enteric Coronavirus infection in adult horses. The Veterinary Journal. Vol 231. Pp 13-18.
Pusterla N et al. 2015. Prevalence of equine coronavirus in nasal secretions from horses with fever and upper respiratory tract infection. Veterinary Record. Sept 19.
Most people are familiar with the furious form of rabies thanks to Stephen King’s iconic rabid dog, Cujo. However, there are two presentations of rabies, the more recognizable “furious” form and the less common “dumb” form. Rabies is a zoonotic disease that can affect humans, horses, and other mammals. Rabies is caused by a virus that travels along nerve pathways to reach the central nervous system and brain and is almost always fatal. The virus is transferred when the saliva from an infected animal enters through mucous membranes, like the eyes or mouth, of another animal. Transmission can also occur through open wounds or a bite from an infected animal.
Rabies is difficult to diagnose in horses. Horses typically present with the dumb form with signs that include ataxia and lameness and progress to profuse salivation and inability to swallow. They may also express distress, extreme agitation, and rolling behavior which can be interpreted as colic.
Prevention through vaccination is the best protocol to avoid infection. Rabies is considered a required core vaccine for horses by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), and National Association of Public Health Veterinarians (HASPHV). California regulations allow veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians (RVT) under supervision, and veterinary assistants under direct supervision, to administer the rabies vaccination legally. Having your veterinarian administer the rabies vaccination provides legal documentation of the vaccination in case of infection or if your horse were to bite a human. This also provides vaccination support through the manufacturer in case of side effects or infection after vaccination.
In California, rabies most commonly occurs in wildlife including bats, skunks, and foxes. The California Department of Public Health has designated San Mateo and Santa Clara counties as rabies declaration areas indicating the presence of rabies cases in the county. Vaccinating for rabies protects both your horse from acquiring a fatal disease and the people interacting with your horse from being exposed.
Starwood Equine recommends vaccinating for rabies as part of your horse’s annual core vaccines. If you would like to decline the rabies vaccination, a waiver can be signed and returned to email@example.com or in person at your next appointment. Additional information is available at the California Department of Public Health rabies webpage and the US center for disease control and prevention of rabies webpage.
Reserpine is used as a long-acting sedative for horses and is frequently prescribed to horses with existing injuries that require a slow recovery plan. A low dose sedative can aid in keeping the horse calm during stall rest to prevent re-injury or additional damage.
Reserpine should only be used when prescribed by a veterinarian with specific dosing instructions for the individual horse and situation. While this medication is useful for horses recovering from an injury, there are potential side effects that should be carefully monitored. Horses could have an allergic reaction to this product resulting in facial swelling, hives, itching, shock, seizures, pale gums, and cold limbs. Other side effects include colic, GI upset, diarrhea, and lower limb swelling. If any of these signs are present, owners should discontinue use and contact their veterinarian.
Show season is upon us and the staff at Starwood Equine would like to remind horse owners of the importance of practicing proper biosecurity, as there is always disease risk when horses of unknown health status are intermingling at a competition. While you cannot eliminate the risk, you can reduce it with the following biosecurity tips:
Schedule a wellness exam to ensure that your horse is fit for travel and competition as well as up to date on vaccinations. This is a great time to discuss your showing schedule with your veterinarian to determine if any additional vaccines may be needed based upon your expected travel. It is also a good opportunity to perform Coggins testing, pre-schedule health certificate checks, and record baseline vitals.
If your equine athlete shows signs of fever, nasal discharge, and diarrhea prior to travel it is best to keep the horse home.
Be aware of current disease outbreaks. The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) is a communication system designed to seek and report real time information about disease outbreaks similar to how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerts the human population about diseases in people. Click the link below to sign up for the email alerts.
While on the show grounds, limiting exposure and monitoring your horse will help you to minimize your equine athlete’s risk of disease.
Clean and disinfect your horse's stall(s). One of your first showgrounds tasks should be to disinfect the stalls. Leftover manure, shavings, and dirty walls are potential hazards. Remove all bedding remnants and use a disinfectant of your choice on stall walls, especially built-in feeders. Diluted bleach (8 oz bleach to 1 gallon of water) is an inexpensive disinfectant option. Rinse the stall thoroughly.
Bring your own supplies. Portable stall mats can serve as a barrier between your horse and a dirt floor, which is difficult to disinfect. Using your own feed tubs and water buckets minimizes the chances of your horse accessing nasal secretions from other horses. Avoid sharing of equipment (feed/water buckets, hay bags, grooming tools, tacks, or manure forks) unless thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses. Remember to disinfect these items before and after the show to prevent the spread of disease. Hold showground hoses out of the water when filling buckets to avoid water contamination from those who may have dropped the hose in their bucket before you.
Limit horse-to-horse contact by keeping your horse separated from other horses as much as possible. It is especially important to not allow horses to have nose-to-nose contact. Also, discourage drinking out of communal water sources.
Limit horse-to-human-to-horse contact by limiting the general public’s contact with your horses and your contact with other horses. Wash your hands frequently and keep your own supply of hand sanitizer.
During and after your show, keep a close eye on your horse. Often, a higher temperature is the first indication you’ll see that your horse isn’t well. We recommend taking your equine athlete’s temperature at least once daily. The temperature taken at the wellness exam with your veterinarian will provide you with a baseline for comparison of what is normal for your individual horse. Observe animals daily for signs and symptoms of illness, such as:
If you suspect your horse is getting sick, contact your vet right away to stay ahead of the disease.
Upon returning home from a show, it is recommended that returning horses be isolated from resident horses for 14 days. Monitor horses daily for signs of fever, nasal discharge, and diarrhea. Inanimate objects (water buckets, hay bags, grooming tools, tacks, or manure forks) can serve as fomites, transferring infectious organisms from one location/individual to another. It is best to disinfect these items regularly, especially after arriving home from an event. To avoid spreading anything yourself, wash your hands, shower, and change clothing and shoes before working with horses kept at home.
Horse shows can be great fun, these biosecurity tips can help you to keep your horse safe and healthy through the show season. We love to see all of our equine athletes in action, don't forget to tag #HorsesofStarwood.
Please feel free to print or share a copy of our Horse Show Biosecurity Guide below:
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is a potentially fatal viral disease, transmitted by blood via biting insects. EIA causes severe anemia and fevers and has no cure. The incidence of EIA has been greatly reduced by surveillance through testing (Coggins Test).
A "Coggins" is a blood test that detects antibodies to the Equine Infectious Anemia disease. For your horse to travel across state lines and internationally, a negative Coggins Test is required. Requirements may vary depending on where you are traveling. International travel often requires a horse to have a negative Coggins within 30 days. Most states require proof that a horse has tested negative for EIA within the 12 months prior to travel. However, some states require that horses test EIA negative 60 days prior to entering the state. If you are crossing state lines, with your horse, you will also need a health certificate.
To perform a Coggins Test, a Starwood veterinarian will obtain a blood sample and send it to a USDA accredited laboratory. The sample is submitted with a form which identifies your horse through markings and digital photographs.
To streamline our service, we encourage clients to begin the Coggins and health certificate process at least one week before their planned departure. A RUSH can be done with a 48 hour turn-around time, but additional charges apply.
The only way to definitively diagnose ulcers is through gastroscopy, which involves placing an endoscope into the stomach and looking at its surface. To allow this, the stomach must be empty, so most horses are held off feed for 12 to 24 hours and not allowed to drink water for two to three hours. With light sedation the endoscope is passed through the nostril and down the esophagus into the stomach. The light and camera on the end of the endoscope allow the veterinarian to observe the stomach lining.
See Full Article on Ulcers from AAEP
The following are images from a Gastroscopy performed by Starwood Equine on a competition horse, confirming suspected Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS).
The patient was placed on a regimen of omeprazole and sucralfate and was rechecked 42 days later. The follow up scoping revealed that the ulcers were improving with the prescribed antacid therapy. Below is a screen shot of the healing polyps found on the antrum after treatment.
The treatment doses were tapered following the second scoping. We are happy to report that the patient is much improved since treatment.