Posts in category Horses

2017 Equine Rebates

2017 Equine Rebates

We strive to keep your costs as affordable as possible. One way we can do that is to make you aware of generous manufacturer rebates that allow you to get money back on your purchases from our practice.

Merial’s 2017 EQUINE rebates are below. Get your rebate quickly ONLINE, or you can print the form and submit with your receipt.


Equine Parasite Management

Equine Parasite Management

What is a Fecal Egg Count (FEC)?

A fecal egg count is laboratory analysis of an animal’s feces to determine how many internal parasite eggs are being shed into the manure.  This allows us to calculate the number of parasite eggs per gram of manure.

The current recommendation is to deworm based on results of a fecal egg count rather than an every other month rotation.  FEC’s are useful to help us determine:

  • Which dewormers are effective on a particular farm
  • Which horses are high vs low shedders by nature (creating a parasite management program for each horse)
  • How often deworming is necessary

Why Do Some Horses Shed More Eggs Than Others?

Not all horses kept in the same pasture or on the same farm are affected by worms equally. It is estimated that approximately 20% of horses in a herd will carry 80% of the total parasites on a farm!

All horses are exposed to parasites throughout their life.  Some horses develop immunity to parasites and are not as susceptible as other animals. The immune systems of young horses (less than 3 years) and older horses (over 20 years) are more susceptible to parasites and may carry higher loads.

What is a High, Medium, or Low Shedder?

Adult healthy horses consistently carry similar worm burdens through the year, which allows us to customize parasite management plans based on the level of intestinal parasite eggs that they are shedding.

High Shedding horses will need more frequent strategic deworming, compared to Medium or Low shedders.

High Shedders: will have over 500 egs per gram of feces
Medium Shedders: 200-500 eggs per gram of feces
Low Shedders: less than 200 eggs per gram of feces

This allows us to decrease unnecessary use of dewormers by using them strategically in the horses with less natural immunity to intestinal parasites

We recommend a fecal egg count every Spring (April) and again in the Fall (October/November) for some animals. Follow up Fecal Egg Counts may need to be performed at specific times throughout the year depending on your parasite management program.

What else can we do to control Parasites on farm?

  • Don’t overstock your pastures (over grazed pastures increase ingestion of parasite eggs)
  • Regularly dispose of manure and don’t spread onto pastures currently being grazed
  • Drag/harrow paddocks to break up manure piles and leave open for 2-3 weeks
  • Use feeders for hay or grain rather than feeding off the ground
  • Keep foals and weanlings separate from yearlings to help prevent ascarid infections

Why do we care about changing the way we deworm?

Across the country, all types of horse farms have reported resistance to certain dewormer classes.  The most commonly reported resistance is to fenbendazole (sold as Safeguard and Panacur) and ivermectin products.  There are no new dewormers being developed for horses.  Our goal is to be smarter about the way we are using the dewormers we have to minimize resistance.

Deworming Recommendations

Collect and submit a fecal sample on each horse in the spring (March/April). This can be done the day of your annual wellness visit for vaccines/coggins/dental and given to the veterinarian on the farm.

  • For each horse to be tested a fecal sample is submitted BEFORE deworming.
  • To collect a fecal sample:

1.  Collect 2 fecal balls of manure ideally passed within 1-2 hours but definitely less than 24 hours
2.  Place the manure in a plastic ziplock bag, removing all air possible
3.  Store the sample in a refrigerator until it can be picked up or delivered to us.

You will receive a Parasite Management Plan for each horse.

  • Most low shedding horses will have Fecal Egg Counts and be treated biannually (early spring and fall)
  • Moderate and high shedding horses will need additional deworming and strategic Fecal Egg Count Assessments during times of highest parasite risk.
  • Foals and Senior horses will require different strategic deworming programs than mature horses.

To monitor for resistance. Once per year a Fecal Egg Count Reduction should be performed on at least one horse on your farm.

  • Submit a fecal sample just prior to deworming and 10-14 days after deworming depending on dewormer used.
  • Comparing the Fecal Egg Count results from just prior to deworming to those two weeks after deworming helps us determine if this dewormer is still effective for parasites on your farm.

Ensuring Adequate Water Intake During Winter

Winter Horse

Ensuring adequate water intake in cold weather

Here are 3 easy suggestions to ensure your horse is getting enough water in the winter.

1) Provide moist feed when possible.

Soak hay in room-temperature water prior to feeding (offer soaked hay as long as the hay doesn’t turn into haycicles before it is consumed).

Add warm water and a couple of chopped carrots/apples to your horse’s regular grain meal, or introduce a super fiber such as beet pulp into the daily ration, soaking it in warm water before feeding.

Resist the temptation to feed the occasional wheat bran mash, as it causes more harm than good.

2) Keep drinking water from getting too cold or freezing.

The ideal temperature for drinking water is between 45°F and 65°F. In one study, ponies offered hot water (close to 90°F) drank 40% more water than when offered cooler water. (Reference: Kristula, M.A.; McDonnell, S.M. Drinking water temperature affects consumption of water during cold weather in ponies. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 41: 155-160, 1994).

Offer warmer water to horses that are older and may have sensitive teeth, are drinking less than normal amounts, or those with a history of impaction.

3) Ensure horses are consuming adequate levels of salt.

Salt stimulates the thirst response and helps keep horses drinking. At rest, a horse should be eating about 2 oz of salt per day. In most cases this requirement can be met by providing free-choice access to a plain white salt block.

If horses continue to work during the winter, supplement with a well-balanced electrolyte such as ElectrolyteWise™ (using vet code WC15047 at checkout) to ensure proper hydration and electrolyte replacement.


Aural Plaques in Horses

Aural Plaques in Horses

What is it?

Aural plaques in a horse's ear

Aural plaques in a horse’s ear

Aural plaques are white or light yellow growths on the inside of a horse’s ear.  These lesions have a flaky appearance and may resemble “warts”.  Aural plaques are believed to be a result of chronic inflammation caused by a papilloma virus spread by flies and biting insects.  While similar to warts, the lesions in the ear do not spontaneously resolve like the common warts found on younger horses.  Aural plaques tend to affect a single animal in a herd. While the virus is contagious, many animals are immune to it and do not develop aural plaques.

For a small number of horses, aural plaques are just a cosmetic issue that can be ignored.  However, in most cases, aural plaques are a constant source of irritation and pain, particularly when bridling or haltering the horse.   Many owners report that their horse is “head-shy” when attempting to groom around the ears. A horse should be examined by a veterinarian to diagnose aural plaques and rule out other types of tumors or growths that can affect a horse’s ears.

How is it treated?

There have been few successful treatments available for aural plaques until recent years.  We have had great success using a prescription drug called imiquimod 5% (generic for Aldara™), although it does not resolve all cases.  Research has shown that the product provides a long-term resolution in 87.5% of horses treated.  This drug works by stimulating a local inflammatory response, encouraging the horse’s immune system to heal the plaque on its own.

Aural plaques during 2nd treatment week (4th application) with imiquimod 5%

Aural plaques during 2nd treatment week (4th application) with imiquimod 5%

First, the animal is sedated by the veterinarian so that the hair within the ears can be shaved, and all crusts are removed.  Wearing gloves, the ears are treated with imiquimod 5% ointment.  The owner can repeat treatment as directed by the veterinarian. The ears are treated 2-3 times per week and repeated every other week for 2 months.  The ointment causes redness, swelling, and oozing within the ears during treatment. Horses may be restrained using a nose twitch to facilitate treatment.  In some cases, horses may require sedation for each treatment.

As the skin heals in the weeks following the last treatment, the skin surface will resemble that of a normal horse and the hair will regrow.


Photos from University of Minnesota Equine aural plaques at diagnosis, mid-treatment, and after treatment.

Equine “Scratches” – Pastern Dermatitis

Equine “Scratches” – Pastern Dermatitis

Pastern dermatitis (Photo from

Scratches is a common skin condition affecting the lower limbs of horses. Other common names are mud fever, greasy heel, or dew poisoning. The medical term for the condition is pastern dermatitis. The condition is usually characterized by raised, flakey scabs on the pasterns and fetlocks. The skin around these scabs is incredibly sensitive and may ooze at times. One or multiple limbs may be affected, and the animal may appear lame. There are a number of bacterial, viral, fungal, and even parasitic causes of this ailment.

Most cases of pastern dermatitis occur after persistent exposure to wet and muddy environmental conditions. In the winter, longer hair or “feathers” over the pastern can retain moisture on the underlying skin, allowing bacterial overgrowth and inflammation of the skin. Some cases may be caused by daily hosing of the feet and not allowing them to dry. Horses turned out with bell boots should have them removed regularly for grooming and to allow the skin to aerate.

Treatment of pastern dermatitis involves removal of the animal from wet and muddy conditions, removal of the scabs, and daily cleansing with an antiseptic soap. We do not recommend picking the scabs off as the skin is incredibly painful and it is not safe for the handler. We advise clipping hair from around the wounds and cleaning excessive dirt from the area with water and betadine scrub. After rinsing thoroughly, allow the skin to dry. Once the area is dry, apply a salve such as ichthammol 20% (Squire Drawing Salve Grooming Aid), Corona, HealEx, or Desitin to the area for 24 hours. This will soften the scabs and allow them to be easily removed with cleaning. If they are not easily removed, reapply for another 24 hours. Once the scabs are removed, use a betadine or chlorhexidine scrub to clean the skin once daily for 5 days, while continuing to house the animal in a dry area. Severe lameness and/or deep wounds with swelling, excessive heat or white/yellow discharge should warrant a call to your veterinarian.

Prevention is key for pastern dermatitis and may include any of the following:
-Fence horses out of pastures with poor drainage
-Turn out in pasture after dew has evaporated
-Rotate locations in pasture where hay is fed to avoid excessive mud in high traffic areas
-Improve drainage around the water tank
-Provide water tank access instead of allowing horses to drink from creeks
-Routinely groom your horse to prevent mud build-up on legs

NC Has First Reported Case of West Nile Virus

NC Has First Reported Case of West Nile Virus

A 7-year old American Saddlebred gelding in Wake County has been confirmed by IHC at Rollins Diagnostic Lab as the first West Nile Virus positive case for 2014. Onset of clinical signs was around 9/10/14 and the horse was euthanized on 9/11/14; there was no history of WNV vaccination (the horse was negative for rabies and EEE).

What is West Nile encephalitis?

West Nile encephalitis describes an inflammation of the central nervous system, which is caused by infection with West Nile Virus. Prior to 1999 West Nile Virus was found only in Africa, Eastern Europe, and West Asia. In August of 1999 it was identified in the United States.

How do people or animals become infected with West Nile Virus?

People and animals can become infected from the bite of certain kinds of mosquitoes that are infected with the virus. Mosquitoes may pick up the virus when they bite, or take a blood meal, from wild birds that are infected with West Nile Virus. Those mosquitoes may then transmit the virus to people and other animals when biting to take a blood meal. Infection occurs primarily in the late summer or early fall in the northeast and Mid Atlantic regions.

Does infection always lead to illness?

Infection with West Nile Virus does not always lead to signs of illness in people or animals. Horses appear to be a species that is susceptible to infection with the virus. In horses that do become clinically ill, the virus infects the central nervous system and may cause symptoms of encephalitis. Clinical signs of encephalitis in horses may include a general loss of appetite and depression, in addition to any combination of the following signs:

weakness of hind limbs
paralysis of hind limbs
impaired vision
ataxia (weakness)
head pressing
aimless wandering
convulsions (seizures)
inability to swallow
walking in circles

Vaccination of horses is not a guarantee of protection against infection, and does not offer any protection for other animals or people. The best method of prevention of infection with West Nile Virus for people and animals is to reduce the risk of exposure to the mosquitoes that may carry the virus. Reducing the risk involves eliminating mosquito breeding sites to reduce the number of hatching mosquitoes, and to reduce exposure to adult mosquitoes. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, so reduction of breeding sites involves eliminating stagnant water sources. To reduce the number of mosquito breeding sites:

Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, buckets, ceramic pots or other unwanted water-holding containers on your property.
Pay special attention to discarded tires. Tires are important mosquito breeding sites.
Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors. Containers with drainage holes located only on the sides collect enough water to act as mosquito breeding sites.
Clean clogged roof gutters every year. Millions of mosquitoes can breed in roof gutters each season.
Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
Turn over wheelbarrows and don’t let water stagnate in birdbaths.
Empty and refill outdoor water troughs or buckets every few days.
Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
Clean and chlorinate swimming pools when not in use. Mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.
Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property, especially near manure storage areas. Mosquitoes may breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days.
Additional steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of exposure of horses to adult mosquitoes:

Reduce the number of birds in and around the stable area. Eliminate roosting areas in the rafters of the stable. Certain species of wild birds are thought to be the main reservoir for the virus. (Although pigeons have been shown to become infected with West Nile Virus, they do not appear to act as reservoirs and therefore don’t transmit the virus to mosquitoes).
Periodically look around the property for dead birds, such as crows. Dead birds may be reported to the DEP online at anytime of the year. However, suitable birds will only be picked up or tested for WNV between May 1 and September 30. Use gloves to handle dead birds and place the birds in plastic bags.
Topical preparations containing mosquito repellents are available for horses. Read the product label before using.
For help in assessing mosquito exposure risks on your property and for suggested control practices, please contact your county extension office, county Department of Environmental Protection, county Department of Health, or mosquito and pest control company.

Can a horse infected with West Nile Virus infect other horses?

There is no evidence that infected horses can transmit the virus to other animals, people, or mosquitoes. Only a wild bird-mosquito transmission cycle has been proven as a means of transmitting West Nile Virus.

From NC Veterinary Medical Association

Horse owners urged to vaccinate animals against mosquito-borne diseases

Horse owners urged to vaccinate animals against mosquito-borne diseases

CONTACT: Dr. Tom Ray, director
Veterinary Division Livestock Health Programs
Horse owners urged to vaccinate animals against mosquito-borne diseases

RALEIGH – It’s the beginning of mosquito season in North Carolina, which means it’s also time for equine owners to talk to their veterinarians about vaccinating animals against mosquito-borne diseases.

West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis are endemic across North Carolina and can cause illness or death in equine, but can be prevented with a sequence of two vaccines. Last year, there were two reported cases of WNV and 13 cases of EEE, but veterinarians expect that the actual number is higher.

“Now is the time to vaccinate against West Nile Virus and EEE,” State Veterinarian David Marshall said. “Mosquito breeding peaks in August, so starting the vaccination protocol now gives it time to take effect.”

The EEE and WNV vaccinations initially require two shots, three to four weeks apart, for horses, mules and donkeys that have no prior vaccination history. Neither vaccination fully protects the animal until several weeks after the second shot, so it is best to vaccinate as early in the mosquito season as possible. Marshall encourages horse owners to talk to their veterinarians about maintaining the vaccination year-round in North Carolina, since the mosquito season is long.

“In addition to getting animals vaccinated, everyone needs to be extra vigilant now to reduce the breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” Marshall said. “Take the time now to rid your yard and pasture of any standing water to reduce the risk.”

Symptoms of EEE in equine include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death.

Symptoms of WNV in horses can include loss of appetite and depression, fever, weakness or paralysis of hind limbs, convulsions, impaired vision or hyperexcitability.

People, horses and birds can become infected from a mosquito carrying the diseases, but there is no evidence that horses can transmit the virus to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.

Learn to Recognize the Signs of Laminitis


HorseLegsEvery day veterinarians across the country see hundreds of cases of laminitis, a painful disease
that affects the feet of horses. Laminitis results from the disruption of blood flow to the sensitive
and insensitive laminae within the foot, which secure the coffin bone to the hoof wall. While the
exact mechanisms by which the feet are damaged remain a mystery, certain precipitating events
can produce laminitis. Although laminitis occurs in the feet, the underlying cause is often a
disturbance elsewhere in the horse’s body.

As a horse owner, it is important to recognize the signs of laminitis and seek veterinary help

Signs of acute laminitis include the following:

  • Lameness, especially when a horse is turning in circles; shifting lameness when standing
  • Heat in the feet
  • Increased digital pulse in the feet
  • Pain in the toe region when pressure is applied with hoof testers
  • Reluctant or hesitant gait, as if “walking on eggshells”
  • A “sawhorse stance,” with the front feet stretched out in front to alleviate pressure on the toes and the hind feet “camped out” or positioned farther back than normal to bear more weight

Signs of chronic laminitis may include the following:

  • Rings in hoof wall that become wider as they are followed from toe to heel
  • Bruised soles or “stone bruises”
  • Widened white line, commonly called “seedy toe,” with occurrence of blood pockets and/or abscesses
  • Dropped soles or flat feet
  • Thick, “cresty” neck
  • Dished hooves, which are the result of unequal rates of hoof growth

If you suspect laminitis, consider it a medical emergency and notify your veterinarian
immediately. The sooner treatment begins, the better the chance for recovery.

Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

10 Tips for Preventing Colic


HorseLayingDownThe number one killer of horses is colic. Colic is not a disease, but rather a combination of signs that alert us to abdominal pain in the horse. Colic can range from mild to severe, but it should never be ignored. Many of the conditions that cause colic can become life threatening in a relatively short period of time. Only by quickly and accurately recognizing colic – and seeking qualified veterinary help – can the chance for recovery be maximized.

While horses seem predisposed to colic due to the anatomy and function of their digestive tracts, management can play a key role in prevention. Although not every case is avoidable, the following guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) can maximize the horse’s health and reduce the risk of colic:

  1. Establish a daily routine – include feeding and exercise schedules – and stick to it.
  2. Feed a high quality diet comprised primarily of roughage.
  3. Avoid feeding excessive grain and energy-dense supplements. (At least half the horse’s energy should be supplied through hay or forage. A better guide is that twice as much energy should be supplied from a roughage source than from concentrates.)
  4. Divide daily concentrate rations into two or more smaller feedings rather than one large one to avoid overloading the horse’s digestive tract. Hay is best fed free-choice.
  5. Set up a regular parasite control program with the help of your equine practitioner.
  6. Provide exercise and/or turnout on a daily basis. Change the intensity and duration of an exercise regimen gradually.
  7. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. (The only exception is when the horse is excessively hot, and then it should be given small sips of luke-warm water until it has recovered.)
  8. Avoid putting feed on the ground, especially in sandy soils.
  9. Check hay, bedding, pasture, and environment for potentially toxic substances, such as blister beetles, noxious weeds, and other ingestible foreign matter.
  10. Reduce stress. Horses experiencing changes in environment or workloads are at high risk of intestinal dysfunction. Pay special attention to horses when transporting them or changing their surroundings, such as at shows.

Virtually any horse is susceptible to colic. Age, sex, and breed differences in susceptibility seem to be relatively minor. The type of colic seen appears to relate to geographic or regional differences, probably due to environmental factors such as sandy soil or climatic stress. Importantly, what this tells us is that, with conscientious care and management, we have the potential to reduce and control colic, the number one killer of horses.

Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

“Colicky” horses may roll on the ground, bite or kick at their belly, paw at the ground, refuse to eat or drink, repeatedly stretch, sweat, or have decreased to absent manure production. Early intervention is critical for alleviating the horse’s pain and preventing irreversible damage. Please seek veterinary attention if your horse is displaying any of these clinical signs.

Five Tips to Keep Horses Healthier this Winter

Five Tips to Keep Horses Healthier this Winter provides five useful tips for keeping horses healthier during winter.