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Equine Health

In this section, you'll find topics of interest in relation to Equine Health

Failure of Passive Transfer or FPT

Foals are born without protective immunity against infectious disease organisms and require “passive transfer” of infection-fighting proteins called antibodies that are found in the mare’s first milk, or colostrum. If a foal does not obtain enough quality colostrum, they will not be protected from viruses and bacteria. This is referred to as failure of passive transfer (F.P.T.) of immunity and approximately 5-20% of newborn foals are diagnosed with F.P.T. and are at risk for developing serious medical conditions.

Find out more about FPT here 


Why vaccination remains an important part of herd health protection

Infectious diseases are a major cause of concern in both human and veterinary medicine. Both the Covid-19 pandemic in human populations worldwide and the recent EHV-1 (Equine Herpes Virus – 1) neurological outbreak which originated in Valencia, Spain February 2021 have dramatically demonstrated that the introduction of an infectious agent into a susceptible population can have devastating consequences.  A good immunisation program is essential to responsible equine ownership.

Read more about the importance of a having vaccination programme here


Endocrine Metabolic Disorder (EMS)- early diagnosis is important 

Identifying EMS, and taking steps to manage the disorder can allow a horse/pony to live a healthy and productive life. Early diagnosis is important as the prognosis for those horses or ponies who have suffered multiple previous bouts of laminitis and major structural damage to hoof laminae is less favourable. Vets diagnose EMS on the basis of history, clinical examination and the results of blood tests and radiograph/x-ray evidence of subclinical laminitis. 

Read more about Endocrine Metabolic Disorder (EMS) here


Autumn Equine Internal Parasite Control  

The aim of a parasite control programme is not to eradicate or kill all worms but rather to prevent clinical disease, reduce contamination of pasture, and preserve the effectiveness of the anthelmintics which are currently available. There is a growing population of drug-resistant parasites with widespread resistance in small strongyle populations to Fenbendazoles, and Pyrantels, while resistance in ascarid (roundworm) populations to Ivermectin and Moxidectin is common. So we simply must enact effective strategies to control parasites without stimulating more parasites to become resistant or evolve to become resistant.

Read more about Internal Parasite Control here


Stay alert for Sycamore Seed Poisoning 

Equine atypical myopathy, also known as atypical myogloninuria or seasonal pasture myopathy (SPM), a highly fatal muscle disease, is a condition which can affect grazing horses in the spring or autumn caused by consumption of sycamore tree seeds. Each year in Ireland there have been from 6-12 cases diagnosed with perhaps many more occurring, but not identified.  A typical story is of a horse demonstrating initially stiffness and a reluctance to move.  The muscles suddenly become weak to the point the horse can no longer remain standing.  Then, as quickly as clinical signs set in, the horse dies.   Just 48 hours earlier the horse grazed happily at pasture—an overgrazed field full of seed heads and dead leaves.

Read more about Equine Myopathy here


Subfertility can be complex

Subfertility can be complex, multifaceted and affect either or both mare and stallion. For successful conception many different parameters must be met for example adequate hormone production, a healthy uterus, adequate number of progressively motile sperm cells, a healthy oocyte (egg), and the meeting of sperm and oocyte in the correct window of time is required.

Read more about subfertility here


What is Strangles?

Strangles is a disease caused by Streptococcus equi, a bacteria. The infection can range greatly in its signs and symptoms from no symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms, to severe and even fatal consequences. 

The disease doesn’t discriminate – no matter whether your yard is large / small, or if you are experienced or a relatively new owner. It transmits through direct contact between animals or indirectly via equipment, people hands and clothing and can affect any age, sex, or breed of horse/pony.


Some Simple Autumn Checks

Autumn is a good time to make sure that housing is ready to receive animals for the winter ahead if not already completed during the summer months. It is also a time to plan some routine health checks, when foals are weaned, and when nutrition should be reassessed ahead of the winter period. 

Read more here

Equine Asthma

Airway inflammation and mucous accumulation associated with equine asthma makes efficient performance nearly impossible for these horses.Other names have been used to describe this condition – inflammatory airway disease; recurrent airway obstruction, heaves, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

There are many ways by which the management actions around these horses can help along with adaptations to their environment.

Read more on this topic here

Mud Fever

Mud fever is a skin condition that causes irritation, soreness, matted areas of hair, and scabs. It is known also by other names, including dermatitis, greasy heels and cracked heels. The condition is often diagnosed in the autumn/winter months under consistent exposure to wet and muddy conditions.

Read more about mud fever here

Effective Housing Ventilation

Effective ventilation in all equine housing facilities is essential. The objective is to provide fresh air to the horse, and is achieved by providing sufficient openings in the building so that fresh air can enter and stale air can exit. Stale air comprises of moisture, heat, pathogens, dust and ammonia. Stuffy stables and their poor air quality are the result of limited air exchange and /or obstructions to the entry of fresh air to the building or exit (at roof height) of stale air leaving the building.

Read more about housing ventilation here

Importation of Equine Germinal Products

Germinal products include semen, oocytes and embryos intended for artificial reproduction. Deparment of Agriculture Food and the Marine have specific guidelines which must be adhered to in relation to the importation of these products to ensure we presernve the health status of the equine herd in the country and make every effort to guard against potential disease outbreak. 

Read more about importing equine germinal products here

Donkey Health

Donkeys are part of the equine community. However, there are differences that need to be accounted for in the care of donkeys versus horses or ponies. Donkeys in particular show disease in a more restrained or modest way than many of their equine counterparts. Therefore donkey owners need to be especially observant and read the signs from their donkeys better. A dull donkey is often a genuine veterinary emergency. Donkeys are also very susceptible to stress and commonly suffer severely from its effects. 

The donkey sanctuary are a fantastic resource and they have provided a wide range of reading material on the care of donkeys on their website.

Read more about donkey health care here