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At York Animal Hospital we are committed to the health and wellness of your horse. The trend in human and veterinary medicine is moving toward preventative health care. Good preventative care programs include regular exams, fecal examinations, vaccinations, deworming, laboratory screening, as well as, pasture maintenance, and life staging nutrition. We will give you some basic recommendations for equine wellness from foals to adults in the following sections.

A minimum of a yearly examination will allow for more thorough involvement of the veterinarian in your horse’s overall health care. Direct involvement of the veterinarian in preventive health care allows for early detection and correction of problems before they result in life or career threatening disorders and large veterinary bills. This wellness program gives you the opportunity to be proactive in the health care needs of your horse, and reduce the risk of preventable diseases.

It is absolutely essential to a foal’s health to ensure adequate colostrum (mother’s first milk) intake within the first 12 hours of life. An exam by a veterinarian is needed within the first 24 hours of life to ensure that the foal is healthy and without birth defects. Further, dipping the navel in iodine at birth and repeating in 12 hours is highly recommended. A warm, soapy enema may also be needed if the foal is straining to defecate or hasn’t defecated within the first 12 hours of life. A fecal sample should be checked within the first month of life and semiannually thereafter. A high quality diet for growing foals should be gradually introduced starting at about 1 month of age and continuing through the first year of life. Vaccinations and deworming programs should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Adult Horses
We recommend to have them examined 1-2 times yearly. During this time, we will perform a complete physical and dental examination. Any abnormalities noted during exam will be discussed with you at that time. A fecal sample should be checked twice yearly to look for intestinal parasite eggs. The best time to check fecal samples is in the spring and fall. Fecal samples should be collected as fresh as possible and dropped off at the clinic during regular business hours. If a fecal sample is collected and the clinic is closed, the sample can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours without affecting the results. A high quality diet geared for your specific horses needs, whether performance or pleasure, should be fed during this time. Please contact us to discuss vaccination and deworming schedules.

Senior Horses
These older horses should be examined 1-2 times yearly. Fecal samples need to be checked twice yearly as well. During the examinations, bloodwork can be drawn. Bloodwork is the best way to get an overall picture of the horses health second to the examination. Bloodwork allows us to assess all of the major underlying organ functions of the body including kidneys, liver, adrenal glands, thyroid gland, and bone marrow. Bloodwork also provides another means for us to monitor and maintain the horse’s optimum health. A high quality senior horse diet is recommended in order to provide life stage appropriate nutrition that should be slightly lower in protein, higher in fiber, and easily digestible.

Intestinal Parasites
Horses of all ages and breeds are susceptible to many different kinds of intestinal parasites including tapeworms, roundworms, pinworms, strongyles (small and large), hairworms, stomach worms, and bots. Intestinal parasites can cause many different types of damage to the horse including intestinal thickening and damage, ulcers, intestinal obstruction, blood clots (thrombosis), and respiratory infections. Further, many completely normal, healthy appearing horses, have a heavy parasite burden. Each type of parasite has unique characteristics in its life cycle, hardiness, and underlying damage done to the horse. Rotational deworming practices using several different types of products and timing their administration to life cycle stages of the parasites, farm hygiene, and pasture management are essential when designing a complete parasite control program.

Chemical control (oral deworming pastes, granules, liquids) is just one part of a total parasite control plan. Intestinal parasites are primarily spread through manure, so good management is key.

  • Pick up and dispose of manure droppings at least twice weekly.
  • Mow and harrow pastures regularly to break up manure piles and expose immature parasites (larva) to the elements.
  • Rotate pastures by allowing other livestock, such as sheep or cattle, to graze for a minimum of 4 months, therefore, interrupting the life cycles of parasites.
  • Group horses by age to reduce exposure to certain parasites.
  • Keep the number of horses per acre to a minimum to prevent overgrazing and decrease fecal contamination per acre.
  • Use a feeder for hay and grain rather than feeding on the ground.
  • Remove bot eggs quickly and regularly from the horse’s haircoat to prevent ingestion.
  • Rotate deworming agents, not just brand names, to prevent chemical resistance by the parasite.