Horse Care - When to Call the Vet

It is beautiful when the snow starts falling, because there’s nothing more magical about winter. It’s cold of course, but it also brings about cuddling and family time. One thing that winter can be bad on though is your animals, especially horses. Did you know that horses could have a lot more health problems in the winter than any other season? As the temperature drops a horse tends to get sick faster, especially if they have no protection.


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Some of the major health problems a horse can have are listed below with descriptions and ways to try and prevent them.

Colic is often described as a stomachache. It doesn’t always happen in the wintertime, but the horses are more susceptible to it then. It’s not so much the stomachache; it is the way the horse reacts to having colic. They won’t eat and they tend to lie down and keep getting up, trying to soothe the pain. If the pain is really bad, some will roll and thrash violently. They will kick at their bellies and grind their teeth. If your horse has any of these signs immediately call the vet, because they need to get serious medical help. Are you wondering why they may get colic, or how they could have gotten it? Some major factors are linked to colic in a horse.

Dehydration is one of the reasons a horse may get colic. As winter sets in and it gets colder, horses don’t care to really drink cold water, especially if it’s frozen. They can’t get enough nutrients from the snow, so when they actually do drink, their body temperature starts to drop. The body then has to work double to produce heat. When a horse becomes hydrated the intestines are the first thing affected. This in turn can cause the extreme pain. If you don’t want your horse to get dehydrated in the winter, set a pan of lukewarm water in the barn. You can also fill their water troughs a couple times a day with warm water.

When it’s cold outside everyone loves warm food or hay. This is the problem with overfeeding in the wintertime. People think since its cold out, they should feed the horses more. This can lead to a number of problems. When the food is eaten too fast, it can cause problems such as colic or laminitis, or maybe both. If you need to feed more, feed more hay to make it of a better quality. Or try to feed them about three times a day.

Horses can’t tolerate eating weeds and stalks mixed in hay. They can’t digest it as well as some animals. Make sure the hay is not moldy, that can cause Botulism, and will kill a horse faster than you might even notice.

Another health issue a horse can get is rain rot. It happens when the ground is soggy and wet. The bacteria get between the horses skin and dirt, which protects it. It resembles tiny bumps or large scabbing along the front of the horse’s legs. If not treated immediately, it can spread rapidly. You can try a betadine scrub bath, but for the really bad cases you’ll have to call the vet. Antibiotics will be prescribed for your horse.

You have heard of pneumonia and just like humans can get it, so can horses. It is fluid in the lungs from a viral or bacterial infection. If caught immediately, antibiotics can take care of it, but if you let it go too long you may have a dead horse. Try to keep your horse in a stall in the barn, or some place that is nice and warm. A horse blanket may do the trick and can raise a horse’s body temperature, so they can fight off the infection. Give your horse extra T.L.C. They have feelings and if you pamper them they can get over it faster. If you neglect them, leave them outside, don’t take them to the vet, and treat them like dirt, they will likely not recover. If you don’t have the desire to take an active interest in your horse’s health, then maybe you should ask yourself if you should own a horse. Pneumonia is a live threatening illness if not treated immediately the result may be death.

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