At Newdigate Vets we take the health of all horses very seriously and do as much as we can to promote and prolong a happy and healthy life, whatever their discipline may be.
Viki Edmondson has a real interest in ageing animals, horses in particular, and we work with owners through every step of your horse’s care helping them to be as comfortable as possible.
There are a few aspects of your horse’s health that need to be maintained:
The older horse, pony or donkey’s teeth can be well worn down in their latter years which can cause problems with their chewing. We recommend that your horse has a dental check at least annually to ensure that their teeth are maintained and the vets can identify any problems that may occur and treat if necessary. If your horse still has a bit in their mouth during their latter years this is even more important.
As your horse moves through their years many aspects of their body change, inside and out. It is important to be aware that what you fed them 10 years previously may not be as beneficial for them now and they may need more of one thing and less of another. We recommend that you discuss your feeding regimen with our vets to ensure they are getting all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they may need. It may be that some supplements could be used in addition to their hard feed, e.g. using oils can help with the chewing of the food, coat quality etc.
As owners it is necessary to monitor the weight of your older horse, pony or donkey. Weight loss is difficult for the older horse as it is much harder to put the weight back on and in some cases can be the sign perhaps of something more sinister. If you have any concerns about the weight loss in your horse, please do not hesitate to call us here at the practice to discuss with a vet.
Vaccinations and Worming
During the latter years of horse’s lives their immune systems are not as good as they once used to be, particularly if they have PPID (Cushings). It is up to us to give them an extra hand by keeping their vaccinations and worming up to date.
Remembering that their natural parasite immunity is not once what it was, owners must realise that older horses are more susceptible to worms and parasites in their systems.
We recommend that you have regular faecal egg counts and ensure that good field management is achieved. Avoidance of over stocking fields, regular poo picking and rotational grazing are all good ways of doing this.
In addition to worming, your horse’s flu and tetanus vaccinations should all be up to date.
Please call us here at the surgery to discuss regular worming options.
PPID – Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (Cushings Disease) is a disease that affects the endocrine (hormonal) system of the horse and pony. The symptoms of these can be:
- A long and sometimes curly coat that doesn’t shed readily
- Increased drinking and urination
- Skin infections
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Frequent respiratory infections
There are a variety of tests we can do for PPID and we will select the one that is most suitable for your horse, but all tests will involve blood sampling.
Currently there is no cure for Cushings but thanks to the advances of equine veterinary medicine there are treatments to control the side effects of hormone overproduction and reduce the risk of laminitis.
If you have any concerns about your horse or pony then do not hesitate to get in touch.
As the horse gets older their joints do too and all horses are at risk of arthritis. We suggest that you keep your horse in regular low level exercise. If it is ridden it is important to remember that the body can change shape quite rapidly and therefore the saddle will need to be checked regularly to maintain the best fit.
This is a vital part of your horse’s body that you can keep maintained with the help of a farrier.
As an owner there are many things you can do to keep your horse’s feet healthy:
- Daily – pick them out with a hoof pick giving you the opportunity to spot any cracks appearing or signs of thrush.
- Weekly- Apply hoof oil to all structures of the foot
- A well balanced diet – contact us for information on supplements available should your horse have particularly ‘weak’ feet.
- Regular farrier appointments (generally every 4-8 weeks)
- Contact a vet immediately if you spot the first signs of lameness
This is a very sensitive subject which needs to be dealt with with care and compassion.
We like to be able to give our clients the opportunity to understand all their reasons and options regarding euthanasia early enough so that when the time comes the client should be able to say goodbye peacefully and with dignity.
It is essential that everyone understands that the horse will die as a result of euthanasia.
When is euthanasia an option?
When the quality of life of the horse deteriorates through very old age or illness it is understandable to want to protect them from pain and suffering.