Category Archives: Medical


Thursday, July 1st, 2021 | Filed under Medical

This information may be repetitive to some, but very valuable to others.  Perhaps there is something in here that you’ve forgotten about or need to do for your horses.  This past week has been very scary here on the West Coast…

Here are 10 tips-from keeping horses hydrated to limiting exercise-on preventing heat-related problems.

Posted by University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine

Meteorologists believe we will continue to produce record hot temperatures throughout northern California. Many horse events are scheduled during this time. Here are 10 important tips from clinicians at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine on preventing heat-related problems in horses.

High environmental temperatures and related heat issues of dehydration, exhaustion, and heat stroke can occur in horses and can produce illness and death. This is serious business and you must take steps to ensure your horse is protected when traveling in a trailer, being ridden on trail rides, or in competition events.

Maintain hydration in your horse by allowing free access to water at all times during hot weather. It is a myth that a hot horse drinking water will experience colic or other medical problems. Never let your horse pass up a chance to drink water. Only horses that have been deprived of water for a significant time (many hours or days) need to have water provided in smaller amounts over time. Let your horse drink on the trail or after a class at a show. Offer some hay and your horse will often drink after eating the hay. Soup-consistency bran or pellet mashes are another means of getting extra water into your horse

Provide shade as much as possible.

Limit what you do with your horse during peak heat:
Ride or compete with your horse in the early mornings when it is cooler.
Ask the ride or event management to consider a change in the program schedule to limit afternoon activities during peak heat.
Shorten your rides.
Go slower and provide frequent breaks for your horse, in shade.
Encourage your horse to drink whenever they want water.

Provide open vents and windows in trailers which can open for cross ventilation (however, don’t let your horse stick its head out while on the road).

Know signs of fatigue and overheating in your horse and stop before more severe signs of heat exhaustion begin.

Common signs of overheating include:

Persistent high respiratory rate that does not come down with rest over 10-30 minutes (normal is 20-40 breaths per minute).
Change in mentation, decreased energy level, and reluctance to keep going.

Dry mucous membranes in the mouth (they should feel “slimy”).
Prolonged capillary refill time. Push on your horse’s gum. They should be pink to start, then it will blanch to white after pressure, and return to pink in approximately one second. Check this at the start of your day and frequently throughout the day. If it is prolonged, your horse is trying to tell you to stop, rest, and provide water. If other signs of colic or muscle pain occur, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Decreased gut sounds. Listen at the start of your day (if you don’t have a stethoscope put your ear on your horse’s flank, behind the ribs). You should hear gurgling sounds on both sides of the belly–that is normal and good. Quiet gut sounds are a warning that your horse may be heading for dehydration or exhaustion.

7. FANS:
If in a barn with limited ventilation, try to arrange more air circulation by careful placement of a barn-safe fan in front of the stall or in the aisle way. Keep electric cords out of reach of horses.

Hose or spray off your horse or pour water from a bucket over your horse: Cool water is fine, and normal temperature (not hot) water is good, too. Evaporation produces cooling and continuous hosing is one of the most effective means of lowering body temperature.

Keep a supply of water available for your horse to drink. Obtain some clean five gallon cans and fill them up with water before you travel.

These might be useful if the horse has been sweating excessively. Only use if they can be followed by access to water to drink. Have a plan outlined by your veterinarian if you have not used electrolytes before, and only use electrolytes specifically made for horses.

-Tips provided by John Madigan, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, ACAW; Gary Magdesian, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVECC; and W. David Wilson, BVMS, MS, MRCVS.

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Have you heard of Cicatrix Syndrome?

Many of you asked if our Bucket Fund mare , Olivia, actually had Cicatrix Syndrome and therefore her tracheostomy was a life-saving measure that needs to stay open.

First off, thank you for making me aware of Cicatrix Syndrome.

And, correct, Olivia does come from Texas where this syndrome persists (along with Florida).

But, according to the vets at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center what Olivia has is not that.

How can they know?  Well, immediately upon intake, they did a test to see if Olivia could breathe with the tracheostomy covered as they, too, wanted to know if this was because of Cicatrix Syndrome.  She could.  She could breathe normally.  So, they determined that whatever caused this hole to be cut in her throat,  it wasn’t Cicatrix Syndrome.

Also, the hole is much larger than a normal tracheostomy, so the vets are stumped as to why she has this hole in her throat.

Having said that, WHAT IS Cicatrix Syndrome?

Cicatrix Syndrome

Here is a link to the original story.

Click image to go to original story

What is Nasopharyngeal Cicatrix Syndrome?
Nasopharyngeal cicatrix syndrome (NCS) is a respiratory condition in which a horse’s larynx (the tube-shaped organ that contains the vocal cords – sometimes called the voice box) and throat become inflamed and irritated due to unknown reasons. The cicatrix refers to a scar that has developed due to the formation of fibrous tissue within a wound. 

In instances of NCS, long-term inflammation thickens the airway by causing layers of scar tissue to form. Without treatment, this process will often continue until the horse is unable to breathe comfortably or entirely. In the case of a full airway blockage, a permanent tracheostomy (often called a tracheotomy) is warranted in order for the horse to breathe freely. The procedure, known as a tracheostomy, is when a surgical opening is created through the neck and into the trachea (windpipe), through which a breathing tube is inserted either permanently or temporarily. 

Veterinarians and horse owners attribute the cause of NCS to various factors. Since most horses are diagnosed with the condition during summer months, it’s reasonable to consider that seasonally-linked irritants such as pollen, insects, algae, mold or bacteria are at least partially responsible for some of the inflammatory response.

Nasopharyngeal cicatrix syndrome (NCS) carries aggravating symptoms such as coughing, nasal discharge, exercise intolerance, flared nostrils, increased heart rate and an extended head and neck. Some horses are labeled roarers because of their extra loud breathing. If a horse develops such symptoms, including noisy breathing, it is advisable to schedule a veterinary appointment to determine if the horse is suffering from a narrowed or constricted airway. 

One unresolved question is why this condition is mostly seen in horses living in Texas and the panhandle region of Florida. Veterinary specialists have been trying to determine why Northern horses present less with nasopharyngeal cicatrix syndrome, though these numbers may be slowly changing. One recent suggestion points toward environmental spraying programs that have been conducted in some states, but not in others. Aside from geography, risk factors that may cause some horses to develop NCS over others include age and exposure to pasture. For example, high pasture turnout greatly increases the likelihood of developing NCS, while a split between turnouts and stall-time appears to have no impact on the development of this condition.

Nasopharyngeal cicatrix syndrome (NCS) is a respiratory condition seen most often in horses living in south-central Texas and the panhandle area of Florida.
Symptoms of Nasopharyngeal Cicatrix Syndrome in Horses
Nasal discharge
Noisy breathing
Extending head and neck
Exercise intolerance
Flared nostrils
Increased heart rate
Causes of Nasopharyngeal Cicatrix Syndrome in Horses
Unclear or undetermined
Environmental factors 
Irritants and allergies
High pasture turn-out
Diagnosis of Nasopharyngeal Cicatrix Syndrome in Horses
The most effective way to diagnose NCS is by taking a close look at the structure of the horse’s throat. This can be done during a procedure called an endoscopy, which uses a camera to determine the existence of inflammation, scar tissue, structural aberrations, and lesions.

These changes may continue to develop and lead to loud or difficult breathing. Upper airway endoscopy is necessary to secure the diagnosis, but also to measure the thickness of the tissue. A biopsy may also be taken to check the health of the tissue.
Treatment of Nasopharyngeal Cicatrix Syndrome in Horses
Surgical treatment may be the best way to make the horse more comfortable. One type of procedure may simply reduce scarring, but in more advanced cases of NCS, and if the airway is constricted enough to cause labored breathing, a tracheostomy may be warranted.

Other options are available, though results appear to be generally negligible. Success varies from horse to horse. Anti-inflammatories, throat sprays, corticosteroids, and other treatments are available through the veterinarian. Removing the horse from the current living environment may be helpful if environmental allergies were found to be causative.
Recovery of Nasopharyngeal Cicatrix Syndrome in Horses
If your horse is diagnosed with NCS, please refer to the veterinarian for the best program for ongoing treatment and care. Some may have the condition resolved surgically, while others may rely on daily anti-inflammatory treatments to keep an open airway. Pay careful attention to any new respiratory sounds or unusual posturing such as a constant stretch or elongation of the neck.


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