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Horse Health Problems

Horse Health Problems

Won't it be better if you know what are the common health problems horses face, and treat them before they develop into full-fledged diseases?
Girija Shinde
Owning a horse is a costly affair. First, you spend heavily on its dietary requirements and health, and then, if the horse falls ill, you spend a fortune on its treatment. Luckily, there is no dearth of horse health insurance plans today. But you can cut down the treatment expenses by taking good care of your horse, which includes protecting it from these common health problems.
Colic
Colic is not one particular disease as such. It's a name given to a number of digestive system problems, including intestinal blockage, excessive gas in the intestine, or the more serious―intestine twist. It can be caused as a result of exercising the horse immediately after eating, feeding the horse immediately after exercising, or feeding it too much of green grass. Symptoms of colic include constipation, teeth clenching, stretching the legs out from the body, and kicking. If you see your horse staring at its stomach, it may indicate colic.
If you see any of the above symptoms, make the horse walk around a little. This will help it pass the gas. Do not ignore these symptoms as they can prove fatal. Consult a vet as soon as any of these symptoms are seen. You can prevent this problem by feeding and exercising the horse in the right manner.
Laminitis
Laminitis is a condition that is characterized by inflammation of the digital laminae of a horse. It is caused when the horse is made to work on hard surfaces, overfed with grains, or given water when it is overheated. There are other reasons, like infections and reaction to certain drugs, but they are not as prominent as the ones mentioned previously. The horse will be reluctant to walk if it is affected by laminitis. If only the front hooves are affected, the horse will try to transfer the pressure of its body weight on its back hooves. Heavy breathing and glazed eyes are other symptoms of laminitis.
Other than diagnosing these symptoms, the diagnoses of this condition will also include an x-ray examination of the hooves. Based on the diagnoses, the vet will suggest medication and diet. A healthy diet is in fact a must, when it comes to the prevention of laminitis. Additionally, you need to make sure that you keep the horse away from water bodies after exercise.
Strangles
Strangles in horses is a serious problem, mainly because of the fact that it is contagious. Also known as equine distemper, it is caused by Streptococcus equi. In this condition, the lymph nodes under the horse's throat swell and make it difficult for it to breathe (and thus, the name strangles). Strangles is not fatal, but―like we said before―it can spread to other horses. Other symptoms of strangles include high fever, discharge from the nostrils, poor appetite, and depression. Strangles should be treated immediately as it doesn't take much time for it to spread. The condition can be treated by antibiotics, but your priority should be to prevent it by vaccination.
Other Horse Diseases
Other diseases in horses are worms, arthritis, influenza, mold, equine cushings disease, etc. But these diseases are either not very serious, or are related to a particular breed. Mold, for instance, is only limited to shire horses. It can be prevented by washing the hooves of the horse on a daily basis. To prevent worms, the horse needs to be dewormed regularly. Disease like arthritis are most often seen in old horses.
The saying prevention is better than cure applies to horses as well. So the onus is on you to devote enough time and resources to ensure that your horse doesn't contract any of these diseases.