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    Horse Diseases and Metabolic Disorders

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    Founder is the inflammation of the feet (laminae) of a horse. Causes- Founder is caused by the overconsumption of carbohydrates, blood poisoning after infection, injury to the bottom of the hooves, and too much weight/pressure placed on a single limb.

    Symptoms- It is typically detected in the front limbs; however, it can occur in any or all limbs. Signs of this disease include the horse being unwilling or hesitant to move or the horse putting all of its weight on the back limbs to relieve pressure from the forelimbs. Foundered horses are often found lying down.

    Prevention- Founder can be prevented by monitoring the horse’s weight, putting it on a specialized diet (restrict excessive eating), daily exercise, and regular hoof care.

    Treatment- When founder is detected, a vet should be contacted. Horses with founder are often put on a diet and given anti-inflammatory medication. Heaves is an airway condition (allergies) of horses also known as recurrent airway obstruction.

    Causes- Heaves is caused by the inhalation of allergens such as molds, dust, hay, and straw. Allergens cause the obstruction of airways in the lung tissue.

    Symptoms- The earliest sign of heaves is a cough. Other signs include wheezing, snot, heavy breathing, they will often flare their nostrils.

    Prevention- Due to the fact that heaves is an allergy, it is harder to prevent; however, allowing horses to be in a pasture and limiting their exposure to dust and hay can help prevent heaves.

    Treatment- There is no cure for heaves; however, the effects of heaves can be reduced and controlled. The allergen causing heaves should be identified and removed from the horse’s environment. If a horse has respiratory issues, a veterinarian should be contacted. Anti-inflammatory medications can be given to help treat heaves. Colic is a digestive system disorder that causes stomach pain in horses.

    Causes- Colic is caused by cramps, gas, overeating, a twisted gut, parasites, dehydration, fatty tumors, and stones in the digestive tract.

    Symptoms- A horse with colic will usually paw at the ground, curl their lip, look at their flank, and roll on the ground. Other symptoms include sweating, abnormal breathing, and lack of apatite.

    Prevention- It can be prevented by making sure the horse has roughage in its diet and fresh, clean water to drink. Horses should have periodic dental checks and a consistent feeding schedule. It is also important to protect your horse from parasites.

    Treatment- Depending on the symptoms and severity of the colic in the horse, it can be treated different ways. It can be treated with medication (ex. pain killers), fluids, nasogastric tubes (decrease gas pressure), or, in severe cases, surgery. Tetanus, or lockjaw, is a bacterial disease.

    Causes- Tetanus is caused by Clostridium tetanii. These bacteria are often found in the digestive tract of animals and in manure. Horses are infected through wounds, typically on the sole of the hooves. It can also be contracted through intestinal ulcers and through the naval (in foals).

    Symptoms- Symptoms of tetanus include muscle stiffness or spasms and sweating. The horse may also hold their tail out and have difficulty moving or eating. Another common sign of tetanus is “the third eyelid starts to protrude across the eye” (VCAhospitals).

    Prevention- Tetanus can be prevented by giving your horse the tetanus toxoid vaccination. It is important to keep up with booster shots. It can also be prevented by keeping wounds clean and covered.

    Treatment- Horses are usually given antibiotics, such as penicillin, to treat tetanus. Antitoxin may also be used.

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    Horse Diseases and Metabolic Disorders. (2021, Sep 24). Retrieved from

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