Summer is finally here. There are a few things you should keep an extra eye on this time of year when it comes to the health of your horse.
1) Hydration: It is very important to make sure your horse has plenty of cool, clean water available to drink. Dehydration can lead to head exhaustion and colic. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the average 1000 pound horse needs to consume about 25 liters of water per day. That amount can double and even triple with increased exercise, lactation or losses from sweat.
2) Insect hypersensitivities: Drought conditions or increased humidity can both bring about a rise in insect populations. Insect bites can lead to multiple small, itchy raised lesions over the horse’s neck and shoulder regions. This summer, make sure to regularly spray your horse with fly spray, use fly masks and sheets to protect sensitive areas, as well as practice environmental management to keep insect populations from multiplying.
3) Plant Awns: Dry pastures without irrigation or poor quality hay tend to contain weeds such as plant awns or foxtails. These plant awns can make very painful ulcers when they get embedded in a horse’s mouth or lips. If the ulcers or infection is severe enough, it can cause a horse to go off feed. Inspecting hay before purchase, as well as spraying and mowing pastures, can help to control this issue.
4) Sand Colic: Many regions of the west coast have sandy soil. The sand is readily available for the horse to consume when eating off the ground or grazing in the pasture, and can cause gastrointestinal irritation leading to diarrhea or impaction colic. Many veterinarians recommend giving a psyllium product for the first seven days of each month. Management practices like feeding horses in feeders or on rubber mats can decrease the consumption of sand. Regular sweeping of stall mats and cleaning feeders are also important management practices to reduce sand consumption.
5) Proper hygiene: Whether you’re traveling away from home for the evening or for a multiple day show, it is important to practice proper biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like EHV-1. Read the recap from the last article here. Clean stalls or pens to remove any organic matter and bedding. Apply a disinfectant like Noble Outfitters Stall Wash to allow adequate contact time prior to stabling your horse. Do not share water buckets, equipment or tack. Limit horse-to-horse contact and human-to-horse contact. Monitor your horse for fever (Above 101.5F) or other signs of disease.
Take these steps to ensure your horse has a happy and healthy summer and decrease the amount of time you will need to spend at your veterinarian’s office.