Equine Intra-Articular Osteoarthritis Treatment Options

  • By World Equine Veterinary Association

Epidemiologic data collected from more than 100,000 horses revealed that articular lesions are the most frequent reason owners seek veterinary care for their animals (Pennell et al., 2005). Among equine joint diseases with the greatest impact and clinical relevance in orthopedics, osteoarthritis (OA) remains the most devastating. The condition is often associated with poor performance, early retirement, and a significant financial burden for owners of affected animals.

In humans, OA is classically defined as an age-related joint disease that is one of the main causes of pain and dysfunction in elderly individuals. However, in horses, the condition also affects young animals, indicating that age is not an essential factor for OA development in equids.

Equine OA is a painful and debilitating disease that can develop rapidly (when secondary to trauma) or slowly (months to years), depending on the etiology (cause). It is common in all types of horses; however, it tends to affect joints with a larger and smaller range of movement in sport horses and leisure horses, respectively.

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Atypical rolling, kicking might signal colic in horses

  • By University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

In horses, colic is an ambiguous, potentially dangerous, diagnosis.

“Colic is a description for abdominal pain,” says Annette McCoy, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, an equine surgeon at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, in Urbana. “We use it assuming that the origin of the pain is intestinal, but technically the signs can indicate pain anywhere in the abdomen.”

Three Types of Colic


True intestinal colic can be divided into three types: gas colic, obstructive lesions, and functional obstructions:

  • Gas colic is the simplest and most common type. Just as in other animals, excess gas production in horses can cause mild to moderate discomfort. Luckily this problem can be resolved medically fairly easily, and it carries a positive prognosis.
  • Obstructive lesions are a bit more complicated. In these cases, something blocks the passage of digestive material through the gastrointestinal tract. Non-strangulating obstructive lesions, such as impaction (digestive material itself physically blocking passage), can often be managed medically. However, strangulating obstructive lesions—when an actual twist in the intestine prevents the movement of digestive contents—are surgical emergencies. The faster they are dealt with, the better the prognosis for the horse.
  • Functional obstructions mean there isn’t anything actually in the way of the digestive contents, but something is causing the gut to not move as it should, so food is just sitting there.“Enteritis, which is inflammation of the intestine, is characterized as a functional obstruction,” McCoy says. “This situation can be managed medically, but if the pain is too severe the horse may need to be taken to surgery.”

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Purdue to Build $35M Equine Hospital

Plans are underway to build a $35 million equine hospital at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. School leaders say horses are currently crowded into the existing Large Animal Hospital where they share space with food animals, increasing the risk of disease transmission and over-extending a facility built nearly 60 years ago. Hailed as one of the top veterinary programs in the U.S., the college says the new hospital will accelerate research, update technology and benefit overall horse health.

Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Willie Reed says some of the facilities even pre-date the formation of the college in 1959, making them almost 100 years old. Reed believes the new hospital will increase the college’s success with recruitment and retention of students and staff.

“Many of the 30 veterinary schools [in the U.S.] have had significant building renovation projects in the last 10 to 15 years, and Purdue has fallen behind a little bit,” says Reed. “This will allow us to catch up.”

Physical space is also an issue; the college was built in the 1950s to accommodate about 50 students per class, but 90 are enrolled in the class now entering the four-year program. Reed notes it’s also a challenge to retro-fit aging buildings with cutting-edge technology.

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Getting a Read on Infection in Horses

  • By Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Our horses have many blood components capable of alerting our veterinarians about everything from dehydration status to tissue damage. Scientists have been on the search for substances that act as reliable biomarkers for various problems; these could help remove some of the guesswork when making a diagnosis. Enter serum amyloid A (SAA), a protein the liver produces in the face of inflammation that’s changing the way veterinarians detect infections in horses.

“Serum amyloid A, classified as an acute-phase protein, helps the immune system fight infection early in the course of disease,” says Luis Castro, DVM, a racehorse practitioner with Teigland, Franklin & Brokken, in Boynton Beach, Florida, and Saratoga Springs, New York. “Within a mere six hours of the body being exposed to an infectious agent, the liver produces sufficient levels of SAA that can be measured in the circulation. Normally, SAA levels are negligible. This means that veterinarians can rapidly diagnose a patient with an infectious condition often prior to the development of full-blown clinical signs such as fever, nasal discharge, diarrhea, and more.”

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Stifling the Pain in Horses

  • By Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

The stifle. It’s the largest and one of the most complex joints in the horse’s body. It’s also key to smooth locomotion, transferring energy seamlessly from the large hind-end muscles to the long, delicate lower-limb bones. The stifle helps propel horses across turf, over obstacles, and around tight corners. Not surprisingly, with such huge forces centered on two bones cushioned by two small cartilaginous discs, injury to the stifle generally has a profound negative impact on performance.

“Stifle injuries account for a substantial number of injuries in sport horses,” says David Frisbie, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, professor of equine surgery at Colorado State University’s (CSU) Equine Orthopaedic Research Center, in Fort Collins. Although the exact prevalence of stifle injuries remains unknown, Frisbie estimates that approximately 40% of sport horse injuries can be associated with the stifle.

Chris Kawcak, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, a professor of orthopedics also at CSU, agrees that stifle injuries are a risk for any athletic horse but adds that they’re more prevalent in some disciplines than others. Veterinarians typically see them more frequently in Western performance horses, for instance, than in adult Thoroughbred racehorses.

While the stifle joint’s repetitive forward and backward motion during racing, or any high-speed work, can cause injury, “it’s the lateral-to-medial rotational movements of Western performance horses that tend to put significant stress on the soft tissue and cartilage in the joints,” Kawcak says—in other words, the quick side-to-side movements of spinning, cutting, and running barrels.

Regardless of breed and discipline, joint anatomy remains the same, and how veterinarians diagnose and treat common stifle injuries is transferable. In this article we’ll review stifle anatomy briefly and describe injury diagnosis. And while developmental orthopedic disorders also can result in stifle injury, they have a different cause and are diagnosed and treated differently, so we’ll skip them in this discussion. We’ll also describe the newest methods of treating common stifle injuries.

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What Shape are My Horse’s Feet In?

By Stephanie J. Corum, MS

Many horse owners spend an extraordinary amount of time fretting over their horses’ feet, believing soundness is impossible because the animals’ hooves don’t match those depicted in anatomy textbooks. So says Maryland-based farrier Darren Greaves, CJF, who notes that the “ideal” foot is quite rare. In most cases, Greaves stresses that deviations from optimal angles and shape are not the end of the world. Rather, with consistent, proper care farriers and horse owners can manage most hoof types, and horses can function successfully in their designated capacities.

Greaves and Scott McKendrick, CJF, of Trenton, Utah, share the very basics of seeking hoof balance and recognizing common foot problems.

Striking a Balance


A balanced hoof allows the horse to travel across the ground better, and this hoof balance is a farrier’s primary concern when trimming and shoeing. Make sure the horse is standing square on flat, level ground while you evaluate hoof balance. Good foot balance (although it will vary among each individual horse) consists of:

  1. Equal medial/lateral size and shape (the foot’s inner and outer quarters, or edges, land evenly when the horse walks);
  2. Anterior/posterior balance, in which the foot can be divided evenly at the widest part of the hoof from front to back;
  3. A straight hoof-pastern angle (there’s a straight line from the pastern down the front of the hoof wall);
  4. Easy breakover (the toe is not too long and is squared, rounded, or rolled to allow for easier movement);
  5. Adequate heel support (if shod, the shoe extends to the end of the hoof wall to support the back of the leg); and
  6. A hairline (coronary band) that is parallel to the ground.

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South Carolina suspends some livestock evacuation requirements ahead of Hurricane Irma

By Amanda Shaw

CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) - Clemson Livestock-Poultry Health which oversees animal health issues in the state has issued an order suspending some requirements for interstate transport of animals as South Carolina braces for possible impacts from Hurricane Irma.

The order remains in effect until the end of September and allows owners of large animals such as horses, cattle, swine and goats, to speed up evacuations ahead of the storm.

“Due to potential emergency conditions that appear likely due to Hurricane Irma, South Carolina will make temporary exceptions to the regulations governing the importation and exportation of animals coming into and leaving South Carolina,” said State Veterinarian Boyd Parr. “All animals moving under these exceptions are expected to return to their state of origin no later than Sept. 30 unless the order is extended or revised.”

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