"Nice to meet you, I'm sorry it has to be under these circumstances" is a phrase I utter too often. I love meeting new horse owners, but I hope the first time we meet isn't in a pasture...after dark...with a sick horse. For this reason, preventative care is a vital tool to reducing your horse’s health risk and ensuring well-being. Effort spent on prevention of disease and preserving health now, rather than treatment of disease later, pays dividends and prevents many common equine emergencies! With the hope of meeting you under good circumstances, here are our tips for keeping your horse at it's best:
1.) Schedule Your Wellness Exam
We recommend wellness examinations for all of our patients twice a year. Our veterinarians will consult with you about your horse’s diet and intended use, and perform a physical examination, including thorough evaluation of vital signs and irregularities. This exam allows the FVC team to screen for underlying conditions, provide early interventions, and collect important information about your horse for comparison, should an emergency occur.
2.) Stay Current on Vaccinations
Our veterinarians will work with you to create the best plan for your horse. Our clinic follows the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) core vaccination guidelines, which for most horses in our region includes: Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE), Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (WEE), Tetanus, West Nile Virus (WNV), Rabies, and Potomac Horse Fever (PHF). We can protect your horse against all these diseases with just two injections a year.
3.) Control Parasites
Current research suggests that scheduled rotational deworming may actually be contributing to dewormer resistance, and fall short when treating an individual horse’s specific parasite load. We recommend a twice-a-year Fecal Egg Count (FEC), which includes a recommendation from our veterinarians on a targeted deworming protocol for your horse. Just give us a fecal sample for each horse at your annual exam, or drop a sample off at the clinic (one (1) manure “ball” is plenty!), and we’ll perform a “fecal flotation” to look for microscopic parasite eggs. This test may decrease the frequency of deworming or help discover the cause of “hard keepers” that just can’t seem to keep weight on!
4.) Don't Forget Dentistry & Nutrition
Dental problems are a common cause of many issues that plague horses and their owners, including weight loss, wasted feed, head shaking, nasal discharge, facial swelling, and bit issues. Horses have a completely different type of tooth than humans, dogs, or cats, known as “hypsodont”. For most horses, we recommend an annual sedated oral exam to correct any abnormalities. Depending on your horse’s age and dental history, more or less frequent power floating may be necessary. Each horse is an individual, and even with a healthy mouth you may still find your companion is a "hard keeper". Your veterinarian can also provide a Nutritional Consultation to make sure your horse's dietary needs are being met.