Just like every living thing, horses can, and do, get sick. Unfortunately for a horse, their massive size and weight makes them much more difficult to treat than smaller animals, so keeping your horse as healthy as possible is absolutely essential. Horse owners that are new to caring for their new companion should spend some time researching and familiarizing themselves with common health concerns in the horse as well as basic horse first aid treatments.
One of the most common, but also one of the most deadly, conditions that a horse owner need to be able to identify is a condition known as colic. Colic can occur for several different reasons including torsions or twists in the intestines, gas build up in the stomach and digestive tract as well as severe cases of worms that are blocking the food moving through the digestive system. Colic is noted by one or more of the following:
- Kicking or biting at the sides or abdomen
- Horse getting up and lying down, rolling over
- Sweating, panting or heaving
- Pawing the ground continually
Immediately remove all food and call the vet, then keep your horse walking slowly until the vet arrives. Don’t let the horse continue to roll if at all possible.
Other health concerns can be treated by vaccinations, which are administered by the vet either annually, bi-annually or four times a year, depending on how many horses your horse is around and where you travel and live. Vaccinations are essential in preventing very serious and fatal disease, many which can be carried by mosquitoes and other biting flies and insects.
The major vaccinations will vary slightly depending on where you live, but horses should always be vaccinated for the following:
- West Nile Virus
- Equine encephalomyelitis
Each vaccination will have its own schedule but typically they need to be administered at least once a year and in the case of equine encephalomyelitis if you are traveling with the horse you may need to have more vaccinations for different strains of the disease. West Nile virus, another lethal virus carried by mosquitoes similar to equine encephalomyelitis, needs one vaccination per year.
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