Petting an animal is a healthy activity that gives anyone a good level of internal satisfaction intact and also a feeling of companionship. Well! These innocent animals also develop a special bond with the owner and share mutual feelings of trust, love, and affection. However, it is also a fact that it is more of a responsibility to take care of a living being. You need to be vigilant and proactive when it comes to keeping your pet healthy. Although, you need to take extra care of the senior horse health problems as they are prone to diseases more than the younger ones.
However, you do not need to fret at all. Instead, you must understand that some specific breeds have more chances of suffering some particular diseases. Once you have the basic knowledge of these diseases, you will be in a better place to take care of your pets. From the table below, you will find relevant information about the breeds at risk of certain conditions.
Breeds at risk
Smaller or miniature breeds, Thoroughbreds
Equine Cushing’s Disease
No specific breed dispositions
Ponies, especially British native breeds and more massive horses like cob and draught types
Andalusians, Shetland ponies, Morgans
Recurrent Airway Obstruction
Furthermore, you must have basic knowledge about the management of the potential risks and diseases that may affect your horses. Here is precisely what you are looking for. Yes! You will get a detailed account of the different health problems in senior horses, their causes, treatments, and preventive measures.
Well! Your horse may have several dental problems as he grows. Interestingly, he might not exhibit any symptoms whatsoever for a long time. Therefore, this calls for your extra attention and observation about the various behavioral and eating habits. Yes! The leading cause of horses’ dental problems is their natural mechanism of eating and chewing the forage. Since their chewing’s natural mechanism involves the lateral grinding of teeth, this may cause wear and tear of the teeth surfaces.
Types of Dental Problems
However, if you talk about the specific senior horse dental issues, which are the most common, they are many. Yes! Some of them include the overgrowth of some teeth. The growth may happen as a consequence of the jaw’s misalignment, which is called parrot mouth. Besides, your horse may have a displaced or loose cheek tooth.
Similarly, another common issue arises when your horse has a gap between his teeth, as a result of which, the food deposits in the gaps. This condition is, therefore, called Diastema and causes gum issues.
The symptoms of dental issues may not show up in the early stages. Therefore, you have to work with your pet closely. To look for the signs of the senior horse health problems, you may look for the bad breath of your horse. Besides, if your horse is quitting its food outside its stable or around its feeding bucket, you should be aware that it might be suffering from some serious problems. Moreover, if your horse is not feeling hungry or eats its forage slowly, you need to look for the reason.
Similarly, as far as the body language is concerned, you need to see if he is finding it difficult to hold his head. In any such situation, you need to be proactive enough to call for medical help.
Well! You have to consult the vet for dental treatment in any case. Yes! The vet is the right person to perform “Floating” on your horse’s mouth. You may prevent your horse from developing dental problems if you get his dental checkup at least once in a year.
Arthritis is one of the most common bone diseases in horses. As it is related to the bones, medical science also calls it Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). You may observe your horse suffer from the problem as he grows up. Yes! This condition occurs mainly due to the wear and tear of joints due to excessive movement.
When you look for the signs of Arthritis, it is a bit evident. Yes! If your horse has a stiff gait and swelling, especially, in the knee joints, leading to lameness, this is a sign of DJD.
When it comes to the treatment of Arthritis, your vet is in a position to suggest to you. Yes! The X-ray gives you a better idea about the severity of the condition. Unfortunately, you do not have a lot of options when it is about the treatment of Arthritis. All you can do is manage the problem. Yes! Your vet may suggest some anti-inflammatory medicines, which are also non-steroidal.
Besides, you may try to relieve your lovely horse’s pain if you try some injections of hyaluronic acid and corticosteroids. However, your vet is the best person to administer this mode of treatment as they have to inject them directly into the joints.
Equine Cushing’s Disease
You may identify this disease with another name, i.e., Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID). It is a dysfunction of the pituitary gland and is often misunderstood as same as Equine Metabolic Syndrome. PPID is one of the senior horse health issues.
Well! You may check the signs of the PPID quickly. When your horse is growing long curly hairs or observing a delaying pattern in the shedding process, this is an indication of PPID. Moreover, if the horse is not as athletic, this points to some problems. Other significant symptoms of PPID include increased thirst and urination, excessive sweating, fat deposits, especially around the neck area, repeated infections, blindness, and even infertility.
Well! The vets suggest the typical treatment of the PPID after going through various methods such as measurement of the ACTH level while the horse is resting. Besides, they may perform a TRH Stimulation Test besides the routine blood samples.
You can try to manage the condition as unfortunately, there is not much of the treatment available. However, you are not helpless here. You may work closely with your horse on its diet, and the general needs to control the adverse effects of PPID. For example, you need to skip the traditional foods like pastures, treats, and grains. Instead, switch to the multivitamin diet.
If your horse is losing weight for no reason, it is a point of concern for you. However, you do not need to fret. Stay calm and look for the causes of the possible weight loss.
Well! Horses usually lose weight as a secondary symptom of some other underlying issue. For example, problems such as dental issues, malnutrition, lack of diet insight, respiratory issues, and insufficient intake of water may result in the abrupt weight loss of your faithful friend. Especially if you want to look into your senior horse health problems, you will know that the actual reason is different from what you expect.
The weight loss in horses is a bit different thing from the rest of the diseases. You may not observe any symptoms as such, but you can still dig deeper into the matter. All you can do is that you take care of your horse. You have to work closely with your pet to track what it eats and how it behaves. As a result, you will be able to protect your friend from some severe illness lying at the back of the weight loss.
As far as the eye problems are concerned, the horses suffer from various eye issues. The cause of these defects may be very serious or mild. However, the most common causes include allergies, parasites, or other fungal and viral infections.
Some of the significant senior horse health problems are Conjunctivitis, Recurrent Uveitis, Injury & Allergies & Herpes Virus, and Eye worms. Conjunctivitis causes inflammation in the areas surrounding the eyes. Recurrent Uveitis is the leading cause of blindness. Therefore, if you observe the symptoms of this problem, you have to consult the vet immediately. Another form of eye issue is the Injury & Allergies & Herpes Virus, which mostly causes teary eyes, and your horse will find it difficult to open his eyes. Moreover, the various type of eye worms also attacks the horses. If anything like this happens, you need to be proactive to take your friend for medical help.
One of the significant signs of eye issues in your horse is the swelling in the eyelids and appearance of the white layer in the eye. Moreover, if your horse is having redness and inflammation of eyes, this is an indication of a problem. Similarly, the torn or cut eyelids and tumors growing in the areas around the eyelids point towards a potential issue.
Well! You have to consult the vet in any case for the eye problems of your horse. The reason being, they will sedate your pet to check its cornea. Besides, they may administer some ointment or gel to relieve the inflammation in your friendly companion’s eyes.
You can prevent your horse from suffering from the various senior horse health issues by ensuring that the surroundings should be kept as dry as possible. If you have some dampen or humid environment at the stables, you do not encourage the growth of viruses and fungus in the eyes of your beloved pet. Therefore, you need to be careful about the living conditions of your horses.
Laminitis is a condition where your horse may suffer severely from the inflammation of the connecting tissue between the pedal bone and the hoof wall. It is one of the most common health problems in senior horses, resulting in the death of your beloved friend. Therefore, it requires a lot of care and affection from your end so that he may recover and he feels protected.
Laminitis is a painful condition as the pedal bone may rotate within the horse’s hoof with time as it feels the pressure of all the body weight of the horse. Another reason for this condition is some problems in the endocrine system of your horse. Therefore, you have to be sure about the actual cause of Laminitis.
One of the most evident signs of the Laminitis is the lameness. Yes! Your handsome guy might find it difficult to walk through his usual gait, and he may lean backward on his heels while walking. Moreover, even if he is resting somewhere, you might observe him shifting his weight on any one side of the body.
Since this is a severe health issue in senior horses, you need to be vigilant enough to take your horse to the vet as soon as possible. Yes! It may help in timely treatment, which mainly involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Also, they may suggest some foot supports to make sure that the horse does not feel as much pain. These supports include the frog supports and the sole support. Moreover, in some cases, they may recommend a combination of both. Check this post on How To Manage and Treat Laminitis in Horses.
Besides, the vet diagnoses the problem with the help of the x-rays, and to rule out the issues with the endocrine system, they may go for the blood tests.
As horses are naturally athletic, you have to work closely with them when it comes to their joint and bone wear and tear. The best thing you can do here is to keep a close eye on your horse’s behavioral and physical changes. Once you identify that he is suffering from Laminitis, you need to consult the vet at your earliest. However, you may also try to alleviate his pain with the help of an ice pack in the affected area as it will reduce his hoof’s inflammation.
Recurrent Airway Obstruction
Due to the structure and shape of the head, horses are prone to suffer from the throat and respiratory issues. One of these common senior horse health problems is the Recurrent Airway Obstruction. Yes! This is due to the flared nostrils, heave line, and tachypnoea that they are at risk of this problem.
When your horse is suffering from obstructive breathing, you may observe the signs such as wheezing sound, cough, rattling noise, and even over-expanded lungs area. As a result of the excessive production of mucus, you may notice the crackles. This condition is indeed a point of concern. Besides, your horse may exhibit cough and inactivity.
Diagnosis and Treatment
For diagnosis, the vets rely mainly on the history and findings of clinical examination. One of the essential tools for the senior horse health problems, in this respect, is Radiographics. However, they may also resort to some tests to rule out Pneumonia and Pulmonary Fibrosis. As far as treatment is concerned, your vet is the right person to suggest. Mainly, they resort to the combination of two types of medication, such as to relieve the obstruction of the air passage and to reduce the inflammation in the respiratory canal.
When it comes to prevention, you can manage the environment of your horse. Yes, try to avoid the dusty environment. For example, organic hay is the prime source of dust. Therefore, you need to work closely with your friends. The best thing you can do is to keep them on the fresh pastures, where he has the minimal chances of getting in contact with the duct. Besides, you can try to change the diet also. Yes! You may switch to the pelleted food, which brings about a healthy change in their lifestyle.
Parasitic infestation is one of the typical senior horse health problems. Yes! Your horse might have an attack of pests even before you know. Therefore, it calls for careful and observant behavior on your part as an owner. The leading cause of parasitic infection is food. Yes! The fodder which your horse eats may have different things such as parasites, worms, tapeworms, etc. Therefore, you need to keep a close eye on what food he is eating.
The severity of the problem may differ from one horse to another. Consequently, the effects may also vary. For example, a mild infection may go away on its own. However, a moderate level of infestation of worms may lead to severe disease. In the case of your horse suffering from a severe infection, it may cause serious damage to his intestines and stomach. For that matter, you have to be vigilant enough to take him to the vet.
When a horse has parasites in his system, he is prone to get constipation and diarrhea. Therefore, you need to track it all the time. Furthermore, you might observe that your horse is losing weight abruptly in no time. It is yet another indication of the presence of parasites in his body. Another apparent sign appears in the form of the roughness of his hair coat. Moreover, in the case of foals, the growth rate may also slow down. Some other essential symptoms include nasal discharge and cough.
Types of Parasites
- Tapeworms (Anoplocephala perfoliata)
- Stomach bots (Gasterophilus spp.)
- Threadworms (Strongyloides Westeri)
- Bloodworms (Large and Small Strongyle)
- Pinworms (Oxyuris equi) Lungworms Dictyocaulus arnfeldi)
- Roundworms (Ascarids-Parascaris Equorum)
- Neck Threadworm (Onchocerca spp.)
Diagnosis and Treatment
When it comes to the severe parasitic infection, the vets are the best who could handle these senior horse health problems. Yes! You need to take your pet directly to the vet as soon as possible. Try to reach a specialist. They would firstly prefer to go for the stool test to have a closer look at the stool contents. If they find worms, they will proceed further. Also, Chemical analysis is carried out in some cases. However, some specialists even go for x-rays and other radiographic techniques to rule out any possible obstruction or hindrance in the digestive tract.
Well! The procedure varies mainly depending upon the type of worms or parasites present in your horse’s body. Yes! They mostly suggest medicines that may relieve colic, diarrhea, and constipation. Furthermore, a thorough procedure of de-worming may also be indicated by the vet. This procedure helps the horse to get rid of the parasites and makes his life much more comfortable.
Recovery and Prevention
The process of recovery from the parasitic attack may differ with the severity of the issue. However, the best thing you can do as an owner is to prevent him from the infection. You can do this by keeping a clean and healthy environment for your horse. Moreover, you may even resort to disinfect the living area of the horse. This will help you maintain a healthy environment for him. Besides, this practice reduces the recurrence of the infection. Since the immune system in older horses is weak, parasitic infection is one of the most typical senior horse problems.
So, now after going through all the different types of potential senior horse health problems, you must have a clear idea, what, and how to do it. This comprehensive guide is here for all those out there who love their horses. If you are also one of those, you have all the information about the diseases, symptoms, causes, treatments, and even prevention. So, now you may enjoy a blissful and happy life with your beloved companions. Take care of your pet without any fear because now you have the answers to all your questions. Make sure that you bring the best out of them.