For an average pet owner, horses are notoriously difficult to read. But for those who spend their time caring for them, something as simple as an awkward stance can indicate a problem. Here are five things to watch out for, and ways to prevent them:
Melanomas are fairly common in lighter-colored horses. Snap a picture should any changes in skin arise. A veterinary pharmacist should be able to tell you where to go from there. Regular check-ups are required to note any changes in size or color, and biopsies to determine the nature of the melanoma, whether cancerous or benign.
Common among all horses, parasites can be deadly if left unaddressed. Use horse-wormers as directed by a veterinary pharmacist. Usually, a regular schedule is enough to prevent parasites. Talk to your veterinary pharmacist about which horse-worming product is right for your horse. Avoid in-store purchases. You can usually find the same thing online for half the price.
Heaves is the human equivalent to bronchitis, and when it shows up, it’s imperative that you consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible to assess the severity and to discuss treatment options. Signs include cough, shortness of breath, excessive phlegm and even swelling of the muscles around the rib cage. Prevent heaves by keeping your horse outdoors whenever possible. Keep your stable dry.
Regular hoof maintenance is one of the most important aspects of quality equine care. Clip your horse’s hooves regularly. This prevents ingrown hooves and may prevent swelling. Keep a pick nearby to pick out caked dirt or debris and look for signs of pain or distress.
Horses have weak digestive tracts, rendering even minor cases of Colic terminal. Early detection is the key. Look for bloating and signs of physical distress in your horse. Do they gnaw at their sides? Do they paw the ground constantly? Are they agitated? Horses usually stand with their legs apart when they have colic. This is an unmistakable sign of extreme pain. Colic blocks and often twists the entrails of equines to the point where corrective surgery is required.