Our Annual Vaccine Amnesty is back! If your horse is over 12 months old and their vaccines are overdue by 3 months or more we can cut the cost of vaccination. Vaccination against Influenza (“Flu”) is very important if you horse travels to shows, or if you are on a busy yard with other horses going out and about. Flu can spread very quickly between horses and they can become very ill if they are not vaccinated. Tetanus is also a disease we can prevent with vaccination being very reliable which is important as tetanus is almost always deadly!
The cost of your first 2 vaccinations when you restart in March or April will be £60 for Both!
All this can be done on our Zone days with no visit fee!
To book in please call the office on 08458330034, Zone visit days book up well in advance so early booking is advised
Gastroscopy and Gastric ulcers.
Gastroscopy is the gold standard method of investigating digestive problems from the top of the oesophagus all the way to the start of the small intestine depending on the size of the horse. Digestive problems can vary in accordance to what anatomical structure is involved.
What can you investigate with it?
-Stomach problems are the main reason for gastroscopy.
oMost commonly gastric ulceration but can also aid in diagnosing gastric impactions, anatomical abnormalities, or unwanted ingesta (e.g. fishing hooks).
-Oesophageal problems can also be investigated such as obstructions (e.g. chokes) or anatomical abnormalities.
What signs could indicate a Gastric problem?
There are many clinical signs that horses have gastric discomfort or pain, here are some common examples:
-“Girthy” behaviour i.e. unhappy (biting, cow kicking, ears back etc.) being girthed during tacking up, when putting belly straps on rugs and being brushed around lower rib cage area.
-Weight loss, including muscle mass in some cases
-Poor coat condition
-Colic; some horses will get recurrent mild colic episodes if gastric ulceration or irritation is present.
-Poor performance, such as reluctance to go forward or stretch long and low during work.
-Behavioural changes, including aggressive or unhappy behaviour in the stable or every day management.
If your horse shows any of these signs, then call us to discuss it.
How do you do perform gastroscopy?
We carry out gastroscopies regularly at the practice and it is minimally stressful procedure for the horse or pony to have. What is required is for the horse to be starved overnight from approximately 10pm (at the latest) until the morning, and water is removed 1 hour before the procedure is carried out. We are happy to do this at the practice or some owners are happy to do this at home and transport the horse to the clinic in the morning. If horses are bedded on straw, they will often eat this so shavings beds are advised.
We pass an endoscope up the nose to the throat where it is swallowed and is passed down the oesophagus into the stomach. We then inflate the stomach slightly to help us see as much as possible.
What do look for in the stomach?
The stomach is split into two sections, the glandular and non-glandular portions. The non-glandular portion is the top half of the stomach where no mucus is produced and no stomach acid sits in this area and appears baby pink in colour on gastroscopic examination. The glandular portion is the bottom half the stomach which is where the acid sits, and so the walls of the stomach have a mucus lining to protect it. The exit to the stomach, the pylorus, also sits in this area. On gastroscopic examination this area of the stomach is a deep reddish-pink colour.
When ulceration occurs it occurs commonly in two ways, one is “splash-back” lesions which occur in the non-glandular region when acid splashes back onto poorly protected upper area of the stomach. This will then “burn” or irritate the mucosa causing ulceration. This commonly occurs if horses do not have access to ad-lib forage, or fibre before exercise. Fibre in the horses’ diet sits on top of the stomach contents and stops splashing especially when exercised.
The other common ulceration occurs in the glandular (bottom) portion of the stomach when the mucus barrier breaks down and the acid irritates the mucosa underneath. Ulceration in this area quite commonly occurs in horses with either poor gastric output, lowered defences to the mucosa including reduced mucus production.
How do you do perform gastroscopy?
We used medication to help reduce the acidity in the stomach and to protect the mucosa allowing ulcers to heal. These include: -
-Omeprazole (e.g. Gastrogard or Peptizole). This reduces acid production in the stomach.
-Sucralfate can also be used in addition to omeprazole. It works by adding to the protective mucus barrier of the stomach wall.
-Supplements designed for gastric health can also help such as Gastric Aid.
Management changes can also be very important. “Splash-Back” lesions can be dramatically helped with increasing fibre intake and feeding a handful of chaff 30mins before exercise. This then absorbs the excess acid and bulks up the “fibre mat” that floats on the top of the acid pool in the bottom of the stomach stopping splash back during exercise. If the ulceration is in the glandular portion increasing fibre intake can also help.
If there is any concern by your vet that the ulceration is not the only problem but is perhaps being exacerbated, by other conditions they will discuss this with you and will advise further investigations if needed
FARM AND EQUINE The Barn, Holly Tree Farm, Holmes Chapel Road, Lower Withington, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9DT