After a too-long summer, the colder weather is suddenly upon us. Your horse may have slowed down a little, leading you to wonder: are they simply cold or is something more serious going on?
It’s possible for your horse to become “winterized,” so to speak. By inspecting and maintaining their hooves, giving them shelter, offering them extra hay and warm water (that’s no warmer than 65 degrees Fahrenheit and no colder than 45 degrees), and tossing a blanket on them during colder days and nights, your horse can adapt for the cold season ahead.
A winterized horse can still experience pain, whether they spend their days indoors or outdoors. Here are some signs your horse is in discomfort:
- Lameness: Lameness can appear in the front or back limbs. There are different symptoms depending on which set of limbs are in pain. If it’s the back limbs, then keep your eyes out for odd hip movement. Your horse is trying not to step or stand in such a way that hurts them. If it’s the front limbs that are painful, then the horse tends to lower or raise its head to show pain levels. Lameness is typically caused by slips and falls.
- Dehydration: If you fail to provide water to your horse, they can become dehydrated. In equestrians, the symptoms are depression, red gums, red eyes, and skin that doesn’t bounce back if pinched or otherwise touched. Blood protein levels will also often skyrocket, even though that’s not a visible symptom.
- Colic: Your horse may have intense abdominal aches, weight loss, no appetite, and even depression if they have colic. The cold winter temperatures can boost the likelihood of them getting this condition. If you are worried your horse may have colic, you should schedule an appointment with an equine veterinarian.
- Laminitis: Insulin resistance can lead to a condition known as laminitis, as can having had the condition before. A horse’s feet have a supply of vascular veins as well as laminae, or tissue, that allow them to stay warm even in wintry weather. Laminitis alters the circulation of the legs and feet so these areas get less blood. The horse may exhibit lameness. While laminitis is associated with warmer weather, it can also happen in the winter.
- Navicular disease/syndrome: Navicular disease, also known as navicular syndrome, occurs when the horse’s navicular bone breaks down or becomes inflamed. This bone is located near the front hooves. The tissue around the bone may also be damaged. While lameness is a main symptom, it’s much more serious than the other cases of lameness we’ve covered. This lameness can affect mobility.
Those in the North Georgia and Dawsonville areas that want to keep their equine animals healthy all winter long should bring them into All Animals Vet. We can even come to you, checking out your horse in their barn or home. If you have llamas and other cattle, we can look them over, too!
To set up your appointment, give us a call at All Animals Vet at 706-216-8387.