Preventative or wellness care isn’t only for cats, dogs and other domestic pets. It can also help your equine live a healthier, better quality and longer life – and who doesn’t want that for their beloved horse? Much like other animals, horses have a significantly shorter lifespan than our own. However, since their lives progress more quickly, so too do any health problems that may affect them. A condition or disease that would take years to develop in a human could have serious consequences for your horse after only a few months.
The sooner any potential illness or health problem is identified, the quicker the relevant management or treatment can be sought, and this can make a huge difference to the overall outcome of the condition for your horse. In some cases, it may even be possible to prevent your equine from becoming unwell or suffering from a health-related issue in the first place.
Annual wellness exams for your horse can track and monitor his health and condition, and help ensure that he is as fit and healthy as possible.
How do I know if my horse is unwell?
The biggest challenge for you as his owner is actually sussing out that your horse needs medical attention. Since he cannot verbalize how he is feeling or if he is pain, he is completely reliant on you spotting the signs and changes in behavior that would indicate that something just isn’t quite right. Severe changes to look out for include:
- Weight loss or gain
- Excessive thirst
- Changes in the color or quality of his coat
- Unusual behavior
If your horse experiences any of these symptoms between wellness appointments, it is essential that you contact your equine vet.
What is usually included in a horse wellness exam?
Horse wellness exams can vary between equine veterinarians. However, typically you can expect your horse to undergo tests and evaluations including:
- A basic assessment from afar. This is used to determine how responsive and bright your horse is, or whether he is nervous and quiet. This tells your equine vet about the mental state, personality and general wellness of your horse.
- Body condition scoring. Also known as BCS, this refers to the overall condition of your horse rated on a scale of 1-9. The score is determined using various factors from your horse’s weight to the prominence of his hips and ribs.
- Gait. The degree to which gait will be checked will depend on any other issues raised during the physical examination of your horse.
- A weight tape. This is applied to the girth area of the horse and is used to monitor any ongoing weight changes in your equine.
- Coat condition. This can tell your vet important information about the health of your equine.
- Temperature. Any increase above the ‘normal’ range could indicate an underlying infection.
- Lung sounds and respiratory rate. Your vet will check for crackling, wheezing and a regular respiratory rate.
- Heart rate, sounds and rhythm. A ‘normal’ heart rate for your horse is between 36-44.
- Dental check. This is a crucial part of any wellness exam for horses since it is essential that your horse’s teeth are being effectively ground down. Other abnormalities will also be checked for.
- Legs and feet. Again, a crucial element to your equine’s wellness exam since there are a huge number of different things that can be assessed in evaluation of the legs and feet. When it comes to horses, the importance of foot health cannot be stressed highly enough.
In addition to these checks, your equine vet will also spend time talking to you about the health and wellbeing of your horse. During this time, you will be asked questions about his food, exercise and lifestyle. This consultation is also the perfect opportunity for you to ask any questions that you have about the care that you are providing. If your horse requires vaccination boosters, these will likely also be given during his annual wellness appointment.
Conditions often identified during annual equine wellness exams
There are some conditions that are more likely to be identified during annual equine wellness exams than others. These include:
- Obesity. Obesity can also then be a trigger for the development of other health problems.
- Heart murmurs
- Equine Cushing’s Disease or PPID
- Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease
- Cancerous growths
However, by identifying these conditions early it will improve the outcome and quality of life for your horse.
Need more information on equine wellness exams in Warrior AL? Or perhaps you would like to schedule an appointment for your horse? Our experienced and dedicated equine team are on hand to assist. Please contact veterinarians in Warrior AL today at 205-351-0400 to let us help you to take care of your horse’s health.