We offer comprehensive medical evaluations, diagnostics and treatments. So whether your horse has a relatively simple issue or a very complex problem, we can help.
Our state-of-the-art equipment and facility allow us to diagnose and treat many conditions and problems quickly and efficiently. Acquiring this important diagnostic information quickly can be vital when your horse is ill or injured.
Whether you want a family pet, a pleasure horse, a breeding animal or a high performance athlete, you stand the best chance of getting one that will meet your needs by first investing in a pre-purchase exam. Remember that most horses do not come with a money-back guarantee. The expense of a prepurchase examination is small compared to the long term costs of keeping and caring for him – especially if there are health problems.
A prepurchase exam is exactly as the name suggests – a veterinary examination of all aspects of a horse’s health before buying him. Sellers are usually skeptical, buyers often see it as an extra expense, and veterinary skills or thoroughness can vary. So why do them?
…So that you know what you are buying before you write the check. While other horse professionals may be able to evaluate performance merits, only an equine veterinarian can help determine the horse’s overall health and condition. This is a very important factor in deciding whether the horse will be a wise investment.
For example, all horses are not seven years old. Many new owners have been surprised to discover that the “seven year old” they just bought is really nineteen. Many rested horses move just fine until asked to perform or do something a little different, then a subtle lameness becomes apparent. A horse in good condition in mid-summer can become a hard keeper in winter due to a variety of dental problems. And just because the mare had five foals in the past doesn’t mean she will ever foal again. You won’t know unless you look.
Horses do not pass or fail a prepurchase examination. Our goal at Countrycare is to give you, the buyer, as much information possible prior to making your decision whether or not to purchase a horse.
So, exactly what information is gained from a thorough exam? Basically everything from the age to breathing problems to possible future lameness concerns. The examination process involves more than just a normal temperature and verifying that the heart is beating.
The entire body is evaluated- by observation, auscultation and/or palpation. This includes eyes, teeth, heart and lungs, etc. All four legs are palpated, flexed, extended and gaits scrutinized. A complete prepurchase examination will often take up to two hours to complete.
It is also important to evaluate the horse’s conformation and disposition. We look at the horse’s conformation, body condition and symmetry prior to ever touching them. Every step, stance and action can be a communication that relates to an underlying problem.
The intended use of a horse is an important consideration. What is relevant for a broodmare is different from the requirements for an eventing horse.
The buyer should be present during the examination so that exam findings can be discussed. Also, special tests may be recommended based on the exam. Additional tests may include x-rays, blood work, endoscopic or ultrasound examinations.
The most common form of cancer in the horse is skin cancer. There are generally three kinds
Sarcoids are more common in younger horses. They can occur as a single nodule or multiple lesions any place on the body. They can even occur as simple hair loss and crusting. Common places include legs, groin, ears, eyes, lips and behind elbows.
Squamous cell carcinomas are malignant. They appear at mucous membrane junctions-eyelids, lip, nose & genital region.
Melanomas are most common in white or gray horses. They frequently occur around the tail and anal area, ears, eyes and genital region.
Regardless of the type of skin tumor, early detection and treatment are crucial. Observe your horse closely on a regular basis and have a veterinarian examine any suspicious lesions. Check them over even during the winter months with their thick hair coat. Changes in skin that should be examined include discoloration, roughening, crusting, scaling or hair loss.
We offer several treatment options:
Larger tumors that have invaded deep into local tissues are more difficult and expensive to treat.
The chances for complete recovery are better the sooner the problem is detected and treated.
Allergies are a very common and very frustrating problem for both horses and owners. Hypersensitivity allergic reactions are primarily caused by exposure to dust, molds, and other air pollutants. Allergies in horses can manifest as respiratory disease or skin problems or a combination of the two.
Allergens are anything in the environment that evokes a hyper reactive immune response; examples include mold in poorly made hay, dust in barns, grass, tree and weed pollen in the air, or man made chemicals such as fly sprays.
The most common response to allergens in horses is allergic bronchitis, which eventually progresses to a condition called COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). This condition is commonly known as “heaves”. COPD is similar to asthma and emphysema in people.
In the early stages of allergic bronchitis, the horse may have a clear to white nasal discharge, mild exercise intolerance, and an intermittent cough. As the condition progresses, you may see flared nostrils, labored breathing and a frequent deep, non-productive cough.
Symptoms may be evident all year round or may only be apparent when the specific allergens are at their highest level. For grass pollen, this is primarily in the spring, for weed pollen, mainly in late summer and fall, while molds and dust become a bigger problem in the winter when horses are stabled in tightly closed barns.
Skin problems can also be caused by environmental allergies. The horse may be itchy, especially around the face, ears, belly and legs. Other times a horse will develop hives (round, quarter sized swellings) all over the body. Skin allergies can be caused by biting insects, inhalant pollen, bedding materials or synthetic products such as fly sprays or drugs.
The treatment for allergies requires a combination of environmental management and medical therapy. Environmental changes must be made in order to control the horse’s allergies. Whenever possible, you must remove the material causing the allergic reaction. Environmental management includes both feed & housing changes.
Medical therapy is divided into two categories – alleviating symptoms vs. desensitizing the horse. You can reduce the allergy symptoms with medications such as antihistamines, steroids, or bronchodilators. Antihistamines do not give consistent results. Steroids have potential side effects and should only be used on a short term basis. Bronchodilators are expensive but can temporarily help the horse breathe better.
Allergy testing and desensitization is generally the best method of treatment. A blood test is done to determine what items the horse is allergic to. The test covers grasses, weeds, trees, molds, insects & feed specific to the Midwest region.
After determining what allergens are a problem , desensitization medicine is formulated. Injections are given to slowly ‘desensitize’ the horse to those things in the environment that are the problem.
At Countrycare Animal Complex, we have been using this desensitization method for years with successful results. Treatment works better when the problem is addressed early (as allergic bronchitis) before COPD sets in.
Ideally, horses with allergies should be kept outside with access to a 3 sided shelter and never kept or brought into a barn!!!
"Sophie received excellent treatment, love and care for a foreign body removal surgery at Countrycare. I thought when I took her back to get her stitches out she might not want to go but she ran right in and was happy to see everyone. I can't say enough to express my gratitude to Dr. Barr, Dr. Strickfaden and the staff at Countrycare for saving Sophie's life. Every day we watch her run around and play and are so grateful she is still with us."
- Kathy M., Luxemburg