Ask Horse Journal: 02/04

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Natural Sources Of Salt
hen my horse was living in Southern California in a stall, he consumed a salt brick in about two weeks. For the past five years he’s been living in Northern California on the coast and free grazes 13 acres, in addition to his evening grass hay and oat-hay pellets. He has access to a salt block but never touches it.

I’ve concluded that our pastures must be quite salty due to our close proximity to the ocean, so he doesn’t need salt in brick form. Neither of my other two horses ever used the salt block either. Do you still think I should be supplementing his diet with salt'

-Barbara Brown
California

Higher salt level in plants, ground water collections and salt in the soil probably does account for less salt hunger in your new location. Whether he needs more or not depends on how much is coming from those sources and how heavily he’s being worked and losing salt in sweat. Since you know from past experience he has a good instinctive salt hunger, we’d leave free-choice salt available.

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Dewormer Questions
Your articles on deworming have been educational, but I have questions:

1) Can a horse with low fecal counts still have worms' If so, what types of parasites'

2) Would you use ivermectin on an EPM horse (with no relapses in three years) that has low fecal counts' If so, what brand of ivermectin would you prefer to use'

3) Have you heard of using Safeguard or Panacur for five to seven days to rest a horse’s stomach' Any reason to use Panacur instead of Safeguard' I’ve heard the adjuvant, I think, in Panacur is better for some reason.

-Michele McDonald
Virginia

A horse with low fecal counts still has worms. He could have immature forms, including “arrested” and currently inactive tissue forms of many different parasites and still have a negative fecal. Tapeworms can be difficult to detect on fecal examinations as well. Bots won’t be detectable on fecal either. Another possible cause of a negative fecal when the horse is parasitized is if the sample sits around too long before it is processed and examined. The eggs can hatch.

The jury is still out regarding whether or not ivermectin could cause worsening symptoms in an EPM horse or by what mechanism. If the horse has received it uneventfully in the past, and been free of symptoms for three years, the risk of any problem is likely small.

If you choose not to use it “just in case,” just be sure you have an ongoing program worked out with your vet to regularly monitor your horse’s status while using other types of dewormers. No brand of ivermectin is any different from another.

There are no adjuvants in dewormers, and no reason to use Panacur over Safeguard. They’re the same drug in the same concentration, just different brands. Neither one will “rest a horse’s stomach.” The reason for using the five-day protocol (which should be done using double doses) is to eliminate immature parasite forms in the tissues.

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Low Water Intake
I would like to change my two-year-old Appaloosa mare’s feeding program due to digestive upsets and mild colicky behavior, probably caused by low water intake.

Due to the digestive problems, I’ve considered changing to bran with beet pulp, but I’m not sure what quantities to substitute for her pellets or how often to feed. She’s on a one-acre pasture fulltime. Would switching from the manufactured pellets to bran/beet pulp supply what she needs while she is still growing, or is it just as simple as adding table salt to the pellets to increase water intake'

-Leslie Homer
Missouri

If you’re sure the problem is related to low water intake, it’s definitely just as easy to add salt to her pellets. You could also soak her pellets somewhat to get more water into her that way and also make sure the salt actually gets into her. If she has a tendency to bolt her pellets rather than chew them well, this could also be the problem. Soaking will help greatly with that problem, too.

If drinking more doesn’t solve the problem, you need to consider if there may be an ingredient in her pellets that doesn’t agree with her. Any number of things could cause upsets, but the most common offenders are soy, yeast, wheat products of all types, brewer’s byproducts, seed meals and other protein sources.

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Wound Care: Baby Oil’s Better
Drainage from wounds can create a perfect place for bacteria to multiply. Skin below these caked secretions can become irritated, even infected, and hair loss is common.??The coat can become heavily matted in the crusts and removal is painful.??

Usually, a coating of petroleum jelly on the skin/coat below the wound is recommended to help prevent wound drainage from soaking in.??This works, but it creates its own problems when dirt and bedding get trapped in it.??We prefer to use baby oil or mineral oil.??

Mineral oil is easier to work through down to skin level and protects well without a heavy buildup. Drainage either slides right off or stays confined to the surface above the oil, where it can be easily removed with a gentle stream of water. If dirt/dust start to build up, wipe down the oiled area with a dry towel then cleanse gently with warm water and a neutral soap, such as baby shampoo, glycerine soap, Neutrogena or Ivory soap, allow to dry, then reapply the oil.

Treating Punctures
Antibiotic ointments sold for treating cows with mastitis are good for treating puncture wounds. They’re formulated to be gentle to sensitive tissues but contain a variety of potent antibiotics in concentrations. Mastitis antibiotics are sold in boxes of 12 plunger tubes, each with an inch-long, small-diameter, soft, flexible, blunt-ended cannula at the end that allows easy insertion into puncture wounds. They’re also handy for local treatment of infected castration sites. They are available in both short (lactating cows) and long-acting (dry cows) formulations. Check with your veterinarian about suitability, frequency of use and the best antibiotic to choose for your particular situation. Most livestock-supply stores carry these products.