Ask Horse Journal: 11/05

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Safe Neoprene Use
I see my horse once a day, but I think neoprene boots would help her arthritic hocks. Can I leave them on constantly and just remove them once daily to inspect the skin underneath'

Neoprene boots will help with arthritic hocks because of the heat they generate. However, they shouldn���t be left on for more than 8 to 12 hours at a time, e.g. overnight.??In hot weather, that interval should be shortened to 2 to 4 hours maximum.??Trapped heat and moisture inside the neoprene can lead to oversoftening and swelling of the skin if the boots are left on too long. The skin is then more susceptible to rubbing and bacterial infection.??To minimize skin problems, the leg should be clean and dry before applying the boots.??The boots should be cleaned and turned inside out to dry, preferably in the sun, between uses.

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Mulberry Trees
Are mulberry trees dangerous to horses' There is one growing near the fence line. I like the shade, but I worry my horses could get to the berries.

The roots of mulberry (Morus species) are a Chinese traditional medicine and could be harmful in large amounts, but the leaves and branches are used as forage for cattle, sheep and goats in many places of the world and are nontoxic.?? Ripe berries are also nontoxic, but large quantities of green ones could at least cause digestive upset.?? A compromise might be to prune back the branches the horse would be able to reach, to avoid any chance of overindulgence and digestive upset.

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Garlic and Flies
Boy, was I surprised to see my letter about feeding garlic and my horse’s anemia in the September Horse Journal.?? I wanted to provide a follow-up, though. Within two weeks of stopping the garlic my warmblood was covered with hundreds of bug bites.?? Big ones, little ones, knotty ones, golf-ball-sized ones.?? At first I thought it was hives, but the vet confirmed bug bites.?? We’re not in a particularly buggy area of California, but he seemed to be a bug magnet. Meanwhile, my Quarter Horse pony remained absolutely bug-bite-free, though she was also off the garlic.

I didn’t immediately equate the garlic to the bugs and purchased??a new flysheet with more extensive coverage.??The bugs kept biting him.??Finally, it dawned on me that the garlic kept the bugs away.??I went back to the garlic and within??one week every bite had healed and there were no new ones.??The pony remains bug-bite and garlic-free.?? So, to balance things out, I added Red Cell to his feed until the fall when I plan to discontinue the garlic.??I appreciate the info on the Heinz bodies and will have my vet do the blood smear shortly.

It does sound like the garlic makes your horse less appealing to the biting insects. As long as you’re checking periodically to see that it’s not causing problems, that’s fine. However, feeding him Red Cell won’t protect him from garlic-related anemia. Red Cell is primarily an iron supplement. This is not an iron-deficiency-related anemia, and giving the horse iron can’t force him to make red blood cells. Horses don’t need supplemental iron.

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Pastern Leukocystoclastic Vasculitis
I borrowed a bunch of back issues from a friend in my quest for information on my horse’s newly diagnosed problem.??I’m impressed with your publication and have since subscribed.??I have a question: My horse has been diagnosed with pastern leukocystoclastic vasculitis. The blood tests are normal, and the diagnosis reached with punch biopsies of sites.?? My veterinarian and I can find little information but I certainly doubt I have the only horse with this condition.

Leukocytoclastic dermatitis is a skin problem that resembles“rain rot” and is also known as “greasy heel,” or “dew poisoning.”?? In fact, there are different mechanisms involved in these problems, e.g. “rain rot” is an infection, while leukocytoclastic dermatitis is an immune system reaction that causes damage to the small blood vessels supplying the skin.

Purpura, the skin reaction and breakdown that complicates about 10% of strangles cases, causes a similar reaction in the skin when biopsies are examined.?? In rare instances, strangles vaccination may induce the skin problem in horses that have been exposed to strangles in the past.?? Leukocytoclastic dermatitis is perhaps best known as the cause of severe pastern dermatitis in draft breeds.??Hypersensitivity to drugs may also cause it - e.g. sulfa drugs, tetracycline, phenothiazine tranquilizers (skin reaction doesn’t show up for seven to 21 days).?? Severe, acute photosensitivity reactions from either directly photosensitizing plants or extremely high intake of plant pigments from lush growths of pasture may be hard to separate from leukocytoclastic dermatitis.

The details of your horse’s biopsy and history will help your vet decide the best treatment, but in all cases keeping the lesions clean by gentle daily bathing and protecting them from the sun, preferably with a heavy layer of zinc oxide cream, is usually an integral part of the treatment plan.

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Diarrhea Problems
My 20-something-year-old gelding is plagued with extra water in his colon.?? When he tries to pass gas, it comes out in a stream, covering his hind legs.?? The manure is actually well-formed further up in the colon, but when it sits in the rectum, it becomes saturated.?? We’ve had blood tests run each year that show he’s healthy.?? While this happens mainly in fall/winter, it’s not connected with hay because it will begin before hay is offered.??He will sometimes display this during other seasons, but not for as long.?? He’s on Microvet, which contains a probiotic. Any ideas to help us combat this'

While it may not be hay-related, the predictable timing does suggest it may well have a dietary component.?? Pasture grasses change dramatically in their composition when nights begin to become cool.?? Instead of burning the energy sources they have manufactured during the day, they slow down their metabolism and stock pile these complex carbohydrates as a variety of substances.??The composition of grass can change dramatically overnight, which can lead to digestive upsets and incomplete fermentation of the grass in the large intestine.?? Going from pasture to hay, or one type of hay to another, even one load of hay to the next, further challenges the ability of the colon to keep up.

Probiotics can definitely help here, but the dosage is extremely important.?? It’s not enough to just use a supplement with probiotics added, the level must be high enough to actually make a difference.??We suggest you consider using Ration Plus.

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Cushing’s And Herbs
You appear to be the go-to resource for insulin-resistance-related issues.?? I have two rescue horses, both were diagnosed with navicular and one also with laminitis and EPM.?? I got them in last fall and got the triple-threat horse off his four-a-day bute habit and out of his bar shoes.?? He’s doing reasonably well.??He was diagnosed with endocrine issues to do with adrenals.??I’m concerned that he has foundered for the last five years or so.??I’ve him on APF but will be putting him on jiagolan and euthero ginseng soon.??The APF is prohibitive in cost. So far he seems to be benefiting from no carbs, but the fear of another lamitinic episode is in my heart.??I read somewhere that you found sometimes herbs worked against each other. He’s on some detox herbs now: milk thistle, dandelion root, burdock, fennel, and ginger.?? Are any or all of these contraindicated with the jiaolugan'??

If his “adrenal issues” means Cushing’s disease, that’s a completely different ballgame for treatment than non-Cushing’ s-related insulin resistance (IR).?? If you can afford it, we’d check his ACTH and insulin levels to see what’s actually going on with him.

As for the herbals, we’d suggest panax ginseng (aka Asian or Korean) rather than eleuthero.?? The panax has been documented to improve IR and can also help block the effects of excess ACTH (in Cushing’s disease) on the adrenals.?? If using whole herb, try 8 to 10 grams/day. Ginger has some anti-IR effects, but I’m more familiar with cinnamon in horses.?? Good results have been obtained with a total daily dose of 1 tsp. ground cinnamon/250 lbs. of body weight, divided between the daily feedings.

On “detox,” stick with milk thistle only. There’s a chance that any type of ginseng will interfere with the jiaogulan.?? We’d suggest you try the jiaogulan first and if you get a positive response then add the panax ginseng.?? If he’s not as comfortable on the combination, you could try increasing the jiaogulan dose to compensate. Remember, too, that if he’s truly IR and has had repeated laminitis episodes in the past that grass is dangerous for him.

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Digestion and HA
My nutritionist said that oral HA won’t work because the molecules are digested before they can work' Why is everyone using it'

It was thought at one time that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate would be “digested” before they could be absorbed too, and that is partially true of chondroitin, but it’s now known that a certain percentage of even the large and complicated chondroitin molecule can be absorbed. However, it’s also true that much of the chondroitin is broken down before absorption, but this does not influence its effectiveness. In fact, one or more of these smaller pieces are believed to actually be responsible for the beneficial effects. The intestinal absorption of oral hyaluronic acid has not been studied. However, it is known that hyaluronic acid can enhance the absorption of inhaled drugs across the lung tissue (as can chondroitin), and also improve absorption through skin, so it is a small enough molecule to be absorbed.?? How much is absorbed across the intestine intact versus “broken up” is unknown.?? People that are using it are using it simply because they see a beneficial effect in their horses.

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Toklat Phone Number Correction
An incorrect phone number was printed for Toklat Originals, distributors of Under The Tail Wipe, in our September issue. The correct toll-free number is 888-486-5528.

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Horses Now Eligible To Receive Emergency Funding
A provision that makes horses eligible for federal disaster assistance is included in the USDA FY 2006 appropriations bill.??The effective date would be July 28 in order to cover losses suffered because of Hurricane Katrina.?? As we went to press, the full 2006 USDA appropriations bill must still be passed by the Senate.

The legislation would make horses eligible for federal emergency relief similar to other livestock and crops.?? Horses have been ineligible for federal emergency funds, except when the industry got special ad hoc authorization for federally-guaranteed loans for foal losses caused by Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome.??

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Slaughter Ended
In September, the senate approved an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that will prohibit the use of federal taxpayer funds for USDA inspections to slaughter horses for food exports. It will stop America’s horses from being killed in the three remaining U.S. slaughterhouses that slaughter horses and from being shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico.

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Measuring Liquids
When using vegetable oil or any liquid supplement, an easy, no-mess measurer is a large syringe or a long small-diameter deworming syringe (well-rinsed and thoroughly cleaned). Measure the amount you add to the horse’s feed, suck that amount up into the syringe, and mark the level on the syringe or plunger with a permanent pen/marker. Then you can just stick the syringe into the supplement jug and suck up the proper amount each time.

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Hauling Hay
When moving bales of hay or straw around the barnyard in the snow, a wheelbarrow isn’t that easy to push. A child’s sled works nicely for hauling one bale--or even two stacked on top of each other.

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No-Spill Water Carrying
If you carry water and have to use a bucket, put a clean plastic garbage bag in the bucket, put the water in the bag then tie a knot in it. You’re actually carrying a bag full of water in your bucket. It can’t splash out or spill, even if the bucket gets tipped. Water can be hauled this way in a wheelbarrow, the back of a pickup, or even the trunk of your car, without spilling. When you get to your horse, you can untie the bag, fold the top of the plastic bag down over the sides of the bucket, and pour the water into his tub.