Letters: 08/00

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Flank Biting Internal Cause
In response to your article on flank biting (June 2000), there is another cause that should be explored if all other options have been exhausted — internal trauma.

Our horse, Austin, used to intermittently spin around in fast and furious circles, trying to chew his sides. He also kicked out if you tried to groom his flank area. We had four different vets examine him, all with different diagnoses. They ranged from a dirty sheath, which we cleaned over and over, to a skin disease, which was treated with topical and internal medications to EPM, which we just laughed at as he displayed no other symptoms. The fourth vet tried equine Prozac to no avail, believing it was a neurotic behavior.

Austin started to have episodes of colic, which were treated in the standard ways. One Friday he colicked and after Banamine and walking him all night he was no better. We trailered him to the closest equine hospital. They were concerned upon reviewing the ultrasound and immediately took him into surgery. After opening him up, they found an 100-pound mass in his stomach. The mass had intermittently been squeezing his intestines. After all this time, his “behavioral” problems made sense. He had been in pain for over a year. We lost him after all of this. He just was too weak to survive.

-Dennis and Debbie Keeffe
El Segudo, CA

We’re sorry that Austin is gone, but you did everything you could for him. We did mention pain as a likely cause of flank biting, but your letter illustrates it vividly.

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Rabon Investigations
I thought your June issue was the best I have seen. I have often wondered about Rabon and even though I hate flies and hate to see them torment the horses, I have believed that there must be something better than feeding pesticide. In my opinion, it is worth investigating.

-Eugenia Badger
Louisville, KY

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Rabies Vaccine Question
I was disappointed to read in your June 2000 issue, a response to a letter about rabies vaccinations. In the second to last paragraph, it says “Rabies, by the way, can be given every three years after the initial vaccination if your veterinarian is using that particular vaccine.” The vaccine is the same one whether it is stated for one year or three. Only the vet marks the expiration according to whether or not the vaccine has been given in the past. I am disappointed because it appears that whoever answers the mail is not very informed.

-Kristen Staehling
Suffolk, VA

All rabies vaccines are not the same. There are two distinct types of rabies vaccine, labelled for booster injections either after one or three years. For example, Schering sells both Rabdomune (three-year) and Rabdomune-1 (yearly). Because there are no challenge studies to prove three-year protection in the horse, it is recommended that boosters be given at yearly intervals instead of three years. However, we know of vaccination-conscious vets who are doing the three-year rabies vaccinations in horses, with precautions to immediately administer a booster if there is any risk of exposure. Such “off label” use is up to the discretion of the treating veterinarian.

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Correction
The amounts of the essential fatty acids in Buckeye Nutrition’s Shine 'N Win were reversed in our June 2000 issue chart. Shine 'N Win contains 3.7 g/oz LINOLENIC acid, and 1.8 g/oz LINOLEIC acid.