5 Common Diseases In Horses

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Diseases can afflict horses without warning. If you own horses, you should understand that they can get ill even with the best of care. While a number of diseases can be fatal, many are curable, especially with immediate treatment.

Here are some of the more common horse diseases you should be aware of:

1. Botulism

There are three ways in which a horse can get botulism: eating spoiled hay, eating hay contaminated with animal carcass, and less commonly from having an untreated and contaminated wound.

Symptoms of botulism include:

* progressive muscle weakness and flaccid paralysis
* trembling muscles
* dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing
* muzzle and face edema
* resting its chin on the ground due to weakness

Recognizing these signs is important, as botulism is sometimes fatal, particularly in adult horses. In fact, adult mortality rate is at least 50%.

2. Colic

This is a term thats used to describe different degrees of abdominal pain. The cause of colic varies from simple indigestion to severe twisted gut.

Symptoms of colic include:

* restlessness, irritability, and anxiety
* biting the belly or flank
* attempting to roll on the ground or kick its stomach
* raised temperature and pulse rate
* not drinking and lack of appetite

The condition itself can be mild to severe, and sometimes the best option would be to euthanize. In case your horse shows any sign of colic, immediately seek advice from your veterinarian.

3. Cough

Coughs in horses are related to any one of these three things: common cold, allergic reaction, and bacterial or viral infection. Any coughing horse should be isolated as the first and third types can be contagious. Its also imperative for the sick horse to stop working, unless the veterinarian advises otherwise.

4. Laminitis

Laminitis commonly affects obese horses and those that work on hard surfaces. Its a condition wherein the laminae, a tissue that connects the hoof wall and coffin bone, gets inflamed. Although all four hooves can be affected, the front hooves typically suffer from it.

Signs of laminitis include:

* inability or unwillingness to walk or get up
* outstretched limbs when standing
* leaning back to ease pressure from affected front hooves

Immediate treatment of laminitis is important to prevent permanent damage. Laminitis is quite painful and debilitating and if it progresses, you may have to put down your horse.

5. Ringworm

Horses can be afflicted by several skin diseases, including ringworm. Ringworms usually occur around the saddle, neck, head, and girth areas. They cause tufts of hair to fall off, leaving circular lesions and making the skin look crusty and scabby.

This fungal infection is contagious and can be spread through direct or indirect contact. Its therefore important to isolate any infected horse and adopt stricter hygiene measures.

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