A Hidden Threat to Your Horse’s Health – Equine Leptospirosis

equine-lWhile not as well-recognized, the effects of equine leptospirosis can be devastating. Leptospirosis, an infectious bacterial disease, can affect mammals, including wildlife, cattle, dogs, horses and even humans.

“My mare, Patty, had a spot on her eye. I had our veterinarian examine her, and he conducted a titer test,” explained Beth Parker Woodliff, a horse owner from North Carolina in October 2016. “Patty lost her sight in that eye, and then a uveitis spot appeared in her other eye. She became totally blind, and we ended up having her put down as she wasn’t adjusting well to losing her sight. It was heartbreaking.”

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The bacteria which cause leptospirosis are found in the environment across the United States. In horses, Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona, or L. pomona, is the most common pathogen associated with disease.

Facts About Leptospires

Leptospirosis is a leading cause of equine recurrent uveitis (ERU).1 It’s estimated that up to 70 percent of all uveitis cases are associated with leptospires.
Leptospires can cause late-term abortion in mares. A study showed that 13 percent of bacterial abortions are caused by L. pomona, the most common leptospiral serovar found in horses.
Leptospires can colonize in the kidneys, and the horse can become septicemic, potentially leading to acute renal failure.

Urine from infected animals serves as the primary source of infection for equine leptospirosis. Spirochetes penetrate mucous membranes or exposed skin. Bacteria then enter the bloodstream, replicate and travel to the kidneys, eyes and reproductive tract.1 Infected or carrier horses can shed the bacteria in the urine.4,5 The Leptospira bacteria can survive for weeks in warm, moist environments.

Horses often become infected with Leptospira when exposed to:

Contaminated soil, bedding, feed and drinking water
Stagnant or slow-moving water
Maintenance hosts such as skunks, white-tailed deer, raccoons and opossums
Aborted or stillborn fetuses or vaginal discharges

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The Responsibility of Pet Keeping

pet-ownersWhile pets are abundant in our culture, it’s easy to forget that owning pets is a luxury that requires a lot of responsibility and time commitment. We all want the best for our pets, which is why it is important to remember the time, emotional, and financial obligations that are associated with pet ownership.

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent just over $60 billion on their pets in 2015. This number likely includes food, training, grooming, toys, veterinary care, and formal kennel services, Dr. Christine Rutter, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences said. However, this number probably does not include carpet cleaning, replaced shoes, furniture repair, or paying a friend to watch your pet while you travel, Rutter added.

While owning a pet may seem like a good idea, Rutter suggested considering all the expenses of keeping a pet, including veterinary visits and pet services and supplies. “A pet may be a small aspect of a person’s life, but the pet owner is everything to the pet,” she said.

Before choosing a pet, Rutter suggested considering factors such as the amount of time you can spend with the pet, money for veterinary care and supplies, and the space you have available for exercise. She said, “It is good to put some serious thought into whether or not your life is compatible with the needs of a pet before adopting or purchasing a pet.”

Additionally, potential pet owners should think about what is the healthiest environment for a specific type of pet. Each type of pet has different needs, whether you are caring for a beta fish, gerbil, cat, or dog. Rutter suggested pet owners do their homework by researching their pet’s environmental, grooming, nutrition, and housing needs. For example, a cat or a fish may be best suited for someone living in an apartment, while a bigger breed of dog may be more appropriate for someone with a big backyard. Your veterinarian can also offer you advice and guide you in your research. read more…



Controlling lice in cattle

If producers notice their cattle rubbing, biting or scratching with irritation at their neck, shoulders and rump — including the loss of hair in those areas — they could be experiencing a lice problem. Lice are a common annoyance to cattle, especially in the winter months. The energy sucking lice rob from the animal can result in anemia, slowed recovery from diseases and decreased gain during infestation.

“Cattle producers and their herds experience more lice problems during the wintertime, by far,” said Jon Seeger, DVM, managing veterinarian with Zoetis. “Now is the time to treat cattle for lice.”

Two different types of lice commonly affect cattle throughout the winter:

Sucking lice: With relatively small, narrow heads designed to pierce the skin and suck blood, sucking lice can cause anemia, with production loss in heavy infestations. Sucking lice can do serious damage in large numbers and even kill young calves.

Biting or chewing lice: With larger, rounder heads, biting lice feed on skin debris, scabs and blood. Chewing lice do not cause a direct production loss. This biting insect causes severe irritation and discomfort to cattle. Cattle may experience such irritation that they could damage working facilities, fences, trees and feed bunks, using them as rubbing posts for some relief. Their coats may appear rough, with patches of hair loss.

The eggs of both lice types cling to the hair and hatch within 14 days. Adults live up to 28 days, with females laying an average of one egg per day.

Tips for controlling lice in cattle:

• Treat cattle for lice during the fall months, beginning in October, as populations are growing.

• Administer DECTOMAX Pour On to aid in controlling both biting and sucking lice.

• Consider a follow-up treatment two to three weeks later to allow time for any eggs to hatch but not mature into adults.

• Assume lice are present upon receiving a load of cattle. Treat and quarantine the group.

• Move cattle to a different pasture to avoid any commingling over the fence with untreated cattle, as lice are easily spread.

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Protecting Horses From Toxic Marsh Mallow Weed

marsh-mallowAs pasture growth begins to wane in many areas, horses might begin seeking different things to chew on, such as weeds or trees in their pastures. While some weeds do no harm, others can be toxic to horses. And researchers in Australia determined that marsh mallow weed (Malva parviflora)—which grows in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand—is one of the dangerous species that can be deadly to horses.

Reports of M. parviflora toxicosis are rare in horses. But Jennifer Bauquier, BVMS (Hons), Dipl. ACVIM, an equine medicine lecturer at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, in Victoria, and colleagues recently completed a study on the topic after the deaths four horses residing on the same farm. The horses had little access to quality forage and did not receive supplementary grain concentrate. There was extensive M. parviflora in the horses’ pasture, and the animals had grazed it heavily.

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Five good reasons to adopt a shelter pet

pet.health.jpgEarly November marks National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, a good time to note the amazing work our shelters do in keeping animals and people safe and cared for in our communities.

Animal shelters serve as community resources for animal care, education and outreach. If the post-election season has you thinking about getting involved in something outside of politics, consider how you might help local animals in need: Shelters always appreciate volunteers and donations of pet supplies, food and expertise.

Of course, shelters are also good places for pet adoption if you are considering adding a furry friend to your family.

Before adopting a pet, research the shelter or rescue you are considering. There are no national registries for animal shelters and rescues, yet some states, including Colorado, require facilities to register and follow animal-care guidelines. Most people who run rescues and shelters have their hearts in the right place, but some struggle with appropriate care and knowledge of disease control.

To be sure you are adopting from a reputable shelter, ask these questions:

  • How long has the facility been in existence?
  • Is the facility licensed?
  • Where are the pets housed?
  • What care do the pets receive, including vaccinations, de-worming and social time?
  • Is there a veterinarian on staff or on call?
  • Where do the pets come from?

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Just in time – Winter Care for Working Farm Dogs


Winter Assessment for Outside Dogs

Acclimatization – Being outdoors continuously from warmer weather into winter helps a dog adapt his body and coat to cold weather. Dogs cannot be thrust suddenly from warm to cold temperatures, but require time to adjust.

Age – Very young (under 8 weeks unless with dam) and older dogs may be vulnerable to cold, if they are unable to regulate their body heat or have a meager or poor coat.

Coat – Only double-coated dogs with water resistant outer hair and dense undercoats are suitable for living outdoors. Although long hair is not essential; slick, very short, or single-coated dogs are not adapted to very cold weather. Dogs with poor working coats or cottony soft coats may lack the needed water resistance. A clean, dry coat provides better insulation than a dirty or wet coat. Dogs with proper dense coats can lie on snow without melting it.

Health – Dogs in poor health, underweight, or recovering from surgery, injury, or illness may need special consideration.

Nutrition – Outdoor living dogs need more calories in cold weather, high quality or energy food, and sufficient fat calories.

Size – The body mass of larger dogs allows them to cope with colder temperatures more successfully than smaller dogs. Muscle mass and a small fat layer also help provide insulation, although dogs should not be overweight.

Dogs should be monitored closely in extremely cold weather and checked for good body condition and any signs of frostbite on ears, tails, or paws. Areas of potential frostbite can feel extremely cold to the touch.

Signs of distress or hypothermia may include one or more of the following:

• Strong shivering
• Reluctance to move, weakness, abnormal stiffness, or slow, shallow breathing
• Remaining in a tightly curled position
• Reduced alertness or listless behavior
• Ice on coat due specifically to snow melting and re-freezing, due to loss of body heat.

In an emergency, call medical professionals. Immediate care includes removing the dog from the cold, warming, and drying the coat.

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A BIG LOVE – Therapy dog becomes best friend


When Amber VanBramer’s grandmother passed away, she had a difficult time deciding if she should bring her 7-year-old son, Khaydin, to the wake.

“My grandfather on the other side of the family passed away last year and I took him,” she said. “It was his first funeral and he took it pretty hard, talking about it all the time afterward and asking, ‘Am I going to die?”‘

But when she walked into her grandmother’s wake at Dwyer Funeral Home on a rainy Friday afternoon with Khaydin and her 3-year-old son, Keyonei, to pay their respects, she and her children weren’t immediately met with death, but instead the wagging tail of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Greyce.

The boys immediately lifted the somber mood, asking Greyce’s handler, Jody Tierney, important questions about their new friend, who calmly stood watch over the mourners while Keyonei crawled under her to inspect her furry belly.

“Does he like dog food?” asked the 3-year-old, innocently, while relatives looking on laughed.

It’s not the scene you’d expect at a funeral home, and that’s why when Tierney approached Rob Dwyer Jr., about the possibility of using a certified therapy dog at funeral services, he jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s such a great thing,” said Dwyer, owner of the family owned funeral home at 776 North St. “The dog immediately changes the mood of the room.”

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