Trailering horses correctly for healthier, happier horse

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Trailering of horses has dramatically increased in frequency over the last decade with horses travelling to and from sales, competitions, shows, trail riding, equine vacations, breeding and more. Some travel may be as short as an hour while other trips may involve many hours, perhaps even a few days of trailering.

Considerable physical, psychological, and emotional pressure is placed upon the “trailered” horse and many horses experience significant stress associated with transport. Their immune, digestive, musculoskeletal and hormonal systems are affected not only during transport but for hours, or even days after the trailering event.

Trailer loading of horses is the subject of many articles, forums, chapters and books. Perhaps rather than asking, “how to load the horse into the trailer,” it would be prudent to consider that the horse’s protest to enter the trailer may be its only means of communicating a problem which has nothing to do with “loading up.” The horse may actually have a good reason to protest entry into the trailer even if we cannot clearly connect to its reasoning.

The trailer ride itself is an “experience and/or environment” in which he/she is not used to.” If the horse feels uncomfortable or unsafe in the trailer it will resist entry and re-entry. After the horse loads into the trailer for the first time it will be the trailer environment which will establish his/her future comfort with loading.

The best way for a person to empathize with the horse’s experience of trailering is to ride inside the trailer while it is in motion — just as the horse does. A trailer in motion has many dynamics — accelerating, decelerating, stopping, and turning corners. Each dynamic places unique musculoskeletal demands upon the horse to balance itself. Abrupt accelerations, decelerations and sharp turns are particularly demanding as the horse often scrambles to keep its balance. The more frequent and abrupt the movements the more likely the horse is to feel unsafe and anxious. Therefore, driver technique has a significant impact on the horse’s experience while in transport.

The horse needs ample room and secure footing to be sure footed during travel. Poor footing and slippery surfaces quickly unsettle even the most seasoned of horses. A bed of shavings on the floor of a trailer offers the horse a clean and secure footing surface. Shavings also sponge urine and fecal matter expressed during travel which in turn improves air quality inside the trailer.

Horses travelling untethered in an open-concept trailer will quickly assume a rearward position once the trailer sets in motion. Research has shown that horses travelling in this manner are less physically stressed, better able to balance and brace themselves and vocalized less than forward-facing horses. In addition, horses moved in open stalls without head restraint were less likely to suffer from dehydration and immune system dysfunction during and after travel.

Horses are tied during trailering for a number of reasons — style of trailer, number and compatibility of animals travelling together, duration of haul, etc. Yet whenever possible allow the horses to take advantage of whatever room there is to carry their heads in a natural posture. If necessary, long-tie the horse enabling it to rest its head at a comfortably low-hanging level facilitating sinus clearing and airway drainage. Ties with quick-release snaps are a valuable safety consideration in case of an emergency.

Any covering placed upon the horse during transport, whether it be blankets, sheets, shipping boots or tack compromises the horse’s ability to dissipate heat and can add to the horse’s discomfort. The muscular activity associated with maintaining balance during transport produces considerable internal heat which the horse must dissipate in order to thermoregulate properly. Warm temperatures will markedly amplify the risk of heat stress to the horse. Heat stress contributes to dehydration, weakens the immune system, and fatigues the horse. Heat stress is a significant concern for horses travelling during the summer months leading to dehydration, colic, and exhaustion. Be sure to stop frequently to allow horses a break from the trailer and to offer water.

Bell boots are a simple, inexpensive and effective means of protecting the vulnerable coronary band from hoof strike and/or a misstep that may incur during loading, travel and unloading.

Vigilant attention to air quality inside the trailer offsets the risks associated with stagnant air, accumulating exhaust fumes and excessive heat. Keeping the trailer as clean as possible minimizes the risk of pathogens overwhelming a respiratory system weakened by trailer stress.

Provide ample water, adequate hay and no grain to the travelling horse.

Dehydration is a common side-effect of shipping that can lead to other more serious problems. Offering hay for the horse during travel helps retain water in the gut during transit and adds to the hospitality and comfort quotient of the trailer. Grain feeds, on the other hand, stress gut function and increase the possibility of colic.

Periodically stop and unload horses every four to six hours in a secure area. This allows the horse not only a physical but a mental break. Remember, the horse has no concept that the trailer ride will end, especially during the initial few experiences. Even stopping for 15-20 minutes will give the horse a rest from the balancing necessary when the trailer is in motion. read more…

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Brain Vitamins – want to be smarter?

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We all want to be smarter. Whether you are still studying or already working, you want to have a sharper mind that can easily process everything that’s happening. From solving the most complicated problems in a major subject or figuring out the most efficient process of getting things done for your boss, we just want to be smarter at handling things. Admit it, there is an advantage when your mind works better. Fortunately for us, there are food supplements that can boost our brain’s critical thinking skills. Fighting the brain fog may not be as hard as what others may think with these vitamins you can easily buy at the local drugstore.
Vitamin D
According to the National Institutes of Mental health, one suffers from having poor brain health if they don’t have enough Vitamin D in one’s system. While it is commonly something we get from the sun, we can also get it from fortified dairy products and vitamin supplements. This vitamin helps boost our abilities to process information and have a healthy memory. Even pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to take Vitamin D supplements to help with their baby’s cognitive development. Aside from going out in the sun (but only when the heat is not scorching hot), it’s best to take supplements!
Vitamin B12
Dr. Weil It’s often known as the “brain vitamin” that has been proven to help keep a brain mss healthy for an old age in a Finnish scientific study on Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that anyone who lacks Vitamin B12 in their systems often suffer from forgetfulness, short attention span, decreased ability in performing math calculations, fatigue, and confusion. Read more Health Tips For Engineers Who Work Fulltime On The Computer It is highly recommended to have a diet rich in B12-foods commonly found in fish, poultry, beef. Go see a doctor as well for a blood screening in order to find out if you have Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Omega 3’s
NUTRA Ingredients We’ve all heard plenty of commercials about how omega 3 is good for you but did you know it’s also good for your brain? A diet rich of omega 3 can be found in protein sources such as organ meats, liver and fish! People who do not have enough of this in their system are prone to have a damaged nervous system. Potential dementia and mental illness may also be also developed.

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Get used to the new term ‘Caturday’

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Cats sat stoically in the grass on Boston Common Sunday morning, allowing themselves to be admired and photographed. Some people squealed “Kitty!” as if they’d never seen a cat before.

“This is the best day ever,” said Erin Curtin, 20, of Natick. “It is a beautiful morning and everybody is gathering as a community to pet cats. This is the epitome of positive experiences.”

It was Boston’s first “Caturday,” a popular cat meet-up that’s already arrived in other major cities, creating a communal space for feline aficionados. On Facebook, the event was called “a day to reclaim the glory of the outdoors for our feline friends.”

Beverly resident and local organizer Kristin Leigh Porcello, 24, said she plans to continue holding Caturdays on the first Saturday of each month on the Common.

“It really was a wonderful turnout,” Porcello said.

Leashes prevented run-ins with squirrels, while dog walkers did double takes as scores of people surrounded feline faces peeking out from carriers and purses. Gizmo the cat, just shy of 30 pounds, wore a tiny sparkling hat.

His owners were bemused at the attention.

“We went and bought one of these cat strollers,” said Kristin Mills, 18, from Bedford. “People are all over him. He’s a little different. He’s super, super obese.”

Lulu the cat was hiding in her owner’s armpit. Brighton residents Charlie, 28, and Jayda, 27, Siegler named her after the restaurant in the hotel where they stayed on their honeymoon.

Lulu, the couple said, acts more like a dog than a cat.

“I’m just trying to make sure she’s having a good time,” Charlie Siegler said.

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Take care of your Gut for a healthy life

What is sometimes called the “forgotten organ,” the gut is an active and diverse microbial ecosystem that dramatically affects human health.

Shannon Frink, a registered dietitian with the Mary Lanning Healthcare wellness department, spoke about the link between the gastrointestinal system and overall health during a presentation Wednesday at the hospital called “Gut Reaction: Creating a Healthy Microbiome.”

Frink’s presentation is part of a series of Mary Lanning wellness classes the hospital is now offering to the public.

“This is kind of an interesting area of health that is evolving,” she said.

Babies are born without intestinal bacteria but that gut microbiome quickly begins to take hold and is established by age 3. However it can continue to change throughout life.

One third of each person’s gut microbiome is common to most people, while two thirds are unique.

“It’s as individualized as our finger print is,” Frink said.

The gut microbiome contains tens of trillions of microorganisms with at least 1,000 different specifies of known bacteria with more than 3 million genes, which is about 150 times more than human genes.

The goal is to keep that bacteria as diverse and active as possible.

The most effective way to do that, Frink said, is to eat a variety of probiotic and prebiotic foods.

Probiotics are good bacteria — live cultures — just like those found naturally in the gut. These active cultures help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora.

Probiotic foods include fermented dairy such as kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, aged cheese with live cultures; as well as fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, cultured non-dairy yogurts, pickels and kombucha.

Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of helpful bacteria.

Prebiotic foods include: Bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, whole-wheat foods, high-fiber foods and vinegar.

Frink said supplements can be helpful but are not as effective as getting those same nutrients from food.

There is also early data showing adequate vitamin D is important to maintaining a healthy gut biome. Foods containing vitamin D include mushrooms grown under UV lights, egg yolks, fatty fish and fortified milk.

The gut microbiome carries out a variety of known functions:

— Digesting dietary fiber to produce protective metabolites

— Influence serotonin levels

— Exerts anti-inflammatory activity

— Creates an unlivable environment for pathogens

— Detoxifies drug and other environmental metabolites

— Synthesizes essential vitamins, such as biotin, foliate and vitamin K.

— Competes with pathogenic and opportunistic microbes, maintain intestinal epithelial barrier

— Influences development and maintenance of immune system.

By performing these functions, the gut microbiome and its metabolites have been linked to protection from various diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, autism, neuropsychiatric disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and most, if not all autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. read more…

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Do your clients control parasites or do they simply deworm their cattle?

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The difference between those concepts has become increasingly significant, particularly as drug resistance expands among the nematode species affecting cattle in North America. Without a parasite-control plan focused on long-term sustainability, producers will face declining efficacy of treatments and associated lost performance, animal health and reproduction.

As concerns over drug resistance grows, producers need to move away from simple “cookbook” formulas for deworming cattle, says Louisiana State University Extension Veterinarian Christine Navarre, DVM, MS. Navarre recently outlined current thinking on parasite control at the Academy of Veterinary Consultants Summer Conference in Denver.

The “ideal” parasite-control program for any operation depends on a range of factors, including geography, cattle type, production schedule, pasture management, types of endemic parasites and, importantly, levels of resistance already established in local parasite populations. Producers, Navarre says, need to work with their veterinarians to customize and implement control programs that include components such as refugia, surveillance and possibly treatments with combinations of drugs, along with other best practices, for sustainable management of internal parasites.

Drug use inevitably leads to development of resistance among parasites, Navarre says, and cattle movements result in the spread of resistant worms to ranches around the country. Practices such as using the same class of anthelmintic for decades, using inappropriate dosage and treating all cattle in the herd have led to a significant resistance problem. She also notes, though, that a treatment failure does not necessarily equal resistance. Mistakes in estimating cattle weights, calculating dosage, mixing or administering products can easily result in improper or inconsistent doses. Ensuring an efficacious dose for every animal treated is critical for short-term success and for minimizing development of resistance over time.

In cattle, researchers increasingly find resistance among Cooperia species, which are one of the most common parasitic worms. Cooperia cause performance losses in calves, but generally do not cause clinical disease, meaning the emergence of resistance can remain undetected in herds without testing. Older cows generally build natural tolerance to Cooperia and other worm species.  Recently, some populations of Ostertagia ostertagi and Haemonchus placei have shown resistance to one or more anthelmintics. Ostertagia in particular could cause significant health and reproductive losses if multi-drug resistance becomes more common.

Refugia

Killing every worm, however, is an unrealistic and potentially counterproductive goal. Navarre challenges producers to think in terms of “good worms” and “bad worms,” with the bad worms being resistant to one or more drugs and the good worms remaining susceptible. Refugia is the means by which producers maintain a population of susceptible parasites on the ranch, improving sustainability of their control programs. Refugia typically means leaving some animals untreated, but also can involve grazing decisions – leaving some pastures as refuges for susceptible worms rather than trying to keep every pasture “clean.”

Testing and surveillance

Diagnostic testing is required to determine the existence and extent of parasite problems and anthelmintic resistance on each ranch, Navarre says. Quantitative fecal egg counts can determine the magnitude of parasite problems, and the fecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) can be used to estimate anthelmintic resistance. Navarre notes that the FECRT has limitations, with consistently accurate and representative before-and-after counts challenging to achieve. Efficacy below a 95% reduction, and probably below 98%, indicates resistance, with the trend being especially important.

Treatment efficacy

Combination treatments, using two or more dewormers from different classes at the same time, can provide a high level of efficacy and help prevent or reduce resistance when applied along with refugia. Navarre acknowledges the extra cost could deter producers from considering combination treatments, but says they might need to accept some higher costs as investments in the long-term protection of animal health and performance.

Navarre provides this summary list of steps veterinarians can take with clients in designing effective, sustainable parasite-control programs.

  • Minimize other stressors.
  • Maximize nutrition.
  • Understand parasites in your locale.
  • Use best statistical analysis for FECRTs.
  • Think about refugia.
  • Think about pasture management.
  • Don’t buy resistant worms.
  • Proper product selection and use.
  • Cull poor-doers

read more…

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Food first to promote good #cardiovascular #health

Cardiovascular disease continues to be responsible for more deaths in the United States than any other disease. As physicians, we use medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, to control the workload of the heart and to increase blood and oxygen flow.

In some cases, we also use surgical procedures to address life-threatening cardiovascular conditions. But we are often asked by our patients if vitamin and mineral supplements could help in managing their condition or in generally improving their cardiovascular health.

This is a viable question, particularly since supplement labels make some very dramatic claims. While some research shows that supplements may help lower cholesterol or blood pressure, it remains unclear if they can prevent or improve cardiovascular disease. It’s important for patients to understand the science of supplements and to have realistic expectations about how they might impact cardiovascular health.

Popular supplements

There is a wide variety of supplements that claim cardiovascular benefits. Some of the most popular and the ones we are asked about most include:

• Fish oil, garlic — attributed to preventing plaque build-up in arteries, lowering blood pressure and increasing “good” cholesterol.

• Antioxidants — credited for repairing cell damage caused by free radicals, including the cells in our hearts and lungs.

• Vitamin D, B vitamins — said to be helpful in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart disease.

• Fiber — found to reduce the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs from food.

• Probiotics — thought to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

It is true that all of these can positively impact cardiovascular health, but the ingredients that do the work are all found in food, and recommended daily levels can usually be maintained by simply eating properly.

Eating fish each week and cooking with garlic or garlic oil can help with plaque build-up and high cholesterol. Antioxidants can be found in berries, dark chocolate and dark green vegetables. Dairy products, egg yolks and whole grain cereals contain vitamins D and B which can lower risk of heart disease. And fiber and probiotics that help lower blood pressure are found in vegetables, fruits, beans and grains. Isolating these important nutrients in pill form rather than ingesting them through food is not advisable.

Food first

Food contains hundreds of ingredients that, together, promote good cardiovascular health. Because there is no supplement that can adequately replace all the benefits of food, it is best to use food as your primary source of nutrition, then supplement any gaps if necessary.

Assess your overall eating habits to determine if you can make small dietary changes that would allow you to avoid supplements. If there are one or two food groups you dislike, learn about the key nutrients in them and then choose a supplement to meet only those needs. If you eat a large amount of fast food and frequently drink low-nutrition drinks such as colas or tea, you should consider making significant overall changes in your diet before adding supplements.

Supplement safety

Patients who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease should talk to their physicians prior to using any supplement, even a simple multivitamin. Certain supplements may actually be harmful to these patients since they can reduce the effectiveness of medications prescribed for heart failure, coronary artery disease or high cholesterol. In some instances, supplements such as L-carnitine and lecithin can even contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries of certain people.

If you are under the care of a physician for any cardiovascular condition, you must follow your doctor’s advice and be certain to discuss the effect of any supplement you consider. If you do not suffer from a cardiovascular condition, seek advice from your family physician or a nutritionist who can help you make an informed choice. read more…

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Interesting: The hidden environmental costs of #dog and #cat food

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Gregory Okin is quick to point out that he does not hate dogs and cats. Although he shares his home with neither — he is allergic, so his pets are fish — he thinks it is fine if you do. But if you do, he would like you to consider what their meat-heavy kibble and canned food are doing to the planet.

Okin, a geographer at UCLA, recently did that, and the numbers he crunched led to some astonishing conclusions. America’s 180 million or so Rovers and Fluffies gulp down about 25 percent of all the animal-derived calories consumed in the United States each year, according to Okin’s calculations. If these pets established a sovereign nation, it would rank fifth in global meat consumption.

Needless to say, producing that meat  — which requires more land, water and energy and pollutes more than plant-based food  — creates a lot of greenhouse gases: as many as 64 million tons annually, or about the equivalent of driving more than 12 million cars around for a year. That doesn’t mean pet-keeping must be eschewed for the sake of the planet, but “neither is it an unalloyed good,” Okin wrote in a study published this week in PLOS One.

“If you are worried about the environment, then in the same way you might consider what kind of car you buy … this is something that might be on your radar,” Okin said in an interview. “But it’s not necessarily something you want to feel terrible about. ”

This research was a departure for Okin, who typically travels the globe to study deserts — things such as wind erosion, dust production and plant-soil interactions. But he said the backyard chicken trend in Los Angeles got him thinking about “how cool it is” that pet chickens make protein, while dogs and cats eat protein. And he discovered that even as interest grows in the environmental impact of our own meat consumption, there has been almost no effort to quantify the part our most common pets play.

To do that, Okin turned to dog and cat population estimates from the pet industry, average animal weights, and ingredient lists in popular pet foods. The country’s dogs and cats, he determined, consume about 19 percent as many calories as the human population, or about as much as 62 million American people. But because their diets are higher in protein, the pets’ total animal-derived calorie intake amounts to about 33 percent of that of humans.

Okin’s numbers are estimates, but they do “a good job of giving us some numbers that we can talk about,” said Cailin Heinze, a veterinary nutritionist at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine who has written about the environmental impact of pet food. “They bring up a really interesting discussion.”

Okin warns that the situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon. Pet ownership is on the rise in developing countries such as China, which means the demand for meaty pet food is, too. And in the United States, the growing idea of pets as furry children has led to an expanding market of expensive, gourmet foods that sound like Blue Apron meals. That means not just kale and sweet potato in the ingredient list, but grain-free and “human-grade” concoctions that emphasize their use of high-quality meat rather than the leftover “byproducts” that have traditionally made up much of our pets’ food.

“The trend is that people will be looking for more good cuts of meat for their animals and more high-protein foods for their animals,” Okin said.

What to do about this? That’s the hard part. Heinze said one place to start is by passing on the high-protein or human-grade foods. Dogs and cats do need protein — and cats, which are obligate carnivores, really do need meat, she said. But the idea that they should dine on the equivalent of prime rib and lots of it comes from what she calls “the pet food fake news machine.” There’s no need to be turned off by some plant-based proteins in a food’s ingredients, she said, and dog owners in particular can look for foods with lower percentages of protein.

The term human-grade implies that a product is using protein that humans could eat, she added. Meat byproducts — all the organs and other animal parts that don’t end up at the supermarket — are perfectly fine, she said.

“Dogs and cats happily eat organ meat,” Heinze said. “Americans do not.”

Okin has some thoughts about that. The argument that pet foods’ use of byproducts is an “efficiency” in meat production is based on the premise that offal and organs are gross, he says. (Look no further than the collective gag over a finely textured beef product known as “pink slime.”) But if we would reconsider that, his study found, about one-quarter of all the animal-derived calories in pet food would be sufficient for all the people of Colorado.

“I’ve traveled around the world and I’m cognizant that what is considered human edible is culture-specific,” he said. “Maybe we need to have a conversation about what we will eat.”

In the meantime, Okin suggests that people thinking about getting a dog might consider a smaller one — a terrier rather than a Great Dane, say. Or, if you think a hamster might fulfill your pet desires, go that route.

Heinze, for her part, sometimes offers the same counsel to vegetarian or vegan clients who want their pets to go meat-free. They are typically motivated by animal welfare concerns, not environmental ones, she said, but such diets are not always best for dogs, and they never are for cats. read more…

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