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Your Horse’s Vital Signs

Normal or Red Alert?

99 – 101 degrees Fahrenheit
higher than 101 degrees

36 – 48 beats per minute
greater than 60 in a resting horse or a weak pulse

8 – 16 breaths per minute
depending on activity level
unusual flare of nostrils:quick shallow breaths

Intestinal Sounds
variety of gurgles, squeaks, rasps pipings and scrapings coming from the stomach area

No gut sounds
Recommended Checklist When Choosing a Boarding Stable for Your Horse

  • Do knowledgeable personnel own and operate the stable in a professional manner?
  • Does the stable have a vet available in case of emergency?
  • Are horse owners required to sign a release giving the stable permission to summon a veterinarian in case of sickness or injury?
  • Does the stable require regular immunizations by all boarders?
  • Is an isolation area provided for new animals?
  • Are all owners required to deworm their horses (at least four time annually)?
  • Are barn rules posted to encourage health and safety and are they enforced?
  • Is regular hoof care a requirement?
  • Are stalls, aisles and paddocks well-maintained and free of litter and protrusions, which could injure a horse?
  • Are paddock fences and gates as horse proof as possible?
  • Is a regular feeding schedule maintained and do other horses appear to be in satisfactory condition?
  • Are stalls cleaned and bedded regularly and manure properly disposed of to reduce the fly population?
  • Are horses checked between chore hours or monitored in some way?
  • Are regular hours listed and followed?
  • Are adequate and realistic safety ruled posted and strictly enforced?

Necessary Vet Care

Large animals, like automobiles are personal property. But this fact alone does not allow one to do as they please with that property. Yes, by merely owning a car one is permitted to plaster yellow daisies on it. But there are laws and codes that must be obeyed in order to maintain the safety of the owners of the vehicle and others on the road. If not followed, the vehicle, by law, can and will be seized and criminal charges filed. On a simpler note, we must maintain our motor vehicles as prescribed by code and monitored at annual safety inspections, and in some counties, emissions inspections. Yes, it is your property, but to play-you must follow the rules. Consider the proviledge of owning an animal similar. It is our law in this Commonwealth, that animals are to be maintained with adequate food, water (NOT ice or snow), suitable shelter, and necessary veterinary care. Anything less is against the law!

What is necessary veterinary care? I consider necessary veterinary care as any veterinary treatment or procedure that immediately affects the well being of an animal. For example, in large animals, this would include deworming at intervals of 6-8 weeks, or use of a daily dewormer, regular dental care, appropriate treatment for sickness, disease, or trauma. Vaccinations, though ALWAYS recommended, would not fall into this definition and interpretation of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They are important, but just because an animal is not vaccinated against disease does not constitute a case of neglect. Now, if that animal contracts one of the serious diseases that we commonly vaccinate against, it is required by law that the animal have the necessary veterinary care to help it through it’s ordeal.

Every animal deserves adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care. There are absolutely no reasons why suffering and neglect at these basic levels must continue, but it does.

LAPS is dedicated to simply enforcing our standing laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. To be successful, it becomes everyones job to help monitor the well-being of our noble friends and help educate their owners to provide a more healthful environment for them.
Dental Problems of Older Horses

A great percentage of LAPS cases involve older horses. These horses are in many levels of generally poor condition. One common finding in these, animals, and pet horses as well, are dental abnormalities that can be managed successfully long before a horse has to slip into despair. Wavemouth, step mouth, and sharp hooks are terms used to describe the molar abnormalities most commonly seen when even tooth wear is disrupted and regular care is neglected.

Our knowledge of equine dentistry has gone through some dramatic improvements through the last 10 years. Prior to this time, most veterinarians and horse owners thought floating teeth was the entirety of horse dentistry. We now know that floating is a fundamental aspect of dentistry but not the whole picture, any more so than we believe that brushing ones teeth is the sum total of human dentistry. One concept of dentistry which holds true for both horse and man, is that prevention or correction of minor problems is much easier to deal with than is large-scale correction. Unfortunately, many older horses that come into the LAPS program fall in the large-scale correction needed category.

Clues of dental discomfort or pain sometimes obviously originate in the mouth, other times not:

  • Large pieces of forage and undigested grain in manure
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive spillage of grain, difficulty chewing
  • Tongue lolling
  • Weight loss and poor coat
  • Tail wringing
  • Drooling
  • Colic
  • Head tilts, head tossing, or bucking
  • Choke

If still being ridden, a rider may notice decreased athletic performance and communication with the rider, bit chewing, fighting the bit, and general resistance.

Horses teeth grow throughout their lives and are continuouslv being worn down.

Dental problems often take years to develop.

Common Problems

Sharp Points: The most common problem is the development of sharp points along the cheek side (buccal) of the upper cheek teeth and the tongue side(lingual)of the lower cheek teeth. These points can be very sharp and will cut the inside of the cheeks as well as the tongue. Not only can a horse show problems with chewing but problems with the bit are also seen. Floating or rasping these points REGULARLY is essential for good dental health.

Molar abnormalities: As horses mature we see these types of dental problems more frequently. Wave mouth, step mouth, and sharp hooks are molar malocclusions that occur due to inadequate maintenance when the horse is a developing youngster or when regular dental care is denied. These abnormalities result when even wear is disrupted. These problems occur because the grinding (occlusive) surface of the teeth do not meet and wear properly. When this I situation goes uncorrected the surfaces wear unevenly over time, causing some teeth to be too long and others to be too short. The result is poor chewing and, if neglected long enough, the long teeth can dig into the palate and gums. Other less common dental problems include extremely long hooks, broken teeth, and abscesses of infected teeth.

A competent practitioner, using new power equipment or with hand floats can smooth out enough sharp and irregular surface to bring the horse more comfort. Sometimes, this is all that is needed to save a life of a starving animal.

General recommendations for frequency of exams by the American Association of Equine Practitioners are: every six months for horses between two and five years old, and horses older than 20 years; yearly for horses between age five through the teens. Horses with dental problems at any age may need to be seen more often.

It’s not magic. It’s not matching water buckets in a color coordinated stable, not the brand of tack on the wall… it’s basic needs that all animals are entitled to by law. Food, water, shelter and necessary veterinary care. If you don’t know what to do as an animal owner. ..ask! These animals depend on you to care for them.
Water – Why Do We at LAPS Have Complaints Concerning Water Availability & Cleanliness?

Water is an important and necessary part of animal care. Too often we over look how important this nutrient is in the maintenance of our animals. Clean, potable, fresh water is usually easy to come by and very cheap.

Let’s examine the basics concerning body fluids, water requirements, and the basic nutrients water provides.

It doesn’t matter is you are a human, horse, or gerbil, we all need water. Daily requirements for adult livestock are included in the chart below. These amounts can vary depending on outdoor temperature.

Many mineral elements are found in the water we drink. Water intake helps contribute to many mineral requirements including Iodine, Copper, Calcium, Iron, Zinc and Selenium, just to name a few. Mineral needs are not normally met by just water intake; so mineral supplements are still needed to maintain our animal’s health.

Unfortunately, minerals are not the only substances we can find in our water supply. Too often our water may also contain harmful products like man made pollutants, toxins, or pesticides. We need to ensure that our water sources are not polluted prior to placing our animals in contact with these areas.

Palatability is an important consideration when choosing water sources for our livestock. Salinity, or salt levels, will negatively affect the palatability of the water.

Highly mineralized water is often unpalatable to many species.

If water becomes stagnant, algae blooms can produce toxins that may poison livestock. Stagnant water also contributes to our mosquito population and the growing concern over West Nile Virus. Livestock poisonings from algae depend upon the species of algae present, the concentration of the algae, the amount consumed, and the animal’s general health.

This is simply a small sample of the factors we need to consider as we provide water to our animals. The purity of our water has far reaching implications including animal death, poor reproduction, and poor weight gains. Clean, potable, palatable water is easy to get. Let’s make sure our animals get what they need!

Amounts are Per Animal

Daily Requirements
High Temperature Needs

10 -12 Gallons per day
12-15 Gallons per day

Beef Cattle
8 – 10 Gallons per day
12-15 Gallons per day

Dairy Cattle
12-17 Gallons per day
15-20 Gallons per day

Sheep and Goats
1 – 3 Gallons per day
2 – 4 Gallons per day

Llamas and Alpacas
4 – 6 Gallons per day
6 – 8 Gallons per day

6-8 Gallons per day
8 – 10 Gallons per day

Ask Questions
If you have any questions for the vet, or want to suggest topics for the vet to write about contact us via e-mail. We’ll answer as quickly as possible.