Taking care of your horse means taking care of its health in all ways. Understanding common illnesses and how to treat them is a task far too many horse owners are not adept at. However, in some cases, not noticing the signs early enough can be a life-or-death situation for a horse. I recently wrote an article about some common illnesses in horses, but there are so many more that I decided to write a second part that covers other common illnesses.
Degenerative Joint Disease
Degenerative Joint Disease is simple enough to understand, as it is similar to the human condition Osteoarthritis. Essentially the cartilage in a horse’s joints will begin to wear down over time, which can eventually lead to lameness. To relieve some of the pain, corticosteroids and NSAIDs may be used. There is no cure to DJD, and it is extremely common in older horses. You may notice a stiffness or difficulty moving when horses are warming up for exercise, which is a sign that you should book a vet appointment.
Equine Arthritis is another disease which affects the joints. However, instead of wearing down cartilage, Arthritis will instead cause inflammation, swelling, and redness at the joints. Arthritis can make it very difficult for a horse to move normally, especially considering the pain it can cause. Physical therapy and pain medication are the two best ways to help a horse with Arthritis.
Azoturia is a condition that many owners do not realize they are exacerbating. Azoturia is best described as a muscle cramp, but it is extreme and comes on suddenly. It may cause a horse to collapse, and the hindquarters may become very hot. The best way to prevent Azoturia is to feed a horse a proper diet depending on their workout. Overfeeding and underworking can cause this illness. Still, some horses are more prone to Azoturia, so it can happen even when a horse is being properly fed and exercised. If a horse is experiencing this condition, the best thing to do is let it rest and try to calm it down, as it will likely feel anxious from the sudden pain. After some time, it may be able to move enough to go back to its stall, where you should let it further rest and provide it with water. If a horse is unable to move at all, you must call for emergency vet care. Some horses recuperate from an episode quickly, while others may need to follow a specific exercise and diet plan from a professional to ensure it does not become injured again.
As horse owners, it’s never fun to think about our favorite horse being injured or ill. Yet, it is a reality of life that horses get sick, and it is up to us to take care of them. Make sure to keep an eye out for these illnesses, as they are incredibly common and can severely hinder your horse’s quality of life.