Know the signs
As a horse owner, you love your pet and want to keep it around for a long time. That's why it is important to be aware of potential health problems. Whether you get information from a veterinarian or you do research on your own, there are some common equine ailments you should know about.
Medical costs for a sick horse can be a burden. But if you know what signs to look for, you can keep problems from getting worse and, in some cases, prevent them. Here are some of the more common horse health issues to look out for.
West Nile virus
During the spring and summer, attention is always brought to West Nile virus. People are urged to protect themselves, but horses are often forgotten. The animal gets the virus, which causes inflammation to the brain, the same way a human gets the virus -- from infected mosquitoes.
According to the USDA, there are five symptoms an infected horse may show: depression, incoordination, weakness, muscle twitching, and, in some cases, death. But a horse may become infected without showing any signs.
Because some symptoms may not be apparent, it is vital that prevention takes place before mosquitoes show up in your area. The simplest way to protect your horse is with two vaccines. The USDA says the second shot needs to be given two or more weeks before mosquitoes bite, so plan accordingly. Screened housing, insect repellent, and keeping your horse indoors at night can also reduce the risk of mosquito contact.
There are various ways you can reduce the number of mosquitoes on your property. Because the insects can breed in any body of water that remains longer than four days, you should dispose of any water that accumulates near your horse enclosures.
West Nile virus cannot be treated once a horse becomes infected, and only two out of every three horses that get the virus will survive. So it's important to take precautions and be aware of any symptoms your horse may show.
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