Articles, Blog

Ask the Vet – Conformation, cellulitis, copper deficiency and more! – June 2019

October 19, 2019

DAN: Hey, SmartPak fans. I’m SmartPaker Dan. She is Dr. Lydia Gray,
SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director. And we’re here to answer
horse health questions asked and voted on by you. Now, last month we took
Ask the Vet on the road. And we were actually
at TNT Equine clinic in Berwick, Maine,
which was so much fun. How’d you think that one went? DR LYDIA GRAY: It was. I was nervous at first doing
this in front of a live studio audience, and not a studio. DAN: You don’t know what
they’re going to say. DR LYDIA GRAY: No. And if they were going
to ask me hard questions. But they weren’t mic’d. So it was all good. But it actually went well. We did a question. And then we would
stop rolling, and let them talk and ask stuff again. Then we would roll again. So it was actually fun. DAN: It was a great time. And the staff up there
was absolutely fantastic. DR LYDIA GRAY: They were. They were. So thank you, Dr.
Erickson, and Laurie, and everybody who put that on. DAN: Well, hopefully
we can do something like that again in the future. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. DAN: And then in other
Ask the Vet news, you’ve been actually
really busy. You actually took over
hosting gigs for a little bit. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Which is very hard. So props to Dan. DAN: I try really hard. DR LYDIA GRAY: I didn’t
know how hard that chair was until I did it myself. DAN: So we actually had Dr.
Nerida Richards in from FeedXL who is equine nutritionist
extraordinaire. DR LYDIA GRAY: And Australian. DAN: And Australian. So you guys did a series
of Ask the Vet videos that were a little bit shorter. Not like one of
these longer ones. DR LYDIA GRAY: They
were nutrition. They were all nutrition based. DAN: And nutrition based. So those should be coming
up kind of shortly. So you guys can definitely make
sure to check those ones out. They look like they were very
good from the sneak peek I saw. DR LYDIA GRAY: Good. DAN: But so onto this, back
to our regular formatting, and on to the questions
we have for this month. So the first question was asked
by Mary Ann on SmartPak’s blog, at And Mary Ann says,
“My Dutch Warmblood is 17.3 hands and 1,500 pounds. We live in central
Florida where the summers can be brutally hot and humid.” I can only imagine. “He is 18 years old, and has
been in work most of his life as a jumper for years,
and now does dressage. He has always sounded
a bit heavy breathed after working for
about 30 minutes, but seems to recover afterward. My trainer says that’s
just him and he’s fine. I’m often scheduled for training
later in the morning, or even afternoons, and have passed
on the lesson for fear it will be hard on him. But I feel like everyone thinks
I’m babying him too much. How much should I
push him in the heat? With summer just around the
corner I’m already stressed.” DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Maybe she should do the
reverse winter bird thing where the people from Florida
move up here when it’s hot. I don’t know. That’s a thing. DAN: Yeah. Our summers are beautiful. DR LYDIA GRAY: So I feel like
you know your horse best. And if you think he
is uncomfortable, and you need to not do a lesson
because it’s a particularly hot and humid day, or
call a lesson short, or have a light day,
then I think that’s fine. And don’t be affected
by peer pressure. I’m going to let you have the
conversation with your trainer. I’m not getting in
the middle of that. I would also tell you to have
a conversation with your vet, because it is possible that
now, while it sounds like she’s got a big, heavy horse that I
am not surprised that he doesn’t deal well with heat. Because if you think
about eventing, they don’t use 17.3 hand
Dutch Warmbloods for a reason. They don’t recover well
from cross-country. But talk to your vet,
because it’s possible your horse could have a medical
reason for not recovering well, or just struggling
with performance when it’s hot and humid,
something like maybe he’s borderline anhidrosis,
like non sweater. Maybe he’s got a respiratory
condition brewing, like inflammatory airway
disease, or something like that, allergies. Where just he’s fine
if it’s all great, but the minute he gets above a
threshold, he begins to suffer. When you talk to
your vet, you’ll also want to go
over the best way how to make sure you know your
horse’s vitals, temperature, pulse, and respiration,
but also the best way to cool your horse. And a lot of people don’t know– I can’t reach it. But it’s that black thing. And this thing. So there’s a saying. Did we just knock
everything over? DAN: I knocked everything over. Sorry. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. Great. Spray, scrape, repeat. And so you want it
to cool him down. Because he’s big. When you have a lot
of muscle, then it takes a long time for
the heat to dissipate. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
that may be part of why he feels uncomfortable. But so you spray
them with cold water. You could hose them
or use a bucket. Ice is fine. You can add rubbing alcohol to
the water, and it cools faster. You can put it right
over the muscles on the horse’s whole body. None of those rumors
you’ve heard about causing cramps or tying up are true. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. I feel like we’ve sort of– DAN: We’ve all heard that. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. So you get them wet,
and immediately you scrape them off. And you can feel that
water is hot already. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: So you have
to get the hot water off. Otherwise it acts like an
insulator or a raincoat. And it makes them hotter. DAN: So you think you’re
doing something good, but you might be doing
something detrimental. DR LYDIA GRAY: Have
you seen the people that they’ve got a hot horse. They’re trying to cool him
out, and they put a wet towel over him? DAN: Mhm. DR LYDIA GRAY: Don’t do that. That’s the worst thing possible. Because you are
keeping the heat in. DAN: Interesting. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. That’s terrible. DAN: So hose him off. And then scrape that off. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Immediately scrape. And hose him off again. Spray, scrape, repeat. It’s like your hair on that. The shampoo says
lather, rinse, repeat. So you just keep doing it. DAN: My hair’s really short. I don’t usually have
to repeat that often. DR LYDIA GRAY: Until the
water comes off cool. And you can let him drink. You can keep him walking. If you can find a breeze
or shade, that’s ideal. DAN: And what you just
brought up, letting him drink. I think that’s another
misconception a lot of people. They think if they let their
horse drink if they’re hot, they’re going to colic
or something like that. DR LYDIA GRAY: No. Because it cools them off. It rehydrates them. And a really interesting tidbit. Horses will drink. They’ll have a thirst. That thirst mechanism kicks in
right when they’re done working and they’re hot. Or even while
they’re working, like if you see endurance horses. But if you give them
time, and they cool off, they’re like, nah, I’m good. DAN: Oh. DR LYDIA GRAY: So let them
drink when they’re hot. DAN: If they’re
thirsty, let them drink. DR LYDIA GRAY: You know what? You heard it right here. If they’re thirsty,
let them drink. DAN: I think that movie
Black Beauty did us all wrong as far as they don’t
let you drink when it’s hot. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
trust your instincts. I’m going to wrap this up. Trust your instincts. So talk to your vet. Talk, again, to your trainer. Make sure you know your horse’s
normals, and know how to cool. And I like the idea of working
when it’s early if you can. Not working on those
hot, humid days. I mean, it’s the thing. Some horses just
don’t handle the heat, like people don’t
handle the heat. I mean, I’m a delicate flower. So when it gets warm,
I like to stay inside. DAN: Duly noted. [LAUGHING] Well, hopefully that
was helpful, Mary Ann. And keep us posted with
how your horse is doing. So on to question
number two, which was submitted by
Bay Webb on YouTube. And Bay Webb says, “If
you have a beginner’s eye and need to look
at conformation, what’s the first thing a vet
will look at for soundness?” DR LYDIA GRAY: This sounds
like an easy question. It is not. Because there’s
no place there is more jargon than conformation. I mean, right now
you and I could do a speed round
of conformation, like sickle hocked, and
cow hocked, calf kneed, and this and that. And I remember years
and years ago going to the AAEP annual convention. And there was a
talk on conformation and its effect on soundness. And it was specifically,
what things do you see, angles,
length, slopes, and that that are actually real. And it kind of shot holes
in everything I believed in. DAN: So what do you mean when
you say what’s actually real? DR LYDIA GRAY: Well,
so we hear things like horses with long,
sloping pasterns, maybe not a good thing. It actually turns out
ideal would be medium length, medium slope. Long, sloping
pasterns are not bad. I know. Hold on to your stool. You’d rather have a
long, sloping pastern than a short, upright pastern. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Everyone
that I could see agreed. Short, upright
pasterns are not good, both for the soundness
and the longevity. So the concussive
forces that your horse is undergoing in a
short, upright pastern tends to concentrate in that
pastern area, in the fetlock, and even in the foot. And they set the horse
up for a ringbone. Arthritis all down that
short bone through the leg. And the thinking was a
long, sloping pastern set your horse up for bowed
tendon or a pulled suspensory. It doesn’t. It’s actually protective. DAN: Blew my mind first
thing this morning. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know. But if you start at
the bottom, everyone agreed the foot’s
the foundation. And there was a lot of research
in evidence based medicine on the foot. And it turns out that the long
toe, low heel is the worst foot conformation. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: And the
one that you should avoid. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Cause it said there are a multitude of problems
associated with that. Not just one. DAN: Yep. DR LYDIA GRAY: It sets the
horse up for lots of things to go wrong. But navicular or caudal heel
syndrome was one of them. Because when you have a
long toe way out in front, and a low heel, and you use
a plum line from the horse– because we know most of their
weight goes in their forehand– it puts 75% of the horse’s
weight on the heel. And those structures just
cannot tolerate that. DAN: Well, so I ride
stock horses, which navicular is very common in. And so that is something
we usually look at is how is their toe? Do they have a long
toe, low heel situation? Because we know that
that is something stock horses
unfortunately can be. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, and
quarter horses specifically, and possibly stock
horses, not that they’re bred for small
feet, but they tend to have, in proportion of their
size and weight, small feet. And small feet also not good. DAN: OK. We want dinner plates. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, no. Flat feet, not good. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. You know, clubfoot
came up in the paper. And as long as it’s
not a severe clubfoot, then it wasn’t that
bad of a problem. And I had kind of always
stayed away from a clubfoot. In fact, I’m horse shopping
now, and I saw a clubfoot. I saw a clubfoot
and I walked away. And I saw a long toe, low
heel and I walked away. DAN: Yep. Smart. DR LYDIA GRAY: So I’m glad you– DAN: This is actually
a perfect topic for you since you are horse shopping. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know. I know. Let me see what else I found. We talked about the feet,
the pasterns, and the foot. Oh, there’s this myth out
there about you’re supposed to have a short cannon bone? DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: Have
you heard that? DAN: I have heard that. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
that’s not true. DAN: That has no
impact whatsoever? DR LYDIA GRAY: No. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
in the hock, when you look at the
horse from the side, a sickle hock means
they come down. And the back of the pastern,
instead of being horizontal, is sloping this way. Like that’s the
front of the horse. Sorry. We need a horse here. And sickle hocks do make horses
a little bit prone to a curb. But if it’s not a
bad sickle hock, it’s not something
to walk away from. So note to self. DAN: OK. So sickle hock you
can still explore. DR LYDIA GRAY: You can live
with it if it’s not terrible. And the horse that
is post-legged. So do you know that? So much jargon. When a horse doesn’t have
much bend in the hindquarters, that the leg is fairly straight. DAN: It’s almost
like a straight line. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. There isn’t much
bend in the hock. Those horses are set up for
a hind suspensory issue. So if it’s a severe
post-legged horse, then that might not
be a good choice. DAN: Maybe you walk away. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Oh, one more. You’ve seen or heard
of a hunter’s bump? DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. So it’s a bump in the
croup of the horse, right where the top
of the pelvis is. DAN: I was going to try to
help you out and explain it. DR LYDIA GRAY: Can you? DAN: Well, so if you look
towards the back of the horse, you do see this
little extra bump. DR LYDIA GRAY: Sometimes. DAN: Yeah. Sometimes. DR LYDIA GRAY: And it can
be on one side or both. DAN: Yep. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
I always thought, I was told it was an injury,
between the ligaments of that part of the pelvis, the
tuber sacrale, and the spine itself where it
attaches, the sacrum. It’s not. One of the people said– DAN: We’re just debunking
myths all over the place here. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know. And not helping her at all. But one of the people said it’s
actually a beauty mark, not a defect. DAN: Really? Well, look at that. You were walking away
from all these horses. And it’s just a
beauty mark all along. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know. I know. So talk to your vet. But I would also do some
reading at a reputable source. Because you’re going to have to
count on yourself to be like, what’s good conformation? What’s OK? It doesn’t matter. And what is
legitimately a problem? DAN: And also
probably manage what your goals are with the horse. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh,
that’s the other thing. Thank you so much. DAN: You’re welcome. DR LYDIA GRAY: A
horse’s conformation, what might be bad in one
discipline, say, racing, is OK, or, in fact,
good another discipline. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: So even if
you stick with English, what jumpers like, and
what a dressage horse, how he’s going to look to excel,
can be quite different. And then your
Western disciplines, what a reiner might do OK with
or need to function at his peak is not what a western
pleasure horse needs. So it is absolutely
discipline specific. Thank you. DAN: Absolutely. So basically we’ll look at
feet, see how that’s setup. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: The hocks after that. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well,
just work up the limbs. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Cause it’s feet. And then it’s limbs. There was a little discussion
about sloping shoulder. And the thing with that
was, because you’ve heard, oh, sloping shoulder. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well,
when they looked at it, everybody measures it
from a different place. And so there’s no agreed upon
definition of sloping shoulder. I know. DAN: So with that
being said, are you going to share with us after
you buy your new horse? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Sure. DAN: You’ll share
a video, a photo? DR LYDIA GRAY: Sure. DAN: Oh, all right. You’ll have to stay tuned for
the next Ask the Vet video. I like how I put you on the spot
like that for things like this. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, it may not
be the next Ask the Vet video. DAN: OK. I’ll put the pressure on. DR LYDIA GRAY: It will
be an Ask the Vet video. DAN: A future one. I’ll make it the next one. [LAUGHING] So our next question
was submitted by Loretta on the SmartPak blog. And Loretta she was
wondering, “What is your opinion on body clipping
a horse in March or April? “I have a 13 hand pony that
grows fairly thick coat. And it’s just too
much work for me to wait till he sheds it all. Plus, it increases drying
time after exercising.” And she also says,
“Love the videos. Keep it up.” I can only imagine how hairy
a 13 hand pony can get, and how long that can wait. They get little fluffballs
during the winter. DR LYDIA GRAY: First, we
have the medical disclaimer. We say if a horse or pony
is excessively hairy, or the hair coat changes in
length, thickness, color, even if it’s subtle– this doesn’t sound subtle– talk to your vet. Because there are some medical
conditions, specifically some endocrine conditions,
like Cushing’s or PPID that could be responsible. So first we make sure that he’s
normal, and then we clip him. I love the idea of clipping. And it doesn’t matter
that it’s March or April. I think that’s a great
time, because where I live it can be 70 during
the day, and they’re roasting. And then maybe 40 at night. Just there’s these wild swings. So it’s very uncomfortable
just to be standing. But then they also tend to
get overheated when they work, when they have a big hair coat. And then it’s no
fun for the person either, like she says,
because then they’re sweating. And their skin’s wet,
and their hair’s wet. And it takes forever. And you have to have multiple
coolers, cause they soak one. And you toss that. And then put the next one on. You have a 30 minute
ride, and then you have a two hour drying session. So that’s no fun. And that’s one of
the reasons we clip is to make it so that we can
work our horses safely for them and conveniently for us. We want to do other
things, like have dinner. DAN: No. Absolutely. And then there’s obviously
different types of clipping, as well. It doesn’t always
have to necessarily be a full body clip. DR LYDIA GRAY: I made a list. DAN: Oh, was I giving
you a good segue. DR LYDIA GRAY: It did. And I hadn’t heard
of some of these. But I looked at them, like
that makes total sense. Like had you heard
of a bib clip? DAN: I had not
heard of that one. DR LYDIA GRAY: A
bib clip is just the neck and the jugular veins
in between the front legs. DAN: Oh, that does
make sense then. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And then to go on from
a bib is an apron. They each go on. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: So bib,
apron, Irish, trace. And trace is a
low, medium, high. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: Chaser. DAN: I have not
heard of that one. DR LYDIA GRAY: Steeple chaser. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Blanket clip, hunter, and full. Full is everything. So hunter is where you do
everything but the saddle. So it’s up to you. And some people clip in parts. Like they’ll do a bib or
an apron, and then go, he’s still sweating. Like some people
will clip where they sweat, which is a great idea. DAN: Yeah. Absolutely. DR LYDIA GRAY: And then
you could clip and go, it helps, but he needs more. So than you clip a
little bit again. And then you clip again. And finally you get to
a place that you like, and it works for him. DAN: That’s great. Cause clipping comes up a
lot with customers asking. So we do actually have a
blanketing and clipping resource center, of
which we can probably put a link down below
for you guys to check out if you have further questions. We’ll have tips
and tricks for you. DR LYDIA GRAY: No. I think it’s a great idea. So I’d go for it. DAN: Go for it. Make your life a lot
easier for those cool outs. So question number four
then was submitted by Kay on the SmartPak blog. And she wants to know, “What
are the symptoms of copper deficiency? Are rose colored spots on
skin not covered by hair, particularly on the inner
rear legs near the abdomen one of the symptoms of it? And then what is the best way
to correct that deficiency?” DR LYDIA GRAY: Hm. Well, I spend most
of my time on– DAN: I’m very curious
as to what you’re going to say with this one. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, me too. So the whole rose
colored spots thing. Have you seen those? Do you know what
she’s talking about? DAN: A little bit. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. I’ve seen them. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: And you
kind of see them more when the horse gets wet. DAN: OK. Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: She’s
talking about a place where there’s not hair. I bet if she wet her horse and
looked, she’d see more of them. I don’t think
those have anything to do with copper deficiency. The only thing that I could
find about copper deficiency in horses, and it’s not even
in the NRC, which is my go to, but it’s hair color. But first, we’ll
go back to the NRC. And here’s what they say. Notice there’s no
mention of hair. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: “Copper is
essential for several copper dependent enzymes involved in
the synthesis and maintenance of elastic connective tissue,
mobilization of iron stores.” So anemia can be a result.
“Preservation of the integrity of mitochondria.” Goodness. “Melanin synthesis.” DAN: OK. So that does. DR LYDIA GRAY: “And
detoxification of super oxides.” So it has the role
as an antioxidant. So yeah. I’m thinking the
melanin synthesis is– let’s go down that rabbit hole. Shall we? DAN: Let’s go down it. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. So melanin is a pigment. And the enzyme that’s
responsible for pigment production is copper dependent. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So if you
don’t have enough copper, you can’t make the enzyme
that makes melanin. DAN: Yes. I’m with you. I’m with you. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. Shoot. DAN: Without this,
you can’t have that. DR LYDIA GRAY: Right. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So if you’re
not making enough pigment, then in chestnut
horses, and Nerida said she looks at cattle first. They seem to be
the first canary. Like they send the
canaries in the coal mines. They’re the first signal
of copper deficiency, maybe in the hay or
pasture in the area. Herefords are supposed to
be this really rich copper, orange, red almost color
like a liver chestnut. And when they become
copper deficient, they turn this icky, light
orange, yellowish color. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. It just looks muted. DAN: A little duller. DR LYDIA GRAY: Dull. Yeah. And then black horses, what
they do is the tips of the hair especially– in the
mane you’ll see it– it turns kind of rust
or copper colored. Because they’re losing
their black pigment. DAN: Oh. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: And that’s at the tips,
not at the roots I think. DR LYDIA GRAY: Right. Right. So you see it at the tips. And another thought
is that when you don’t have a full
dose of pigment, then when UV
radiation, sunlight, you’re exposed to it for
a long length of time, the hair bleaches out
easier, because there’s not a full dose of color there. DAN: Well, that’s what
I was going to ask you. For as far as seeing the
tips on a black horse be a little rusted
looking, how do you know that’s not just
from sun bleaching? Or how do you know it’s– DR LYDIA GRAY: But I
think it’s related. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: It’s related. And it could be
copper deficiency. Now, the trick, and why
I made such a face when you said how do you fix it? You call a Nerida. Because copper is a micro
mineral or a trace mineral. So you need it in
very small amounts. And the NRC says 100
milligrams a day. And zinc is another one that
also has a role in color. That’s 400 milligrams a day. So it’s a one to four ratio. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: If you
don’t have enough copper then you may run into these
other issues as well as color. Or if you have too much
of other trace minerals that are either
interacting or preventing the absorption of
copper, you run into it. So see, the
interaction is tricky. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: So it’s
not as simple as just, oh, give him more copper. DAN: Because then you can
impact another mineral. DR LYDIA GRAY: So if you think
you have a horse with a copper deficiency, you probably should
have the whole diet evaluated. And then try to build from
the ground up a balanced diet, and not just add in things. Because I think you’re
going to make a worse problem just adding in copper. DAN: So you did bring
in Dr. Richards. And so we didn’t explain FeedXL
at the beginning of this, which I do apologize for. But you can actually
go on to FeedXL and put in your
horse’s complete diet, from grain, to hay,
to supplements. And then it gives
this beautiful chart, kind of showing where
your horse is deficient, and then where your horse is
doing really well in certain– DR LYDIA GRAY: It
has the 100% line. And then it has
graphs, little bars. And it says you’re
not quite there. Or you’re there. Or you’re even past it. DAN: So it can kind
of let you play around to see what you can do to get
your horse to optimal levels for certain nutrients. So that could be a
resource for you guys to take advantage of to
see where you guys need to– especially for
something like copper, where it’s so
specific of a mineral. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And it’s such a little
amount that they need. But without that, they
can’t make the enzymes. And the enzymes,
I mean, we see it on the outside because
of the hair coat. But there’s lots of stuff
going on on the inside if the enzyme is not there. DAN: So hair coat color
potentially could be a sign. Though, the rose colored spots
on the skin, probably not. DR LYDIA GRAY: Probably not. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
if she’s concerned, I mean, ask the vet the
next time she is out there. But I see those a lot, and they
don’t seem to be a problem, and they don’t seem to spread. And I guess I don’t
worry about them. DAN: All right. We won’t worry about them then. So moving on to
question number five, which was submitted
by Ashley on our form at And Ashley says,
“Cellulitis, and how to bring more
circulation to the legs?” DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, that’s it? DAN: Ashley is to the point. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. DAN: She knows what she wants. DR LYDIA GRAY: I have a lot
to say about cellulitis. So we should probably
define it first. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: And not to
be confused with cellulite. DAN: Yes. Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: So cellulitis. I mean, the itis gives it
away – it’s inflammation. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: Right. And specifically, it’s
under the skin, and sort of between the skin
and the next layer, which is fatty tissue
and connective tissue. And it’s sort of a
deep seated infection. And usually in horses it’s legs. It’s hind legs. And it’s one hind leg. And only in about half the
cases do we know what caused it. DAN: Of course. Horses. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Hey, half is good. When we do know, it’s
from a wound, an injury, a break in the skin. Could be there was a
surgery, and it just allowed bacteria to go in. But it is a bacterial infection. And the thing about cellulitis
is, one day your horse is totally fine. And the next day he’s
three-legged lame. The leg is blown up. DAN: I was going
to say, usually. DR LYDIA GRAY: We call it
a stovepipe leg, because from the hoof to could be the
hock or knee, could be higher, it is like one thing. It’s excruciatingly
painful to the touch, but also to stand and move on. So it would be an
emergency, because you don’t know that it’s cellulitis. And even your vet looking
at it is not going to know. So they might do some imaging. They might do some
blood work to see if there is an
infection going on, to see if it’s a
local infection, or to see if it’s a
body wide infection. Because this all tells
them how to treat it. If everything points
to cellulitis, then we do try to find out
what the cause is, because you have to get rid of that. But aggressive antibiotics. DAN: I was going to say. Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: And then
painkillers, pain relief. And anti-inflammatory. So non-steroidals, like
your butes and banamines and firocoxib, which is Equioxx. And it comes down pretty quick. Now, the things that the
owner is going to have to do is cold hosing or icing. DAN: I was just going
to say, it sounds like you’re going to do
some time cold hosing. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, yeah. And you would like
to use something like a game ready
or an ice horse that has the cold and compression. But it’s so painful,
you’re not going to be able to do
that right away. DAN: Well, that’s what
I was just going to ask. As far as poulticing or things
of that nature to help… DR LYDIA GRAY: No. Cause it’s open. DAN: But you don’t
want to touch anything. DR LYDIA GRAY: It might be open. And the other thing is,
when the body swells, skin has only so
much room to expand. DAN: Elasticity. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Whew. That’s a big word. DAN: I tried. DR LYDIA GRAY:
And when it swells more than it has
elasticity for, there can be microscopic
breaks in the skin. And then you’ll
see a yellowish– the serum of the
blood is oozing out. And it even gets crusty. So you don’t want to
put a poultice on it. You don’t want to
put a liniment. You don’t want to
put anything on it. You let the antibiotics
do the work, let the non steroidals, the cold
hosing or icing. You will eventually
be able to bandage it. Bandaging and application of
cold are tremendous for it. There are things you may have to
do well beyond the medication. And even because when a horse
has cellulitis in the leg, that leg is more susceptible
to it in the future. DAN: Oh, really? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: Even if you get
rid of the infection? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Because you have
stretched all the tissues, maybe created scar tissue. Now, I say “you.” It’s not your fault. The
circulation is impaired. The lymph drainage doesn’t
work properly anymore. And so you have to be in the
future, to prevent it, I mean, there’s things you can do. You closely monitor the legs. So you have to everyday be
looking for cuts, breaks, scabs, abrasions. You can’t let your let
your horse get scratches. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
turnout is great, because when they’re in
a stall, they swell up. DAN: So you want
a little movement. DR LYDIA GRAY: But you
don’t want to turn them out early in the
morning when there’s wet grass, because you want
to avoid that leg getting wet. Can’t put it in. You can’t turn it out
when it’s muddy or sloppy. DAN: The fun parts
of horse ownership. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, my goodness. So I don’t mean to
be discouraging. But there is quite a bit
of care in the moment, and then afterwards. DAN: So that’s good
to know, though. Cause a lot of times when
horse owners do go down, they see that the horse’s
leg is swelled up. A lot of times, even if
it’s just the hock and it doesn’t seem super dramatic. They do want to
wrap, or do something like that to kind of get
the compression down. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. But the horse will tell you. It’s so painful. DAN: So at this point it’s
like, get the vet out. Make sure. It’s important. DR LYDIA GRAY: Because
the horse probably isn’t going to be bearing weight. And so you won’t know
that it’s a cellulitis, unless you’ve been through
this with this horse. You don’t know. I mean, this looks
as bad as a fracture. DAN: Oh, so it’s– DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, yeah. It’s three-legged lame. It could be an abscess. There’s a couple things
that make horses– joint infection. When your joints get
infected, the horse is three legged,
non weight bearing. So this is an
emergency, not only to make sure it’s not
one of those things. But you’ve got to get
therapy started right away. DAN: And get ahead
of the infection. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: So then with the
follow up question of how to bring more
circulation to the legs? Turn out’s OK. Hand walking I’m assuming. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Exercise is really good to
keep things moving as little– like I don’t keep
my horse in a stall. Not for this reason,
but for others. So if you can find a situation
where the horse is not in a stall at night, like
it’s a run in, run out, that would be ideal. Because when they’re
stabled and standing still, that leg is just
going to stock up. Trailoring even will
cause them to stock up. And you also want
to protect the leg. So when you trailer,
you’ll want to for sure, if you didn’t before, use
shipping boots, or wraps, however you want to do it. This may be a horse that you
now wrap when you exercise, because they can’t have a
bump or booboo, because then that’s going to get
the cycle going again. DAN: Oh. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know. DAN: But it sounds like,
though, if you get ahead of it, there is at least hope for you. You have some treatment
and management. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Yeah. DAN: OK. We don’t want to
scare people too much. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well,
I want to add that it can be life threatening. But that’s why you call
your vet right away. And you get on top of it. DAN: Instantly. OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
there are treatments. Yeah. DAN: Well, that is
definitely great to know. And keep us posted with how
your horse is doing for sure. DR LYDIA GRAY: Sorry. DAN: But that is it for
this episode of Ask the Vet. Thank you guys so much
for taking the time to submit your questions. We really appreciate all the
great ones that come through. DR LYDIA GRAY: I thought they
were really good this time. DAN: There were some really
great ones this time. The copper one, I think, really. DR LYDIA GRAY: Mhm. I learned a lot. Well, I think I learned the most
on the conformation question. DAN: I mean, my horse shopping
now will be a lot better. DR LYDIA GRAY: I think
my horse shopping’s going to be a lot better. Thank you. DAN: But make sure to keep
asking more great questions for our July episode. And you can ask those
questions on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,
our blog, and our form at Just make sure to
use #AsktheVetVideo. And don’t forget to check
out our playlist in the Horse Health Library to see if your
question’s already answered. And a bonus. DR LYDIA GRAY: And. What? DAN: More stuff. If your question was
answered in this video or one of our previous videos,
make sure to reach out to our Customer Care team
at [email protected] so you can redeem your
SmartPak gift card. Of course, show season’s
right around the corner. So you can put that
to good use, I’m sure. DR LYDIA GRAY: To
get a sweat scraper. DAN: Yes. Or Clippers. So make sure to do that. And so until next time,
make sure to subscribe. And have a great ride.


  • Reply AHJhunterJumper June 10, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    love this video!

  • Reply Anna Claire June 10, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Sooooo cool!!!!

  • Leave a Reply