Ask the Vet: Prevention Care

Courtesy of AAEP

Question: I have a 3-year-old Quarter horse mare that has just been started lightly under saddle. The issue I am having is that she seems to “sprain her ankles”…

We’ve had our veterinarian examine her and he said stall rest, wraps and bute. What would be a good supplement to give her that could help with her ligaments?

Answer: It’s tough to know exactly what you mean by “sprained ankles,” since there are a range of issues with the fetlock joints that may be causing the problem. Some of these issues include early arthritis, suspensory ligament problems, fetlock “chips,” OCD lesions, problems with the sesamoid bones, and more. Regardless of the problem, I doubt a supplement will help. It’s important to remember that the supplement industry is not regulated, and these products can make a range of unsubstantiated claims. To my knowledge, no supplement has been proven to have any beneficial effect on treating or preventing soft-tissue injuries in horses. Supplements are also rather expensive. If I were you, I’d save the money that would be spent on supplements, and put that money toward a set of x-rays or an ultrasound! Lisa Kivett, DVM, Southern Pines, NC

Question: What are the causes of a bloody nose in horses? My 21-year-old Appendix mare had a right side sinus flap procedure to remove an abcessed tooth 4 years ago. At that time, a sinus cyst was discovered and also removed. The mare has had several short one nostril nose bleeds in the last year, bright red blood, from the left and right nostrils (never both nostrils at the same time).

Answer: We typically divide the cause of bloody noses (“epistaxis” in veterinary terminology) into two categories: unilateral (one nostril) and bilateral (two nostrils). Your horse is interesting, since you notice bleeding from both nostrils, but not at the same time! Structures in and around the nasal cavities (like the nasal passages and sinuses) are usually responsible for one-sided bleeding. Structures in the lower respiratory tract (like the lungs) and elsewhere in the body tend to be responsible for simultaneous bleeding from both nostrils.

Causes for bleeding from both nostrils simultaneously include: pneumonia and other lung diseases, exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (“bleeder” race horses), clotting disorders and a few other systemic diseases. Causes for bleeding from one nostril include sinus problems (like the cyst you mentioned), diseases of the guttural pouch, ethmoid hematoma, nasal polyps and other problems of the nasal cavity. Horses with guttural pouch problems may bleed from either one nostril or both.

With your horse’s history, I would probably recommend upper airway endoscopy first. This involves the use of an endoscope, which is a long, flexible camera. With the endoscope, your horse’s nasal passages, throat and guttural pouches could be evaluated for any problems. If nothing significant is found, x-rays of the head can show problems with the sinus cavities and tooth roots. It’s also never the “wrong” idea to have some bloodwork run! If nothing shows up on any of the tests, I might wonder whether the history of sinus surgery is a clue- perhaps she has some residual sensitive scar tissue in this area? Again, I would only make this assumption if all the tests results are clean. Lisa Kivett, DVM, Southern Pines, NC.