Ask the Vet: General Health

Coutesy of AAEP

Question: What are the pink splotches just below the coronet band on my paint horse’s rear hooves. Yes both hoof walls have them. One is streaked horizontally, and the other hoof is more of a splot.

Answer: Most likely, the pink splotches that you notice are bruising within the hoof wall. These frequently appear on horses who have thinner hoof walls, horses with selenium deficiency or simply, horses with white feet.

Karen Blake, DVM, DACVS, Park City, UT

Question: If a mare is 17 years old and has had 15 foals (13 live) and currently in foal with number 16, approximately how many more foals could she safely have?

Answer: This 100% depends on the individual mare. As mares age (and have multiple foals) they can experience many changes in their uterus, including decreased lymphatic flow, cysts and cervical changes. Eventually, the mare’s fertility will decline due to one or several of these issues, but the age at which this occurs can be highly variable. If you continue to breed her, and she continues to become pregnant and maintain the pregnancy, there’s no arbitrary limit for number of foals!

Lisa Kivett, DVM, Southern Pines, NC

Question: Can fretting from being stabled, and in muddy conditions, cause foaming and drooling?

Answer: Drooling is saliva that is either profuse release or a normal amount that is not being swallowed. If profuse and particularly slimy, it may be due to some type of irritation. If it is the type of salivation producing foaminess that is what you might see on the horse’s mouth and lips when they chew on a bit continuously, thus is less indicative to me of direct mouth irritation.

With your horse, my first examination would be to check inside the mouth making sure there is not overly sharp edges or problems with occlusion causing him to chew or irritate his cheeks. And secondly, to determine if he is chewing on something – like wood or stall items – to irritate the lips or mucosa. Thirdly, if there does not seem to be other obvious reasons why he would be drooling so much, I may want to consider ulcers as a possibility.

With a stalled horse that is fretting regularly, stomach ulcers can be present. One theory associated with “ulcer” behavior in horses is increased pain from the lesions occurs as acid is released when eating a grain meal or when fretting. Ptyalism (constant grinding of teeth) is a reaction associated with ulcers in young horses. Chewing in general causes a saliva release in all horses, and calcium containing saliva actually has a buffering effect in the stomach.

The surest way to diagnose ulcers is with a thorough endoscopic examination, which will include the stomach and upper dueodenum in the horse. If diagnosed with ulcers, the problem will usually respond well to term of 4-6 weeks of appropriate oral medication with omeprazole or ranitidine coupled with management changes such as more turnout and regular access throughout the day to grazing or access to forage.

Cindy Allen, DVM, Bit O’ Magic Equine, Aluchua, Fla.

Question: My show hunter has an old capped hock. Is there anything I can do to reduce it? He is perfectly sound.

Answer: Unfortunately, these are usually permanent blemishes on the horse. Sometimes your veterinarian can ultrasound to see if there is fluid in the bursa, which they can inject with steroids and sometimes get a decrease in swelling, but most of the time the swelling is actually scar tissue.

Karen Blake, DVM, DACVS, Park City, UT

* Reprinted with permission of the AAEP. To view the entire article please visit then click Horse owners, Ask the Vet