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EIGHT SIGNS OF HORSE ILLNESS

Caring daily for your horse wellness allows you to quickly pick up on any abnormal behavior or symptoms. Your caring massage will even detect abnormalities much earlier than by sight allowing you to take immediate action. Regular stretching will also provide you direct feedback on your horse flexibility, or lack of.

In time these preventive measures will save you work and money but most importantly, they will definitely improve the quality of life of your loved animal.

In this article I want to present you 8 common signs of illness you should be able to recognize in your horse. Most of these signs are nonspecific and therefore can be associated with several different issues. In any case, each of these signs is significant and should prompt your concern. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian. The list presented here explains each of them so you know what potential problem signs to recognize:

1. Lack of Appetite - Loss of appetite is often one of the very first signs of illness in a horse. It is for this reason that it is recommended to feed your horse at a scheduled time every day so that you accurately assess his appetite.

2. Increased Water Consumption - If you notice your horse drinking more, you might want to consult your veterinarian right away. An increase in water consumption is an important sign as it often is associated with kidney problems as well as a few other diseases.

3. Weight Loss - If you feel your horse is losing weight, contact your veterinarian as it can relate to serious problem such as parasites, hormonal imbalance and others. Weight loss is a common sign of disease or illness. It can be difficult to notice weight loss in your horse as you see him every day. You might not notice subtle changes, but if he feels bonier, lighter, or you can easily feel the ribs, this could be an early sign. With horses that are not clipped regularly, the longer coat makes it more difficult to evaluate, so be attentive.

4. Less Active - Like humans, when not feeling well, horses are often less active. In young horse it can be related to a “growth cycle”. In a mature horse, being "less active" sign is often mistaken for "getting older" or possible arthritic pain. If you feel that your horse is less active, I recommend you consult your veterinarian.

5. Weakness - By weakness it is meant an overall decrease in power of propulsion at any gait, with overall balance and coordination issues. It can almost be seen as a lethargic appearance. These are serious signs and you should promptly consult your veterinarian as it can be an early sign of Lyme disease and can be treated efficiently if detected early.

6. Lethargy/Depression - A general lack of interest in the environment, in social activity and in comforting are characteristic of lethargy and/or depression. It is a very common symptom and can be an early or late sign of illness depending on the severity. These are also serious signs and you should promptly consult your veterinarian.

7. Dull Coat - When horse don't feel well they often have a dull flat coat. This can be simply related to diet or possibly to a more serious problem such as parasites or other metabolic problem. If your horse’s coat changes, you should consult your veterinarian.

8. Bad breath - More often than not, bad breath is the result from dental disease. Also known as halitosis, bad breath can be also related to other metabolic disorders. If your horse has bad breath, consult your veterinarian to find out what is the origin.

By developing a daily home care program for your horse you can easily palpate, massage and stretch your horse and pick up on early symptoms of particular problem. But observing your animal in his daily routine will also help you pick up on subtle symptoms that are often the forerunners of bigger issues.

As a good prevention measure, I recommend you have your horse examined periodically as a physical exam is a must. Remember the popular saying: alert today, alive tomorrow. Prevention is the best cure.  Also, when consulting your veterinarian, ask him to recommend you a high quality diet as well as nutritional supplements if needed.

This prevention, coupled with your daily home care of massage, stretching and hydrotherapy modalities, along with giving him plenty of exercise, will be your best gift of health to your loved animal maximizing his chance for a happy and healthy life.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful.  My goal is help you provide quality home care for the benefit of your animal.

Please visit our FREE library. Our many articles address important aspects of animal wellness and fitness. Take the time to scroll through our free library to find out how you can actively contribute to your horse’s wellness.

Animal Awareness also offers a large video library with over a 100 mini-videos that will show you how to easily perform the various massage and stretching techniques talked about in this article, and more. These videos offer you the correct start and visual guidance. With this knowledge, you will be able to develop a good home care program for the benefit of your animal friend.  He will love you for it.

Enjoy your new Awareness!

Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, LMT

A regular application of the “Full Body Massage” (EV006) allows you evaluate your horse on a daily basis, and therefore becomes a great preventive measure. Also, the use of “Stretching Exercises” (EV007) will maximize the benefit of your home-care program.

If you are just starting with your home-care program, consider our “Introduction to Animal Massage” package,a 20% discount value on the first 7 DVDs, to secure a sound foundation in your animal massage skills. Then take advantage of our other packages to increase your knowledge of home-care protocols for the benefit of your horse(s).

With aging horses, the “Recuperation Massage Routine” (EV017) and the “Trouble-Spot Massage Routine” (EV018) are two precious approaches to ease the discomfort and promote relaxation in your horse companion.