1538 I 49 N. Service Road · Sunset, LA · (337) 662-5930
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Ask the Veterinarian

This is a special section of our website where you can ask anyone of our veterinarians a question. We will regularly post information that will educate you about horse care and treatment options. We will upload links to informative videos as well.

Email your questions to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

What do I do if I have an emergency?

Have the following ready:

* Owner's name and phone number
* Name, age, breed, sex of the horse
* Description of the problem
* Insurance company name and phone number (if applicable)
* Paper and pencil to write down instructions

Call the hospital (337) 662-5930. If it is not normal working hours, you will reach the answering service. You should briefly discuss your emergency and give contact information where you can be reached. Stay by the phone. Your call will be returned as soon as possible by the on call veterinarian.

What are the symptoms for gastric ulcers?

The majority of horses with gastric ulcers do not show outward symptoms. They have more sublte symptoms, such as poor appetite, decreased performance and a poor hair coat. More serious cases will show abdominal pain (colic) and/or bruxism (grinding the teeth).

Some horses are found on their backs or continually "cast" in their stalls since this position seems to provide some relief from severe gastric ulceration.


The only way to definitely diganose ulcers is through gastroscopy, which involves placing an endoscope in the stomach and looking at its surface. To all this, the stomach must be empty, so most horses are held off feed for 12 to 24 hours and not allowed to drink water for two to three hours. With light sedation and possibly a twitch, the endoscope is passed through the nostril and down the esophagus into the stomach. The light and camera on the end of the endoscope allow the veterinarian ot observe the stomach lining.

What are recommended vaccination guidelines?

These guidelines are intended to be a reference used by veterinarians utilizing vaccines in their respective practices. They are neither regulations nor directives and should not be interpreted as such. It is the responsibility of attending veterinarians, through an appropriate veterinarian-client-patient relationship, to utilize relevant information coupled with product availability to determine optimal health care programs for their patients. Based on the professional judgment of those involved with the development of these guidelines, the recommendations for vaccine administration in this document may differ from the manufacturer’s recommendation. However, it is incumbent on each individual practitioner to reach a decision on vaccine usage based on the circumstances of each unique situation and his or her professional experience.


Information provided in these guidelines addresses only those products licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for use in horses (including draft and pony breeds).  There are limited data regarding the use of vaccines in other equidae (i.e. asses, donkeys, mules, miniature horses, and zebra); vaccination of these animals is at the discretion of the attending veterinarian. 

The AAEP thanks the members of the Infectious Disease Committee for their work in preparing these guidelines: Mary C. Scollay, DVM, Chair; D. Craig Barnett, DVM; William Bernard, DVM, Dip. ACVIM; Gordon W. Brumbaugh, DVM, Ph.D.; Brian S. Carroll, DVM; Noah Cohen, VMD, Ph.D.; Tim Cordes, DVM; Roberta M. Dwyer, DVM, MS, Dip. ACVPM; Robert E. Holland Jr., DVM, Ph.D.; Daniel G. Kenney, VMD, Dip. ACVIM; Maureen T. Long, DVM, Ph.D.; Paul Lunn, BVSc, MS, Ph.D., MRCVS, Dip. ACVIM; Peter Timoney, MVB, Ph.D., FRCVS; Josie L. Traub-Dargatz, DVM, MS, Dip. ACVIM; Julie Wilson, DVM, DACVIM; and W. David Wilson, MRCVS.


Copyright AAEP 2008

How soon can I transport my horse after she has been vaccinated?

We suggest waiting a couple (48 hours) of days after a round of immunizations, especially if you use modified live vaccines, such as for strangles (Streptococcus equi) Pinnacle intra nasal and the influenza A Flu-Avert intranasal vaccine. The horse actually gets a good immune boost with these vaccines, stimulating both humoral (antibody response) and cell mediated responses (macrophages, monocytes and lymphocytes). It takes about 10 to 14 days to complete the anamnestic immune response from the vaccines, which means your horse is at peak immunity. Thank you for your question.

What is EHV-1?

About Equine Herpesvirus - From AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners

Equine herpesvirus is a common DNA virus that occurs in horse populations worldwide. The two most common strains are EHV-1, which causes abortion, respiratory disease and neurologic disease; and EHV-4, which usually causes respiratory disease only but can occasionally cause abortion.

Respiratory disease caused by EHV is most common in weaned foals and yearlings, often in autumn and winter. Older horses are more likely than younger ones to transmit the virus without showing signs of infection. Although EHV-1 causes outbreaks of abortion, EHV-4 has only been associated with single occurrences and is not considered a risk for contagious abortions


EHV-1 myeloencephalitis results from widespread vascular injury after damage to the vascular endothelium of the blood-brain barrier. Neurologic signs result from vasculitis, thrombosis, and necrosis of neurologic tissue. Herpesvirus myeloencephalitis cases occur singly or as outbreaks affecting 20-50% of the population. They may or may not be associated with a previous or ongoing EHV-1 respiratory disease outbreak.


Clinical Signs

Fever—commonly precedes other clinical signs, but may be the only clinical sign and goes undetected.

Respiratory disease



Nasal discharge

Neonatal foals infected in utero are usually abnormal from birth:



Respiratory distress/stridor

CNS signs (occasionally)

Death commonly occurs within 3 days.

Older foals: nasal discharge is most common sign of illness.


Usually no warning signs of impending abortion

Typically occurs late pregnancy (8+ months); occasionally as early as 4 months.

Neurologic disease:

Incoordination of the hind (and occasionally fore) limbs

Urine retention/dribbling

Bladder atony


Neurologic signs may be preceded by fever and respiratory signs.



After infection by any route, incubation period may be as short as 24 hours, is typically 4-6 days, but can be longer.

EHV abortion can occur from two weeks to several months following infection with the virus.


Aerosol transmission (most common route)

Inhalation of droplets from coughing and snorting.

Note: EHV is not as easily spread by this route as is Equine Influenza virus.

Mares who have aborted, or whose foals have died, transmit infection via the respiratory route.

Shedding by the respiratory route typically lasts for 7-10 days, but can persist much longer.

Therefore a 28-day isolation period is recommended after diagnosis.

Indirect transmission

Virus can be viable for several weeks in the environment once it has been shed by the horse.

Fomites are a significant factor in EHV contagion as compared to influenza virus.

Aborted fetuses, fetal membranes and/or fluids are significant sources of infection.

Infected foals are highly contagious and can transmit infection to other horses via the respiratory route and by shedding virus into the environment.


Diagnostic Testing

Virus isolation



Serological diagnosis using Viral Neutralization titers (synonym: Serum Neutralization titers) cannot distinguish between EHV-1 and EHV-4. Nevertheless, in combination with specific clinical signs, a four-fold rise in titer can assist in diagnosis. When a single virus neutralization

titer is very high (typically 1:1024 to 1:2048 or greater) this is likely to be the result of recentinfection rather than vaccination.

Complement fixation titers have been reported to be useful in diagnosis of recent infection; however, commercial testing is currently unavailable in N. America.

A commercial test kit, suitable for use in practice, is available for detection and differentiation of

EHV-1 and EHV-4 specific antibodies directed against a viral glycoprotein called gG (Svanovir™: www.svanova.comhttp://www.svanova.com/).


Shedding Time of Organism Past Resolution of Clinical Signs

Likely for up to a week, possible for 21 days or more. Recovered horses typically develop latent infections and are capable of shedding virus (with or without

clinical disease) particularly at times of stress for the remainder of their lives.


Environmental Persistence

Environmental transmission plays a minor role in the maintenance of virus in the horse population since environmental persistence of EHV-1 is short, estimated to be no more than 35 days under ideal conditions and probably less than 7 days in most practical field situations


Specific Control Measures

Biosecurity Guidelines


Booster vaccination of healthy animals in primary and secondary contagion control perimeter may have some value, and is not known to lead to complications. If animals are unvaccinated prior to series during the risk period.

clinically normal horses housed within the primary perimeter may be permitted segregated exercise periods outside the perimeter. Precautions should be taken, and may include:

Exercise scheduled after general population’s exercise period to avoid potential virus transfer to unaffected horses/barns by exercise riders

Access to starting gate or similar equipment denied

Restricted use of ponies/outriders’ horses—horses housed within the primary perimeter may only be escorted by horses housed within the same facility.

Direct horse-to-horse contact is to be avoided.

Prompt post-contact use of hand sanitizer by individuals having contact with horses during exercise

Release of animals from isolation

Maintain isolation procedures (primary perimeter) for 28 days after last suspected new infection.

In the absence of clinical disease, the risk of exposure decreases with time.

Biosecurity Issues for Receiving Animals

Horses having been housed within primary perimeter:

Isolate from general population for 28 days

Horses having been housed within secondary biosecurity perimeter:

After having determined its level of risk-aversion, the recipient facility may consider the following:

Vaccination requirements for entrance into facility

Health certificate specifications

Testing (negative PCR from nasal swab)

Update vaccination for animals at recipient facility before arrival of potentiallyinfected/exposed animal.

How do I take care of my horse is this extreme heat?

Extreme heat takes it toll on your horses. Make sure your horses have access to lots of fresh, cool water and shelter from the sun - trees in paddocks are Mother Nature's best shade. Keep fans on horses in barns and make sure the ceilings are high to allow and stalls have lots of ventilation.

It is a good idea to give your horses electrolytes throughout the summer to encourage them to drink more water and replenish electrolytes lost through sweating.

Be careful not to over exert your horse when excercising and training them. They can develop heat exhaustion just like you can. Make sure you both are hydrating and use the coolest part of the day, early morning or late evening for riding.

What is Equine Piroplasmosis?

Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) is a tick-borne disease that affects horses, donkeys, mules and zebras. The disease is transmitted via ticks or through mechanical transmission by improperly sanitized surgical, dental or tattoo instruments or through the reuse of needles  and syringes. EP is considered to be a foreign animal disease in the U.S., but it occurs in many other areas of the world.

An infected horse can take 5 to 30 days to show signs of the disease. Mild forms of EP can appear as weakness and lack of appetite. More severe signs include fever, anemia, weight loss, jaundiced mucous membranes, a swollen abdomen (edema fluid accumulation), swelling of the limbs and labored breathing. Other signs of EP can include central nervous system disturbances, roughened hair coats, constipation, colic and hemoglobinuria – a condition which gives urine a reddish or dark brown color to the urine. Chronic infection often results in nonspecific clinical signs such as mild inappetence, poor performance and weight loss. The spleen may be enlarged on rectal examination. Some cases may progress to death. Some infected horses, may however, show few or no signs of disease after infection and may not experience any decreased performance.

Horses that survive the acute phase of infection continue to carry the parasites for long periods of time. These horses, often called chronic carriers, are potential sources of infection for other horses through tick-borne transmission or mechanical transfer by reuse of needles/syringes or surgical, dental or tattoo instruments that have not been adequately sanitized between horses.

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