Each season brings with it a change in how we look after our horses. And each season brings with it problems we must watch for, and things we can let our guard down about. No sense in worrying about Lyme Disease in January when the snow covers the grass, but winter means we might have to watch for lice and impaction colic. Hereís a look at horse diseases and health concerns throughout the seasons.
Spring grass can be a problem for horses. After a winter of eating dry fodder, quickly changing onto fresh grass might cause colic symptoms, and can even lead to laminitis.
Potomac Horse Fever is confined to a small area of North America in the months from spring to autumn. But, it is enough of a problem that a vaccination is recommended if you are living or traveling through those areas.
Equine Influenza, Equine Viral Arteritis, and Equine Rhinopneumonitis mostly crop up in the summer months, mainly because horses are more likely to be traveling to shows and events. Both are viral diseases, passed between horses through the air, or from contact with a contaminated object like a feed bucket or bit. These diseases can crop of any time of year but are more likely in the summer.
Lyme Disease is becoming more common. During the cold months, ticks arenít active. But when things warm up, ticks are more likely to be lurking in the grass, weighting to latch onto unsuspecting wildlife, humans or pets.
Summer months mean mosquito-borne disease are more likely. This includes Eastern, Western and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis. Late summer is when West Nile Virus is more common. The mosquito that carries this virus is more active in late summer and early fall.
Rabies is another disease that can happen any time of year, but because wildlife that carries it may be moving around more during the warmer months, youíre more likely to hear about it summer.
Some animals go into semi-hibernation in the wintertime, which means they donít get around as much as they do in summer. This means areas that areas of hard winter donít have as much worry of seeing this in the cold months as compared to summer, when raccoons, and especially opossums are prowling about.
Anthrax poisoning is more common in the summer especially if there is drought.
Skin conditions that can be a problem in the summer are sweet itch, sunburn and allergic reactions.
Again, early autumn is a common time for WNV to crop up. Itís also common for rain rot and sand cracks to flare up, especially if it becomes damp and cool.
Atypical Myopathy is also most likely to occur in the autumn. This is caused by horses eating the seeds of the sycamore tree.
When the weather turns frosty, the sugars in the grass change again, which can lead to colic and laminitis, just as lush grass can in the spring.
Horses that already have Cushing's Disease are more likely to get laminitis in the fall and winter.
Impaction colic is more common in the wintertime. Horses fed dry fodder that donít drink enough water, perhaps because itís unavailable or too chilly may have this digestive problem.
Strangles tends to be more prevalent in the winter when horses might be kept indoors in close quarters. This disease is very contagious and can go through barns like wildfire.
Equine Coronavirus is most common in foals, but in recent years it's been seen in horses over two years of age. It is most common from December through May.
Lice like to hide beneath warm winter blankets where it is dark and cozy in the winter months.
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