Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Vet Check

The vet just left my ranch and I've got three sedated Arabian horses standing in a huddle outside. I've also got the cap of one of Gabbrielle's baby teeth in my pocket, and am suffering from sticker shock. When I only had two horses, the immunizations, teeth floats, and sheath cleanings added up to around $250 in the past. When I got my third horse, the bill jumped up to around $400 for a ranch visit and having those services performed. That was last year. This year the cost skyrocketed to $600, and of course the vet is recommending that I float their teeth again in the fall. The vet who came out last year said I was floating their teeth too often. Who can I believe?

I've had to use different veterinarians through the years mainly due to scheduling problems, and I am always amazed how each one is so very different in his/her beliefs. One vet told me to worm every 12 weeks while another recommended every 6 weeks. Today's vet recommended every 8 weeks in the summer and every 12 weeks in the winter, with one of those 5-day doses of the Panacur Power Pac or one dose of Quest paste administered to the exact body weight. She said that Quest can cause a temporary neurological reaction if you administer the whole tube to a lighter weight horse. That was an interesting piece of advice I hadn't heard before.

I asked about how the West Nile Virus has been affecting horses around here. I know we've had a handful of humans contracting it. She said she only saw one horse that had contracted it last year. People in our area are doing a good job keeping up with their horses' immunizations, plus the horses have been bit by mosquitoes enough times that they've built up their own immunities to that. She said that the West Nile Virus vaccine is very powerful and can have a life of up to three years.

All three of my horses did a fabulous job of cooperating with the vet. I went out an hour early to lunge and groom each of them, so they'd be in listening mode and relaxed. It only took one shot of sedative per horse. If I take them to the clinic at the fairgrounds, they get so nervous with all the activity around them that it can take up to 4 shots to settle them down. That gets expensive, so I prefer to just pay for the ranch visit. The vet was impressed with Gabbrielle's sweet demeanor, Bombay's awesomeness, and Lostine's classic Arabian head.

On a sad note, while shoveling our composted manure, my husband dug into a rabbit's nest. He dug up at least three baby bunnies that were about an inch and a half long. We were both shocked, as it never occurred to us that a pregnant rabbit would burrow into our manure pile and give birth there. The baby bunnies were screaming like baby birds. I buried everything but their heads to keep them warm, and they eventually worked their way back into what was left of their nest, which appeared to be a web or cocoon of rabbit fur. I'll keep an eye on them and hope that the mother rabbit will continue to raise them despite the nest being partially destroyed. I asked the vet if she knew anything about bunnies, but her training was purely equine.

In the meantime, I've got one of Gabbrielle's baby teeth in my pocket, so I'll have to put it under her pillow and hope that the Tooth Fairy brings her a carrot.


Flying Lily said...

You really prepared your horses for the vet well. So often they just get dragged out of the pasture and here's this funny smelling stranger ready to stick them with needles. Isn't it great when your horses make you proud?

Sorry about the bunnies - I've never heard of them nesting in a manure pile either. Guess it is plenty warm

Rising Rainbow said...

I have had the same experience with vets. They all have their own ideas about the same things and it can get really confusing.

As for Quest, you have to be very careful with that product. Giving the dose by body weight is absolutely important and it also very important to not give Quest to a horse that is underweight. Not underweight like 50 pounds but more than that you need to be very careful. The component that makes Quest work is stored in the horse's muscle tissue. The dose being determined off of weight takes into account a healthy, normal weight horse. Underweight horses have less muscle and more bone and that screws up how much of the stuff is stored in the muscle and causes toxicity. That toxicity is often fatal. I learned this information for a representative of a drug company that was marketing the product when it first came out. We were talking about two horses that had died in my area from horses administered Quest.

As for the Panacur PowerPak, I see no reason to administer that unless a horse is having problems flourishing or showing some signs of worms. Wormers are poison not just for the worms but for the horses as well. They can cause their own set of problems if used unjudiciously.

Donna L. said...

Non-horse owner here. I just Googled floating equine teeth as I wasn't sure exactly what it meant. Article states that time between filings varies by horse because each one's teeth grow at varying rates. That makes sense to me and maybe explains your conflicting vet's opinions.
Enjoy your blog.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

We find baby bunnies in the hay bales in the spring when we move them. I try to stick them in a safe place as close to the old nest as possible. They are usually gone the next day. I prefer to think that momma bunny has moved them...
Because most of our horses are in large pastures(200-400 acres) we worm 2x's a year - June/July and December/January. When I have stalled/penned horses I try to worm every 3 months. I realize this is far from what vets recommend, but it seems to work. Only occasionally have we had to worm someone in between the regular schedule if we noticed signs of worms - mane/tail rubbing, pot bellies or curled hair on the back or a worm in the poop.
Of course this winter we found out the mane/tail rubbing wasn't from worms but the lice/tick problems everyone around here is experiencing. Using Poridon cured that problem.
The reasoning behind my beliefs? In college we studied the life cycle of worms in our Equine Management class and according to their life cycles most are easily controled on an 8 week worming schedule in a normal, healthy horse. Of course wormers must be rotated to catch certain worms at certain times.
Hope that helps...

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks, everyone, for your input. I forgot to mention in the post that the vet suggested that either the Panacur Power Pac or the Quest be administered in the Fall. They are the only two products that attack encysted small strongyles. I've been reading up on the various reactions that people's horses have had to Quest. It doesn't seem worth the risk. Also, I believe that the mama bunny did come back for her babies, because there was a fresh hole dug into the manure pile the next day.

Callie said...

I worm every 12 weeks with Ivermectin and in the Autumn, I use a combo wormer to include tape worms. Mikael is right, it can be toxic and if used too much, eventually ineffective, so I've been told. Sorry about the bunnies. We have a little bunny nest right between my hay/feed shed and the horses shelter.

Lulu said...

Wowza! Worming every 6 weeks for adult horses?

I worm mature horses two to three times a year. My youngesters are wormed monthly for their first year, then every other month until 2 years old.

As Rising Rainbow said, wormers are poison! As a girl my mom had a mare that had chronic sand colic. Every time the vet would treat her, he would instruct my mom to worm her a couple days later. The vet's instructions ended up killing the horse. Her liver shut down from the wormer, and we had to put her down after two weeks on an IV at the vet hospital.

I've always heard that a yearly teeth float is a good idea for mature horses. I don't think I've ever had to float one under 6 years of age. Instead of following a time table, I watch the horse's body condition. When their condition does not look as good as the others, I worm them and have their teeth checked.

Twinville said...

Ok, so now I feel justified to inform the people who keep telling me I must get at least one more horse, that they are nuts!

$600.00 per visit for 3 horses? Yowza!

As a new horse owner I feel like I need to adjust slowly to all of the changes and responsibilities that a horse owner is expected to do. I know I'd be overwhelmed with more than one horse right now, not even including the financial aspect.

But I tell you. I am really in awe of horse owners that have more than one horse and who dedicate the extra time and money to make sure their horses get the best care possible. Way to go!

Couple questions for my experienced blogger buddy:

1)How does one tell if their horse needs it's teeth floated?

2)Is it always necessary to sedate a horse before a vet visit?

Thanks in advance!

and I'm glad to hear that it seems the mama bunny came back and redug a new nest for her little babies.

Happy Spring!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Twinville -
Some ways I know of regarding how one tells if their horse needs to have its teeth floated:
1) Your vet can tell you after two annual teeth floats as far as how often your horse should need it based on the condition and growth patterns of your horse's teeth. (Different vets will tell you different things);
2) If you dare, you can stick your thumb in the corner of the horse's mouth, grab the tongue when the horse opens its mouth, and feel along the teeth for sharp points while you are holding its tongue with the other hand and it has its mouth open;
3) If your horse is throwing its head around a lot when there is a bit in its mouth or behaving in a more sensitive way than normal when you use the reins, it could be because the teeth are bothering it;
4) If the horse is having trouble chewing its food, it could be because its teeth are bothering it.
5) If the horse is chewing wood a lot more than normal, it could be because its teeth are bothering it.

As far as sedation goes, I think it depends on the vet and the horse. Teeth floating is essentially prying open the horse's mouth with a metal mouthpiece and hand-filing the tops of the teeth to remove sharp points, waves, and steps. It's rather barbaric and I know I would need to be sedated to let a dentist do that to me.

photogchic said...

Ouch---that vet bill has to hurt! So sad about the little bunnies...hope mom comes back. Keep us posted.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

If you guys want to see what the headgear that is used to float teeth looks like - I just had my geldings done and there is a picture of one of the horses with it on on Friday's post.
We switched from a vet floating our horse's teeth to an equine dentist. Not many of the vets around here have the power tools that this guy uses and the horses mouths seem to recover much quicker. I think the hand float that most of the vets use is pretty hard on the gums of the horse's mouth.
In my case this guy isn't much more expensive than the vet would be and I don't have to haul my horses, so they are much more relaxed(even before sedation-LOL).
Sorry NM - not trying to horn in on your discussion...:)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

browneyed - Oh, thanks for pointing out your post. I wanted to get picture of the headgear, but my vet needed me to hold the head and assist her. No time to run into the house and search for the camera. I wish I had just brought it out ahead of time, but I've never been one to be prepared. Anyway, I had to use a vet who was also certified as an equine dentist for Lostine, because she needed the power tools every six months for several years. The power tools definitely drew less blood. This is everybody's discussion, so you are not horning in.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

What was up with Lostine's mouth? I have only ever had 2 horses that were problematic in their teeth and required work every 6-7 months. My current barrel gelding(but his are almost fixed and he will be able to go back to yearly floats after the next one) and another barrel horse I had that had missing teeth and was parrot mouthed. He required work about every 7-8 months to keep his hooks down and his teeth even.
I am always curious to know what other people have experienced...

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

browneyed - Lostine has both wave and step mouth. When I was having her teeth hand-filed, the vets always complained that they could hardly put a dent in her problems with the file, and that I really needed a power-float by a certified equine dentist. At the time, I was told we had none in our area, so I would have had to trailer her a great distance. I just kept encouraging the local vets to do the best they could. Eventually, I found a local vet who specialized in equine dentistry. He insisted on the 6-month schedule for several years. Then another vet got his training in equine dentistry and I gave him a try. He said that her teeth had been ground down too far and I should return to hand-filing just once a year. This latest vet is now recommending hand-filing every 6-months to avoid future power-floats, which are more expensive. Lostine is a senior horse (20 years old), so her teeth should slow down their growth soon.

Twinville said...

Thanks for all the info, Nuzzling Muzzles and Browneyed Cowgirl.
I saw the fascinating pics on your blog, too.

It really does seem barbaric, sort of like a torture chamber procedure. And there's blood, too, you say??!

No wonder sedatives are used. Forget the sedatives for me, though...just put me out!