What diseases are common in older horses? To answer this question, a contingent of researchers recently took to the field in a bid to determine the prevalence of diseases found in older horses. The results show that despite the ripe old age horses live to, particular diseases and certian conditions can be more expected than others. Joanne Ireland, a research assistant at the University of Liverpool said “older horses are at risk for a number of health problems such as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, chronic laminitis, and recurrent airway obstruction, cancer, and heart problems.” Funded by Horse Trust, the research targeted the aging horse population.
Astoundingly, there exists limited information on how many geriatric horses, meaning those 15 years and older, have linical and may be curable diseases. Close to 30% of the equine population are geriatric horses. This means that a large number of owners may not know whether or not their horses have health problems. In the absence of that information, a disease can be wrongly associated with the aging process.
In their attempt to estimate the number of horses suffering from clinical diseases, Joanne Ireland and fellow researchers worked with a random sample of 200 geriatric horses. This was obtained from 1,144 geriatric horses across England and north Wales. Afterwards, they were checked by a veterinarian to identify any bodily diseases and ailments.
Their findings indicated in part that 26% of them were overweight, 4.5% underweight, and 71% had a skin condition - hair coat abnormalities, sarcoids, melanomas, aural plaques, insect bite hypersensitivity, or the bacterial infection dermatophilosis. Further, findings showed almost 25% of horses had hirsutism, 20% had heart murmurs and more than 50% were lame at the trot among many others.
According to Ireland, the research “clearly demonstrates that older horses frequently have one, and in many cases more than one, health problem.” This knowledge is very important to horse owners; they can be watchful to detect these diseases early and manage the treatable ones. Titled “Disease prevalence in geriatric horses in the United Kingdom: Veterinary clinical assessment in 200 cases”, the study will published in the forthcoming edition of the Equine Veterinary Journal. However, the abstract is already available online.
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.