Ask the Vet – Thrush, Anemia, Ulcers, and more! – March 2016

Ask the Vet – Thrush, Anemia, Ulcers, and more! – March 2016

SARAH: Hey guys. SmartPaker Sarah
here, and I’m back for the March edition of our
“Ask the Vet” video series here with our Staff Veterinarian
and Medical Director, Dr. Lydia Gray. DR LYDIA GRAY: Hey there. SARAH: And I want to thank
you all for participating. Questions were submitted
by fans like you, voted on by fans like you,
and we selected the top five. And we’re really excited to go
through those questions now. If you guys want to stay
up-to-date with the latest on our “Ask the
Vet” video series, make sure you check out so that you can stay in the loop. DR LYDIA GRAY: How
do you remember that? SARAH: I remember all of them. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. SARAH: All right. You ready to get started? DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, man. Yes. SARAH: OK. Let’s jump in with question one. This was submitted by Mercy to
our [email protected] email address. So she emailed our
Customer Care team. And she is looking for
some mercy against thrush. She says, how can you
prevent thrush in the spring when your horse is outside 24/7,
when there’s mud and melting snow? What do you think? DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, it doesn’t
matter what I think because, this one, I cheated. SARAH: It always
matters what you think. DR LYDIA GRAY: And we have a
Hoof Health Care Consultant at SmartPak, Danvers Child,
Certified Journeymen Farrier. He’s quite good. When I saw this was leading
the charge of the questions, I said, hey Danvers,
you want to answer it? And he did. So can I just read
that so I don’t– SARAH: I wish you would. DR LYDIA GRAY: So he says,
horses were pretty much designed to be out 24/7. So in some ways,
that’s an advantage since the horse is
not confined which can lead to insufficient
activity and reduced stimulation. So while being turned out
will potentially create more exposure to moisture and
ick– see it says, ick– SARAH: That’s a
very technical term. DR LYDIA GRAY: The activity will
typically offset those issues by aiding in normal hoof
cleaning and increase stimulation. So all good. Beyond that, I always
reference Dr. Stephen O’Grady who says that proper,
regular, and professional hoof trimming is the best way
to avoid and/or treat thrush. We generally talk about trimming
in relation to biomechanics. So that is a scientific word. But Dr. O’Grady is going
back to the more basic issue of talking about
overall hoof health and how maintaining proper
load distribution is vital, especially in relation
to the caudal, or the rear, the heel
aspect of the foot. So the activity promotes good
clean out of organic ick, stimulates hoot health by
promoting good vascular recirculation. And regular maintenance
– trimming – allows the hoof to capitalize
on that activity and function optimally. There’s… I don’t know what that means. Maintenance may need
to be increased– so on a shortened cycle– in
the spring, which is often a period of rapid hoof growth. SARAH: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
did that make sense? SARAH: It made sense. The word that I think he
uses in a different way than most horse owners are
used to is stimulation. When I think of
any stimulation, I think about mental
stimulation, being engaged. And I don’t think that’s
quite what he means. Although horses can get
bored in their stalls. DR LYDIA GRAY: They can. They can. SARAH: What do you think he’s
talking about with stimulation. DR LYDIA GRAY: I
think that Danvers means mechanical,
moving, circulation, vascularity, stimulating the
blood vessels and blood flow. That’s what he means. SARAH: Movement is
critical to hoof health. DR LYDIA GRAY: Correct. SARAH: And so this
horse being turned out, that’s a great advantage. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Yeah. So he really liked that part. So I think he’s impressed. SARAH: OK. I like it. Great job, Mercy. All right. Question two. We have Kellie who commented
on our “Ask the Vet” video on YouTube. And Kellie’s asking,
if you could go over anemia in horses and
some treatment options, and how writers can
help prevent anemia? I think it might be most helpful
to start with what is anemia. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Based on what you
asked me before, I was going to say maybe we
should just define anemia. So anemia is a decrease in
the number of red blood cells. OK. Next layer on top of that
is iron– low iron or iron deficiency– is
not a common cause of anemia in horses
as a species. Horses have this
really elegant system of recycling their
iron via their spleen when red blood cells get
damaged, lost, or destroyed– not lost, but destroyed. So that’s good. SARAH: How would iron
deficiency cause anemia? Is iron used to make
red blood cells? DR LYDIA GRAY: Iron
is a key mineral. It’s a mineral, right. In the hemoglobin molecule
that’s inside red blood cells, and that’s what allows red
blood cells to carry oxygen. So you breathe it in our lungs,
the blood gets oxygenated, and then the red blood cells
carry it around and give it to our tissues. And it’s iron being a part of
hemoglobin that allows that. But the only way that
horses need more iron is if they actually lose blood. Now, you can lose
blood acute or chronic. I always get back
to the science. Acute would be like
a wound or an injury. Chronic would be something
that maybe you wouldn’t notice. It’d be gastric
ulcers– so you wouldn’t see those– parasites– so
like a slow, leaking of blood over a long time, chronic. So the important thing
when I think of anemia is you have got to figure
out the root cause. Clearly, if it’s acute blood
loss, you have to staunch that. If it’s chronic blood
loss and your veterinarian can help you determine what
the underlying cause is and you address that. In the meantime,
you can supplement with a product that is
appropriate for the kind of anemia that your horse has. So if there’s blood loss,
certainly something with iron would be good. But if there’s not, then
the B vitamins, minerals, micro minerals like
copper, cobalt, zinc those kind of things. Specifically Vitamin B12. That’s what I
think of as needing to be on board when the
horse is creating more blood. But it really comes down to
what is the cause of the anemia. SARAH: OK. Interesting. Because I think a
lot of people think anemia is a pretty
common thing in horses. I think it’s the thing you
hear in low energy horses. DR LYDIA GRAY: I get
that impression too. And it’s not super common,
and certainly iron deficiency anemia, not at all common. SARAH: OK. Great to know. Question three is by Berit
on a YouTube comment: what are some essentials
for an equine first aid kit? DR LYDIA GRAY: Cheating again. I did pull one
from our inventory. If you will help
me go through that. SARAH: I would be happy to. DR LYDIA GRAY: There’s
a blog that we did, and the Horse Health Library
has a lot of good articles. And there’s one on
equine first aid. At the end of that
article, there’s the list that I’m going to use
that lists what should be in your first aid kit. And I have a couple
first aid kits. So I have one in my trailer. SARAH: That does
not surprise me. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. I have one in the barn. I think I have one in my house. Yeah. They’re everywhere. And they have different
things in them, and they’re different sizes. So this one is sort of a medium. It’s more than the basics,
but it’s not the big one. So I’ll start reading. I know the first
thing on my list is not in here, and that’s
OK because this bag has so many pockets. You’re doing a great job. SARAH: Thank you. DR LYDIA GRAY: Look
at these pockets. They’re everywhere. So you can stay really super
organized with this first aid kit that we sell even if
you have to add some things and replace some things. Oh before I forget. If you or someone
else, your friend, uses something from the
kit, replace it right away. Because there’s nothing
worse than saying, oh, I bought this
great first aid kit. I know where it is. And then you go to use it, and
the very thing that you need is not in there. So if you use it, replace it. So the first thing
is a thermometer. And the little gadgets
are down in here, and they have really good things
like hoof picks and tweezers and bandage scissors. But there’s no thermometer. So buy this, and then
go to Walgreens or CVS, get a digital thermometer,
drop it in here. Done. SARAH: People thermometer
is good enough? DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, yeah. Digital is fine. The scissors are right there. They have a lot of
antibiotic ointment. This is nice, because they have
it for people and for horses. They were really
thinking ahead there. SARAH: Yeah. People do get injured. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. When horses get injured,
probably sometimes the people do, too. Saline, I use for
cleaning out wounds. There’s iodine scrub. I think there’s something–
maybe it’s in this pocket. Yeah! This is really cool. This is a sponge that
already has iodine in it. So it’s very fast. You don’t have to go gather a
sponge and iodine and water. SARAH: And try to
make it sterile. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. You just peel the
top and ready to go. This is great! This pocket also has some
Vetrap and some Elastikon. What does your pocket have? Oh, more Vetrap Yeah. SARAH: Good colors, too. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Mine’s hot pink. SARAH: Oh, nice for the mares. DR LYDIA GRAY: Electrolytes. OK. What else? SARAH: I think that’s all
we got going on over here. More Vetrap More electrolytes. DR LYDIA GRAY: That’s the next
thing on my list is Vetrap SARAH: Can’t get enough. DR LYDIA GRAY: There’s gauze
all in the middle here. Tape. Is there tape in this one? I’m not sure if there’s a tape. SARAH: I don’t know. DR LYDIA GRAY: I have on my
list several different types of tape. The next thing is
needles and syringes. And my caution with
those– while she’s still looking for the tape– with
needles and syringes, only have them in your kit if
you know how to use them. That advice actually
applies to everything. So what I don’t have on my list
is a brace for a broken leg. Well, because not
a lot of people know how to properly use it. So don’t put anything in
here that you’re going to do more harm than good with. So if you know how
to give a shot, fine. Have needles and syringes. If you don’t, wait
for the veterinarian. SARAH: There is not
tape in this kit. I think most riders hear
tape, think duct tape. I’m guessing that’s not
what you’re looking for. DR LYDIA GRAY: No! No! Right here. Duct tape. SARAH: Duct tape. OK DR LYDIA GRAY: You should
have it everywhere, but I also have white bandage
tape, medical tape, first aid tape. Yeah. Have lots of tape. Tape is always good. The hoof pick was here. I saw it. Gloves. I saw gloves
somewhere back there. They have a flashlight in here. SARAH: They do. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Check the battery. They don’t have in
here pens or markers, but– thank you–
pens and markers. But that’s easy to add. I would add paper, too. Tweezers I saw. And then I have
stethoscope– question mark. So I know how to use it and it’s
a nice thing to put in there. If you want to, great. If not, that’s fine, too. So check these out. We have three or four,
five different ones. Check out the article on
the Horse Health Library, but I think that everything
you need is on this list, in the bag, and you’re all set. SARAH: Good place to start. Fantastic. OK. You can never have enough
Vetrap You can never have enough duct tape. That’s what we learned. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
many uses for it. SARAH: That’s fantastic. Our next question comes
from Ryan who submitted it via YouTube comment, as well. And Ryan would love to
know more about ulcers in horses and recommendations
as far as detection, but also treatment methods, and then
long-term maintenance for what Ryan is calling
an “ulcery” horse. I think we all
know one of those. DR LYDIA GRAY: I use a little
bit different language. So he uses the word
‘detection,’ and I would use ‘diagnosis.’ Yeah. And that’s something that
your veterinarian does. There’s only really one way
to definitively diagnose gastric ulcers, and that
is with an endoscope. So they stick the video
scope through the nose, down into the stomach, and
they actually visualize them. SARAH: How does it go from
the nose to the stomach? The nose goes to the
lungs for breathing. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, you go
through the sinus passages. And then when it comes
to the throat area, instead of continuing into
the respiratory passages, you slip down an opening
and go into the esophagus. SARAH: And because the vet has
the endoscope with the camera, they can see where
they’re going. DR LYDIA GRAY: They can. They’re driving it. It’s quite cool. SARAH: Very sciencey. DR LYDIA GRAY: Horses though
don’t like it as much. So they will be sedated
for that and fasted. So it’s not
inexpensive, and it’s not– it is a
little bit invasive. So not everyone does it. The next method then is
response to treatment. And again, there’s only
one FDA-approved medication for ulcers, and that’s
GastroGard, is the brand name. Omeprazole is the chemical name. And so you can give
that prescription from your veterinarian. You give that, and then
after a day or two, you see if your horse is better. And that would be what’s
called response to treatment. SARAH: Oh, OK. So you’re kind of by
solving the problem, seeing if it corrects
it, then you know– DR LYDIA GRAY: You’re
on the right track. SARAH: If it worked, it probably
was the problem to begin with. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And so if it worked, you have
to keep giving the GastroGard because at least 14 days–
21 or 28’s more like it– but your veterinarian
will tell you based on the severity of the ulcers. But in addition, there are some
things that you need to do. So you need to sort of
look at your whole feeding and management, turnout
exercise, show schedule, plan, and say, am I creating too
much stress for my horse? Do I need to back
off a little bit? Do I need to reduce the exercise
a little bit while he heals? Am I feeding him correctly? Because remember horses
feed all day long. And in modern horse keeping, we
might give them two huge meals, like morning and night. And that’s just not
enough for their system which is continuously
producing acid in the stomach. So they need to swallow. The saliva is basic,
and it buffers the acid. They need food,
forage, also in that. Hay all the time,
small hole hay nets are the– did he
say ulcery horse? SARAH: Ulcery horse. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Small hole hay nets are the ulcery horse’s friend. Really, really like those. But keeping hay in front
of a horse all the time is really the number
one thing you can do. SARAH: So with horses constantly
producing stomach acid, that’s not like people. DR LYDIA GRAY: Not quite. It’s one of the differences
between horses and humans. SARAH: And so that’s
why horses tend to be more ulcer-prone
when we feed them on a human sort of schedule. DR LYDIA GRAY: When
it’s convenient for us. Yeah. Their stomachs are
made in two parts, and the acid that’s
accumulating sloshes around to parts that it
shouldn’t when there’s not enough food coming through and
using it up and neutralizing the acid. SARAH: So you talked
about when you’re treating a horse for ulcers,
you can evaluate the situation and look for areas of stress. Are there ways if you
know your horse is going to be experiencing
stress that you can better help prepare them for that
so that you don’t end up– if you say you’re going to be at
a horse show for a long weekend or something and that’s
tough on your horse, is there stuff you can
do to prepare in advance? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Well, put some thought into–
am I doing the right thing? Do I need to bring
a friend along? But also, the same
company that makes the GastroGard makes
another FDA approved product called UlcerGard. So it’s the same medication,
Omeprazole, but a lower amount. And you can give that as a ulcer
preventative, which is nice. There’s another
thing you can do. So it’s a
three-pronged approach, which is you can have a
supplement that has some proven ingredients in it to maintain
stomach health on board all the time and then ramp it up
with the UlcerGard for a show. And then if your horse
does break through and has ulcers again–
because he’s prone and you maybe haven’t fixed
all your issues– then there’s always the
GastroGard left. SARAH: OK. And when you say a supplement
with proven ingredients, do you think
SmartGut Ultra, which was in the research study
at the clinical university? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. That’s the one
I’m talking about. SARAH: The right sort of
choice for a horse long-term. DR LYDIA GRAY: I do because
LSU and Dr. Frank Andrews did some research on that. And they presented it
at AAEP not last year. So not 2015, but 2014. And it was just
really tremendous. Lots of significance
with what they did. SARAH: I’ve heard a
really positive response from a lot of veterinarians who
were impressed by the research and excited to have an option
for that ulcery horse in terms of long-term maintenance and
supporting a healthy stomach. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Just keeping the stomach
healthy and happy. Yeah. SARAH: A lot of things I
think about horses is like, just try to keep them happy. DR LYDIA GRAY: Happy. SARAH: I’m sure you
guys can relate. So our last question,
last but not least, we have Jessica
who also submitted her question via YouTube. And Jessica, you’re
wondering what’s the best exercise for
an overweight horse? She’d like to have
something she can do that doesn’t take
too long, but she wants to be able to do it every day. She’s at the barn every day,
which I think is fantastic. And she very sweetly says that
her horse is a little chubster, and she’d like to have an
efficient exercise that they can do so that she can make sure
he’s maintaining or achieving a healthy weight. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well,
I looked– again, the Horse Health Library – great
articles, if I say so myself. SARAH: And they’re
written by you. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And they’re written by me. And then the Ask the
Vet blog has good stuff. And so I– that’s where I go for
information because this is not the first time I’ve been
asked this question. And so I have two blogs. One’s called “Exercising
the Easy Keeper,” and the other one’s
“Turnout Time vs Exercise.” Let me start with that one
because that one actually shocked me a little bit. And I answer her,
buy a lottery ticket! This is your day! So there was a study
out of Virginia, and what they found is
that horses turned out– not in dry lots or
paddocks– but in a pasture. So big, large,
rolling, pastures. And I know not everyone
has that, but it’s a start. Horses turned out on pastures
have the same fitness as horses that were
stalled and exercised. So they had three groups. They had the just pasture
turnout over the winter. SARAH: No riding. DR LYDIA GRAY: No. Group number two was stalled
and then daily exercise. And then group three
was just stalled. So clearly, group
three went down in their fitness
and other parameters they measured, but groups
one and two were the same. I thought that was
really interesting. SARAH: So your
horse will sort of take care of himself
left to his own devices. DR LYDIA GRAY: When you make
his environment more like nature intended. What we do though
is we stall them, and sometimes we
stall them with runs. And better, we stall them
with runs and paddocks. But it’s still a small,
flat, contained area. And they really do better when
they can walk at their own pace and walk up and down
and around and run a little bit because
somebody was chasing them. SARAH: Or they thought
they heard a treat bag. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yes. And I’m guessing maybe
her horse would do that. SARAH: It seems like maybe. DR LYDIA GRAY: The other one,
“Exercising the Easy Keeper” you should read this
one because there’s too many studies for us
to go over today. But they did find–
a key thing was you have to keep exercising. So daily is good. You don’t have to go
for hours and hours. A lot of these were 30 minutes
of walking and trotting. But when they quit
exercising– I think it was after
nine days– the horses went back to their
original level of fitness. So the important thing is
daily, short, intense– if your horse is ready
for it– but keep up. Don’t stop. SARAH: OK. I think one of the
things that I want to give Jessica
credit for is I think there are a lot of
horses– you say you get these questions a lot because
there are a lot of horses out there that are overweight. And Jessica’s doing
a great job being conscious of knowing that
it’s important for her to help her horse
lose that weight. What are some of the impacts
if people don’t take that as seriously and think, oh,
fat horses are cute horses, and they’re happier. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Well, when you’re
carrying too much weight, it’s hard to dissipate heat. So they’re going
to struggle more when it gets hot in the summers
or in Florida, California. They also are more
prone to laminitis because their hooves
aren’t increasing in size, but yet they’re carrying more
pounds in that square inch. And you can set yourself up also
for some actual conditions– not diseases so much–
but like Equine Metabolic Syndrome, which includes
Insulin Resistance. And that’s a key
factor in exercising. Exercise has been shown
to make your body more sensitive to the
effects of insulin. Your question’s a good
one because by exercising and by keeping the
weight off, you’re scientifically helping
your horse from the inside. And you’re seeing the
effects on the outside. SARAH: Right. So it’s not just about vanity
so your horse has a nice beach body, but it’s for his
long-term health and wellness and soundness. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Keeping your metabolism
working right and your musculoskeletal
system and just everything. It’s good. Oh! Can I say one more
thing about this? SARAH: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Small hole hay net. SARAH: Also the good
friend of this guy, the easy keeper, the
chubster if you will. DR LYDIA GRAY: And he
won’t hate you for it. They actually like having to
go get their hay from the bag because it simulates grazing. SARAH: Sure. Absolutely. OK. Well, there you go. Small hole hay
nets for everyone. DR LYDIA GRAY: Not me. SARAH: We don’t need that. We can control ourselves. We can convince
ourselves of that anyway. All right. Well, that’s it for
this month’s questions. They were fantastic. DR LYDIA GRAY: They
were hard I thought. SARAH: There were
some hard ones. You did have some help from
yourself and from Danvers. So that was fantastic. So we are accepting
your questions for April’s “Ask
the Vet” video now. And you can submit those
questions on our blog, by email to
[email protected] You can submit them on YouTube. Facebook, Instagram. Just use #askthevetvideo
so we make sure we see your
questions, and we can get them all collated for
the voting for next month. And then we’ll answer
the top five again. DR LYDIA GRAY: We’ll do it
again, and I’ll cheat again. SARAH: I think that’s
within the bounds. I think it’s allowed. So of course, if your question
gets answered in the video, you’ll get a SmartPak gift
card, which is pretty sweet. So congratulations to
everybody whose questions were selected this
month, and you’ll be getting your
gift cards shortly. And we look forward
to receiving all of the fantastic questions,
which will be accepted until Monday, March 14th. So you have plenty of time
to get those questions in for the April video. Don’t forget to subscribe
to our YouTube channel so that you never miss the next
“Ask the Vet” video or some of our funny videos, as well. DR LYDIA GRAY: This one, I
think we had some moments. SARAH: Yeah. I would say humorous. Maybe not funny. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yes. OK. SARAH: Yeah. OK. So that’s it for
us for this time. Thank you guys so
much for joining us, for sending your
questions, and for being passionate about supporting
healthy horses, because we are, too. DR LYDIA GRAY: We are, too. SARAH: Have a great ride.


  1. I wanted to get my horse off of sweet feed and was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of choices. How do you decide on a feed and what happens when the recommended amount is too much feed at once? How much is too much? How much should I be giving my horse per feeding if he gets fed twice per day?

  2. I would like to know about rain rot, prevention, how to prevent it and what to do if your horse gets it. #askthevet

  3. I own a 20 y/o Cleveland bay cross named Linus. I am going to college next spring and he will be coming with me. I do not know most of his background, his last owner got him when he was very emaciated but he had no other health issues with her. Right now he eats a Poulin senior feed but the barn we are moving to feeds a different grain but in the summer he will be coming back home and go back to the Poulin senior feed. Would it be bad for him to keep switching grains each season? Or should I try and keep him on the same grain? #askthevet

  4. Yay, my question made it! Thanks for answering. First thing, I couldn't find the blog you were talking about, where can I find it? My "chubster" is on 24/7 pasture turn out with a decent amount of grass and friends, as that's what we both prefer! We already have a small hole hay net as well. I'll definitely work on doing some consistent exercise with him. Thanks again for answering.

    And I do have another question. Just based on some things I heard in he video, seems like you said some good advantages to keeping horses in pasture 24/7. I think it'd be great to hear your ideas and opinions on the benefits and cons of pasturing a horse, and wether or not to do it.

    I personally believe it's much better for the horse to be a horse and live like their meant to, but I think it would be good to hear what a vet thinks on the topic!

  5. I would like to know as a follow up to the last question, how do you actually know if your horse is overweight? Specifically in the case of my horse, she is ridden six days a week (and has been consistently for the last three years) and so she is fit, but yet I hear from people (usually not anyone credible like a vet) that she is fat based on her ascetic appearance! #askthevet

  6. #askthevet I have a 9 year old mustang and he's starting to show a little hip and croup tail bone is there anything I can do? he is on grain to take Lung EQ because he does have heaves

  7. I have a 32 year old horse that I am having trouble keeping weight on him I am currently feeding him senior feed and supplements but it still is not working any suggestions #askthevetvideo

  8. #askthevet I would like to know if it is true that horses shouldn't be rinsed immediately after a hard workout or if rinsing them in cold water or hot water makes any difference.

  9. I'm soooo glad I found this channel. I'm going to uni to study equine coaching in September and these videos are a massive help. Thank you!

  10. #askthevet I own a "Delicate Flower" OTTB. Recently, in our last few farrier sessions my horse has become dead lame for 2-4 days. My farrier does a great job but accidentally had a hot nail two sessions ago, could this have resulted in my OTTB becoming more sensitive or prone to temporary lameness after shoes?

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