Horse Health

A Passion for Performance

January 27, 2011

Stay on top of the most current products available for the health of your performance horse.

By AQHA Corporate Partner Merial

The stress of training and showing puts the performance horse at risk for joint pain and stomach ulcers. Health management is key to performance longevity. Photo courtesy of Waltenberry.

Good veterinarians must focus on providing the best and most current care for their patients.

For Dr. Wade Shoemaker at Countryside Large Animal Veterinary Service in Greeley, Colorado, staying abreast of the latest products, as well as cutting-edge practices and technology, are some of the ways he knows he’s providing the best care for his patients and their horses.

“Our practice is almost 90 percent equine now, with lameness and performance-horse medicine comprising a significant portion of that business,” says Dr. Shoemaker. “For me, the lameness aspect of our practice is what really makes my heart beat. It’s a puzzle that I enjoy trying to solve.

“And given that lameness, often associated with equine osteoarthritis (OA), can result in poor performance or even be career ending, it’s vital that I am prepared to provide the best medical care possible to my patients.”

Osteochondritis Dissecans causes more than just normal “growth pains” in young horses. This condition actually occurs when the bone and cartilage in the joints of a young horse form incorrectly, causing the cartilage at the end of the bone to separate. Read more about it in AQHA’s FREE Young Horse Joint Health report.

With so much at stake for his clients, Dr. Shoemaker maintains a strong commitment to being an innovative practitioner. Trying products is key to being able to provide clients with the latest health care information and options. So when he was asked to participate in research for Equioxx (firocoxib), the first oral and injectable nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) approved for horses in 17 years, he seized the opportunity to work with a product that would offer his clients another option for pain management associated with equine osteoarthritis.

“Equioxx provides 24 hours of prescription OA pain relief (joint pain and inflammation associated with equine osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease)  in just one daily dose, which is a benefit for our clients and our practice,” says Dr. Shoemaker. He adds that being able to use the product in two forms – as an injection or oral paste – means added flexibility, as well as the ability to better treat the individual needs of his patients.

Equioxx oral paste can be approved for up to 14 consecutive days; the Equioxx injection should not be used for more than five days.

Another benefit for horse owners is that Equioxx can be administered for up to 14 days* when competing in AQHA and United States Equestrian Federation events when given at the recommended dose at least 12 hours prior to competing. Traditional NSAIDs are only approved for a maximum of five days in these events. (*Equioxx Injection should not be used for more than five of those 14 days.)

Roll It!

Dr. Tom Lenz gives advice on how to prevent and/or treat tendonitis.

In addition to equine osteoarthritis, Dr. Shoemaker recognizes the considerable impact equine gastric ulcers can have on performance and counsels his clients about the importance of prevention and treatment using Ulcergard (omeprazole) and Gastrogard (omeprazole). These are the only products approved by the FDA for the prevention and treatment of ulcers, respectively.

“Ulcergard and Gastrogard have become significant and vital tools in our practice, as well as for my own horses,” says Dr. Shoemaker. “We use Ulcergard on most of our hospitalized patients and as an ulcer preventive for horses that are stressed or competing.”

Preventing ulcers during stressful situations helps Dr. Shoemaker head off veterinary problems, but it also positions his clinic as a leader in medicine – a good business tactic. Additionally, Dr. Shoemaker can help his clients save money by simply using Gastrogard as a presumptive diagnosis for equine gastric ulcers.

“We use Gastrogard as a diagnostic therapy,” says Dr. Shoemaker. “If we’re dealing with a potential ulcer case, I can better meet the needs of my clients – saving them time and money – by starting horses on Gastrogard.

“For example, if one of my clients calls and has a horse exhibiting signs of an ulcer, instead of taking the horse off feed and spending the money to trailer the horse to my hospital and scope it, I can start the horse on Gastrogard and wait to see if the horse’s condition improves. Within a few days, we have not only started treatment, but we have reached a diagnosis as a result of therapy.”

If left untreated, OCD can end a horse’s athletic career. Don’t let your performance’s horse’s career end before it has begun – download the FREE Young Horse Joint Health report. It will help you understand OCD so you can spot it before it becomes an issue.

Even with top-notch care and regular veterinary visits, many horse owners don’t like to think that stomach ulcers may develop in their horses. According to Dr. Hoyt Cheramie, manager of Merial’s Veterinary Services, equine stomach ulcers can be a common problem for any horse.

“Many horse owners think stomach ulcers only affect racehorses, but research has shown that 63 percent of non-competing horses and 51 percent of foals have stomach ulcers,too,” says Dr. Cheramie. “What’s more, events that many horse owners consider to be routine, including traveling, training, competition and stall confinement, can be stressful enough to lead to the development of stomach ulcers – sometimes in as little as five days.”

At the end of the day, Dr. Shoemaker says it’s all about providing the best care for the horse and the best products for the clients.

“I have a lot of clients who have no problem spending the dollar when they need to, but they demand we produce results,” says Dr. Shoemaker. “You have to make their horses better to keep them successful – and they want the biggest bang for their buck.”

Important Safety Information for Equioxx:
As with any prescription medication, prior to use, a veterinarian should perform a physical examination and review the horse’s medical history. A veterinarian should advise horse owners to observe for signs of potential drug toxicity. As a class, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be associated with gastrointestinal, hepatic and renal toxicity. Use with other NSAIDs, corticosteroids or nephrotoxic medication should be avoided. Equioxx has not been tested in horses less than 1 year of age or in breeding horses, or pregnant or lactating mares. For additional information please refer to the prescribing information or visit www.equioxx.com.

Important Safety Information for Gastrogard and Ulcergard:
CAUTION:  The safety of Gastrogard (omeprazole) in pregnant or lactating mares has not been determined.

Ulcergard (omeprazole) can be used in horses that weigh at least 600 pounds. Safety in pregnant mares has not been determined.

http://www.aqha.com/en/About/Content-Pages/About-the-Association/Partners/Merial.aspx

AQHA’s FREE Young Horse Joint Health report explains different factors that can cause OCD, including genetic predisposition, fast growth and body size, nutritional imbalances, or mechanical stress or trauma. Download this report to learn about studies pin-pointing these different causes.