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Equine Anemia

Anemia is a condition that occurs when there is a decrease in the amount of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the horse’s blood. There are a number of symptoms such as weakness, pale skin and fatigue. The treatment of anemia in horses usually involves providing the animal with supplements of nutrients it is lacking, such as iron. Vitamins like Vitamin C, which help in the uptake of iron, and Vitamin B12, are also provided. Meeting the animals’ appropriate nutritional requirements in the first place will help prevent anemia.

Equine infectious anemia is a very contagious illness commonly called “swamp fever.” In order to diagnose this, an EIA blood test is done which checks for antibodies. If the test is positive you will have to isolate the horse from the others in order to prevent it from spreading. Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccine available to treat this illness. A horsefly, which is a large insect with a very painful bite, is responsible for spreading this. The horse uses its tail, swishing it from side to side to scare off the fly. A fly that has been feeding on an infected horse will sooner or later move on to another horse to continue scavenging. In the process it also passes on the virus that will cause an EIA infection in the other horse. You may recognize and detect the infection in your horse through the following symptoms:

  • During the first phase of the disease the horse would most likely be feverish and uncoordinated for a number of days. It is very contagious during this phase.
  • During the second phase you will notice sudden weight loss, increased fever, and overall weakness. It is at this stage that a veterinarian would be able to make a diagnosis of anemia. Most pregnant mares most likely abort their foals.
  • In the final stage you will observe the horse return to normalcy, but it will be carrier of the disease for the rest of its lifespan. Horses that have suffered the infection are also likely to be a lot more vulnerable to illness as well as stress related conditions.
Unfortunately, most horses die during the first two phases. This condition is known to be quite prevalent on breeding farms and on race tracks, resulting in the loss of many animals. The illness very contagious which is why new horses must be quarantined and a blood checking for antibodies should be conducted, after which it can be introduced to your other horses, provided the results are negative.
 
  Submitted on March 23, 2010  
 
 
 
 
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