Lecture series highlights importance of veterinary medicine

  • Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, November 12, 2012 7:15 a.m.
Staff photo by Ben Baugh
Dr. Dee Whelchel discusses Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Cushing’s Disease at the lecture series at The Willcox.
Staff photo by Ben Baugh Dr. Dee Whelchel discusses Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Cushing’s Disease at the lecture series at The Willcox.

The Willcox hosted a lecture series Wednesday evening featuring three veterinarians who discussed a variety of topics in a forum that was informative and educational.

The guest lecturers were Dr. Dee Whelchel, Southern Equine Service, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, whose presentation addressed Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Equine Cushing’s Disease; Estrella Equine’s Dr. Sarah Thompson, who gave an in-depth presentation on the identification, preparation and avoidance of colic and Avoca Equine’s Dr. Keelin Redmond, who is certified in veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic, focused on the sacroiliac joint and its importance. Greystone Farms’ Sharer Dale served as the Master of Ceremonies.

The focus of Whelchel’s presentation was on two common health issues horse owners often have to address that are both linked to a pre-deterimental issue that is often career ending, and, in some cases, can be life ending, laminitis. The disease, often referred to as founder, is an inflammation of the sensitive laminae, an area between the hoof and the bone of the foot.

The diseases are separate entities, but there is overlap, and there is a predisposition for these horses who have EMS and Cushing’s Disease for developing laminitis, said Whelchel.

“We think there’s a link,” said Whelchel. “We think that link is insulin resistance, and having too high a blood insulin level circulating in the body. That may trigger laminitis epsiode instances in these two groups of horses.”

Equine Metabolic Syndrome usually effects horses between the ages of 5 and 15, and Pituitary Pars Intemedia Dysfunction or Cushing’s Disease is usually found in horses greater than 15 years of age.

Colic is the No. 1 killer of horses, and Estrella Equine’s Dr. Sarah Thompson’s case load usually increases at this time of year due in part to the change in the weather. Colic is defined as any abdominal pain that comes from any gastrointestinal organ, said Thompson.

The presentation did address the symptoms associated with a horse who may be experiencing a colic episode but also placed an emphasis on what a horse owner should do. The information the owner should provide the veterinarian with in the event they suspect the horse is suffering from colic, the veterinary evaluation, what medications are used and why to treat the case, the types of colic, and what steps can be taken to preclude an episode.

“Colic just doesn’t mean gastrointestinal pain,” said Thompson. “It also effects a number of other organs.”

Horses won’t progress to a more dire situation, if a veterinarian is able to come out and give the individual a rectal exam, a nasogastric intubation and the proper medications the first time someone notices the signs, she said.

The sacroiliac region is often misunderstood, said Avoca Equine’s Dr. Keelin Redmond during her presentation. The sacroiliac joint is the space between the sacrum and the pelvis.

“It’s high up and in the back, and you can’t see the effusion in it or feel the heat in it,” said Redmond.

The sacroiliac region is massively involved in the biomechanics of the area, said Redmond.

“It’s the spring that generates the kinetic energy that moves the horse 100 percent of the time,” said Redmond. “They can flex the pelvis at the lumbo sacral and sacroiliac joints, and they propel the rest of the body forward that way. They’re rear-wheel drive vehicles, and, in correctly and biomechanically functioning horses, all of the energy comes from the hind end, and they push the front of the horse along. Most of the flexion occurs at the lumbosacral and sacroiliac joints. That’s every step and every time.”

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