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An Explainer - “In sport horses, we see a lot of injuries,” says Dr. Sarah Malenchak, who owns Westhills Equine Veterinary Services in Stony Plain, Alberta. “But we want the horses feeling as good as possible as soon as possible so they can go back into work. Plus, we want them to heal properly, so they don’t reinjure themselves,” she says.

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Take an inside look into the latest the scientific studies at the University of Saskatchewan's veterinary college, with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine's semi-annual newsletter: Horse Health Lines.

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One of the most common conditions affecting soundness and performance lifespan of horses is osteoarthritis (OA), with some reports suggesting 60 percent of lameness issues in horses is attributable to OA(1). OA is known across animal and human populations to cause stiff and creaky joint movement. It can make getting up in the morning difficult or slow you down the day after a long run.

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Soft tissue and skeletal injuries are of significant concern in sport horses. Fortunately, veterinary knowledge and technology are rapidly advancing to quickly and accurately diagnose and treat such issues. Medical imaging technologies have become powerful diagnostic tools. Each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses, but the modalities are often successfully used in combination with one another to accurately facilitate diagnosis and direct appropriate treatment.

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From Flies to Fomites - Controlling infectious diseases relies on understanding how they spread. Infectious organisms are transmitted to horses through the following routes: Aerosols - Respiratory droplets from sick horses become airborne through coughing, snorting, or sneezing.

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Salmonellosis is a disease associated with the bacteria Salmonella enterica that causes diarrhea in horses and humans. It is usually seen sporadically but may become an epidemic depending on the virulence of the organism, level of exposure, and host factors.

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Practicing good biosecurity at home and while traveling is essential for your horse’s health and safety, and is an important part of industry-wide disease control measures. We collaborated with Dr. K. Gary Magdesian, infectious disease control officer and faculty member in the Equine Internal Medicine Service at the UC Davis veterinary hospital, to present a list of important things to remember when it comes to equine biosecurity.

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The thinking on how we use antibiotics is changing in the world of medicine, especially as we learn more about their impact on the inhabitants of the gut. Ontario Veterinary College researcher Dr. Diego Gomez took part in a collaborative study with researchers across North America to study the effects of intravenous antimicrobials on the equine gut.

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Obesity has a significant impact on the structural changes in cardiovascular tissue in horses, a recent study has found. Obesity is known to have significant adverse effects on horse health with laminitis an obvious example, but it can also contribute to other problems such as those affecting soundness or fertility.

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Across Canada, non-veterinarians offer a potpourri of services, including massage, chiropractic, farrier work, homeopathy, and more. But these non-veterinarian service providers may be practicing veterinary medicine illegally under provincial veterinarian acts. Also, few regulatory organizations oversee non-veterinarian practitioner training, certify expertise, or offer recourse if horses suffer, and provincial veterinary organizations only pursue non-veterinarian service providers when horse owners complain.

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