Veterinary Hospital

West coast

08 9393 3373

West Coast Veterinary Hospital provides general and specialist care for horses.

 

Surgery - Soft tissue, trauma, castrations, orthopaedics, gastrointestinal (including colics), laryngeal and sinus, arthroscopy, laparoscopy and laser.

Diagnostic imaging and pathology - digital radiography, abdominal and limb ultrasonography, endoscopy, ECG and in house laboratory. 

Reproduction - Chilled and frozen AI.

Lameness examinations - including diagnostic and treatment of angular limb deformities.

Shockwave therapy 

Bone marrow and stem cell therapy

Pre-purchase examinations

Foals checks and intensive management

Equine Ophthalmology:

It is always an alarming sight when discovering a horse with a sore eye. In most cases, with early intervention, ophthalmic (eye) cases can be managed successfully without major complications. However, in some instances, a horse with an eye problem is a veterinary emergency. Merely waiting 24 hours without medical intervention can result in loss of the eye. The crux of the matter is being able to differentiate the simple from the complex cases. Unless an owner is confident it is always best to seek medical intervention early.

Blocked tear duct: Excessive tear production and conjunctivitis are seen in all ages of horses. Blocked tear ducts can be managed effectively by 'flushing'. This is when a small tube is placed up the nasolacriminal duct (connection between the eye and nasal passage) and water is used to irrigate the canal. Some horses require regular flushing whilst others will clear after just one treatment. Occasionally this blockage of the tear duct is due to a low-grade chronic infection and the animal will require medication directly into the eye for several days. 

 

Cornea damage: After digital palpation to determine if there are any foreign bodies within the eye (e.g a grass seed) the corner is examined for damage to the cornea will stain bright green or orange. Very deep ulcers, down to the deepest layer of the cornea (descents membrane), will not stain. This condition is called a 'descemetocele'. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If this condition is eft untreated the globe (eyeball) may rupture and the eye may need to be removed. Medications with cortisone-based products should be used with cation in the equine eye. this is because, if an ulcer is present, healing may be severely impaired and secondary viral infections are even possible. An eye should always be stained with fluorescent prior to steroid based medications being used. A common complaint is that a horse will become very intolerant to receiving medications into the eye. Sub-palpebral lavage systems are used in such situations. Medications can be injected from a remote site. (e.g near the neck) and a direct line that is situated under an eyelid will dispense the medications into the eye.

Cancer of the third eyelid:

A condition that is frequently seen in draft breeds and grey/pale skinned horses is cancer of the third eyelid. The third eyelid, also known as nictitans membrane, is a structure that will flick from the inside to the outside aspect of the year in order to spread the tear film. The condition is usually caused by squamous cell carcinoma, a locally invasive tumor caused by sun exposure that can spread if not treated. this condition requires surgical removal of the majority of the third eyelid. Removal of this eyelid is tolerated extremely well and will almost always result in a cure of the condition and have no lasting negative effects.

 

Eye Removal:

In the worst-case scenario, when the eye cannot be saved or if radical surgical intervention is prohibited by economics, the eye must be removed. horses tolerate this procedure extremely well and in most cases it can be performed standing under local anesthetic. Some owners are alarmed at the final cosmetic result, however the horse never seems to be bothered. It is sometimes possible to insert prosthetic globes under the remaining skin in order to give the appearance of a normal eye. It may not be the most aesthetically appealing outcome but most athletic disciplines can still be performed successfully even if the horse has one eye (or vision in one). Some horses more easily spook and depth perception may be altered therefore caution is advised with competing in some sports. It should also be noted that with racing Thoroughbreds, the rules of racing state that the animal must have vision in both eyes.

Nasal and Sinus Issues:

It is always an alarming sight when discovering a horse with a sore eye. In most cases, with early intervention, ophthalmic (eye) cases can be managed successfully without major complications. However, in some instances, a horse with an eye problem is a veterinary emergency. Merely waiting 24 hours without medical intervention can result in loss of the eye. The crux of the matter is being able to differentiate the simple from the complex cases. Unless an owner is confident it is always best to seek medical intervention early.

Sinusitis:  Excessive tear production and conjunctivitis are seen in all ages of horses. Blocked tear ducts can be managed effectively by 'flushing'. This is when a small tube is placed up the nasolacriminal duct (connection between the eye and nasal passage) and water is used to irrigate the canal. Some horses require regular flushing whilst others will clear after just one treatment. Occasionally this blockage of the tear duct is due to a low-grade chronic infection and the animal will require medication directly into the eye for several days. 

 

Ethmoid hematoma: After digital palpation to determine if there are any foreign bodies within the eye (e.g a grass seed) the corner is examined for damage to the cornea will stain bright green or orange. Very deep ulcers, down to the deepest layer of the cornea (descents membrane), will not stain. This condition is called a 'descemetocele'. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If this condition is eft untreated the globe (eyeball) may rupture and the eye may need to be removed. Medications with cortisone-based products should be used with cation in the equine eye. this is because, if an ulcer is present, healing may be severely impaired and secondary viral infections are even possible. An eye should always be stained with fluorescent prior to steroid based medications being used. A common complaint is that a horse will become very intolerant to receiving medications into the eye. Sub-palpebral lavage systems are used in such situations. Medications can be injected from a remote site. (e.g near the neck) and a direct line that is situated under an eyelid will dispense the medications into the eye.

Wounds and fractures:

A condition that is frequently seen in draft breeds and grey/pale skinned horses is cancer of the third eyelid. The third eyelid, also known as nictitans membrane, is a structure that will flick from the inside to the outside aspect of the year in order to spread the tear film. The condition is usually caused by squamous cell carcinoma, a locally invasive tumor caused by sun exposure that can spread if not treated. this condition requires surgical removal of the majority of the third eyelid. Removal of this eyelid is tolerated extremely well and will almost always result in a cure of the condition and have no lasting negative effects.

 

Sinus cysts:

In the worst-case scenario, when the eye cannot be saved or if radical surgical intervention is prohibited by economics, the eye must be removed. horses tolerate this procedure extremely well and in most cases it can be performed standing under local anesthetic. Some owners are alarmed at the final cosmetic result, however the horse never seems to be bothered. It is sometimes possible to insert prosthetic globes under the remaining skin in order to give the appearance of a normal eye. It may not be the most aesthetically appealing outcome but most athletic disciplines can still be performed successfully even if the horse has one eye (or vision in one). Some horses more easily spook and depth perception may be altered therefore caution is advised with competing in some sports. It should also be noted that with racing Thoroughbreds, the rules of racing state that the animal must have vision in both eyes.

The Equine Mouth

It is always an alarming sight when discovering a horse with a sore eye. In most cases, with early intervention, ophthalmic (eye) cases can be managed successfully without major complications. However, in some instances, a horse with an eye problem is a veterinary emergency. Merely waiting 24 hours without medical intervention can result in loss of the eye. The crux of the matter is being able to differentiate the simple from the complex cases. Unless an owner is confident it is always best to seek medical intervention early.

Common teeth issues:  Excessive tear production and conjunctivitis are seen in all ages of horses. Blocked tear ducts can be managed effectively by 'flushing'. This is when a small tube is placed up the nasolacriminal duct (connection between the eye and nasal passage) and water is used to irrigate the canal. Some horses require regular flushing whilst others will clear after just one treatment. Occasionally this blockage of the tear duct is due to a low-grade chronic infection and the animal will require medication directly into the eye for several days. 

 

Choke: After digital palpation to determine if there are any foreign bodies within the eye (e.g a grass seed) the corner is examined for damage to the cornea will stain bright green or orange. Very deep ulcers, down to the deepest layer of the cornea (descents membrane), will not stain. This condition is called a 'descemetocele'. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If this condition is eft untreated the globe (eyeball) may rupture and the eye may need to be removed. Medications with cortisone-based products should be used with cation in the equine eye. this is because, if an ulcer is present, healing may be severely impaired and secondary viral infections are even possible. 

Jaw and dental fractures:

A condition that is frequently seen in draft breeds and grey/pale skinned horses is cancer of the third eyelid. The third eyelid, also known as nictitans membrane, is a structure that will flick from the inside to the outside aspect of the year in order to spread the tear film. The condition is usually caused by squamous cell carcinoma, a locally invasive tumor caused by sun exposure that can spread if not treated. this condition requires surgical removal of the majority of the third eyelid. Removal of this eyelid is tolerated extremely well and will almost always result in a cure of the condition and have no lasting negative effects.

 

Respiratory: 
It is always an alarming sight when discovering a horse with a sore eye. In most cases, with early intervention, ophthalmic (eye) cases can be managed successfully without major complications. However, in some instances, a horse with an eye problem is a veterinary emergency. Merely waiting 24 hours without medical intervention can result in loss of the eye. The crux of the matter is being able to differentiate the simple from the complex cases. Unless an owner is confident it is always best to seek medical intervention early.

Tie-back:  Excessive tear production and conjunctivitis are seen in all ages of horses. Blocked tear ducts can be managed effectively by 'flushing'. This is when a small tube is placed up the nasolacriminal duct (connection between the eye and nasal passage) and water is used to irrigate the canal. Some horses require regular flushing whilst others will clear after just one treatment. Occasionally this blockage of the tear duct is due to a low-grade chronic infection and the animal will require medication directly into the eye for several days. 

 

Tie-forward: After digital palpation to determine if there are any foreign bodies within the eye (e.g a grass seed) the corner is examined for damage to the cornea will stain bright green or orange. Very deep ulcers, down to the deepest layer of the cornea (descents membrane), will not stain. This condition is called a 'descemetocele'. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If this condition is eft untreated the globe (eyeball) may rupture and the eye may need to be removed. Medications with cortisone-based products should be used with cation in the equine eye. this is because, if an ulcer is present, healing may be severely impaired and secondary viral infections are even possible. 

HeavesA condition that is frequently seen in draft breeds and grey/pale skinned horses is cancer of the third eyelid. The third eyelid, also known as nictitans membrane, is a structure that will flick from the inside to the outside aspect of the year in order to spread the tear film. The condition is usually caused by squamous cell carcinoma, a locally invasive tumor caused by sun exposure that can spread if not treated. this condition requires surgical removal of the majority of the third eyelid. Removal of this eyelid is tolerated extremely well and will almost always result in a cure of the condition and have no lasting negative effects.

Infectious respiratory disease:

Excerise enduced pulmonary hermitage 

 

Ears: 
It is always an alarming sight when discovering a horse with a sore eye. In most cases, with early intervention, ophthalmic (eye) cases can be managed successfully without major complications. However, in some instances, a horse with an eye problem is a veterinary emergency. Merely waiting 24 hours without medical intervention can result in loss of the eye. The crux of the matter is being able to differentiate the simple from the complex cases. Unless an owner is confident it is always best to seek medical intervention early.

Cyst:  Excessive tear production and conjunctivitis are seen in all ages of horses. Blocked tear ducts can be managed effectively by 'flushing'. This is when a small tube is placed up the nasolacriminal duct (connection between the eye and nasal passage) and water is used to irrigate the canal. Some horses require regular flushing whilst others will clear after just one treatment. Occasionally this blockage of the tear duct is due to a low-grade chronic infection and the animal will require medication directly into the eye for several days. 

 

Key hole Surgery: 

Laparoscopy:  Laparoscopy is when a camera is placed into the abdomen of the horse - which has been distended with carbon dioxide - to visualise the internal organs. The laparoscopy is attached to a video camera which displays the image on a monitor screen. The entire procedure is done under sedation and local anaesthetic. Only small, 1-2cm incisions are required in most circumstances. Laparoscopic procedures in horses are less invasive and are associated with less postoperative pain and inflammation. One of the latest advancements with 'key hole' surgery in the equine field is the use of laparoscopy to treat barren or sub-fertile mares. Debris within, or blocked oviducts, (the pipe that allows the egg to travel from the ovary to the uterus) are responsible for many failed pregnancies. Problem with the oviducts are usually a diagnosis reached after all other possible causes of infertility have been excluded. The application of PGE2  gel onto the surface of the oviducts is the treatment of choice for oviduct blockages. This medication will help the oviducts clear debris or blockages. The laparoscopy is done with the horse is standing in stocks, via laparoscopy. Many recent studies have shown that blocked oviducts are responsible for failed pregnancies of barren mares. Success rates (pregnancies) can be up to 90% of horses following application onto PGE2 gels on oviducts. Many of these horses treated are in their late teens and may have been barren for several years. Mares can be inseminated during the same cycle as the procedure and, due to the procedure being 'key hole', they recover within days. Mares that obtain a pregnancy following the procedure are excellent candidates for the same treatment the following year.

 

Laser Surgery:  Lasers have made their way into the veterinary field. From sarcoids to upper respiratory tract surgery - they have many uses. The removal of vocal cords, ventricles and treatment of soft palate problems are all possible. With the aid of local anaesthetic and sedation the laser fibre can be passed up an endoscope portal, which has been placed into the upper respiratory tract via the horse's nasal passage. The area of concern is then grasped with the aid of long forceps and the laser can be aimed to cut the problematic tissue. The surgical field is visualised on a monitor next to the standing animal. 

Dental Procedures: The extraction of upper cheek teeth can be a complicated ordeal at the best of times. Many horses require their teeth surgically removed and or repelled from the sinuses. This can be very traumatic and complications often occur. A new technique is now available that is minimally invasive transbuccal approach, which allows extraction of upper cheek teeth. This is ideal for teeth that cannot be removed easily with molar extractors via an oral approach (loose teeth). A small incision (1cm) is made into the cheek and a hole is drilled into the tooth under endoscopic visualisation. An anchor is then screwed into the tooth which is then removed via repulsion. Owners should consider this if upper cheek teeth require removal.

Tenoscopic Surgery: The most commonly accessed tendon sheath is the digital flexor tendon sheath. This runs down the back of the fetlock to the pastern in all four limbs. It contains the flexor tendons, annular ligaments and other important soft tissue structures. Externally these swellings appear as ' windgalls; which are rarely a problem. However, in some instances (lameness, infection or severe swelling) they require surgical treatment. A camera is placed into the sheath after it has been distended with sterile fluid. Small incisions then allow a camera to be placed into the sheath via small 1cm portals. this 'key hole' surgery technique excellent visualisation of all the structures within the sheath and allows accurate treatment. Horses recover quickly and only need a few weeks box rest. 

Arthoscopy Surgery: The joints that can be accessed via arthroscopy include; coffin, pastern, fetlock, carpal, elbow, shoulder, hock, stifle, hip, mandibular and even articular facet joints within the neck. Arthroscopy is when a small camera is placed into a joint and 'key hole' surgery us performed to treat problem joints. Previously, a large incision into the joints would have been required, which led to long healing times and permanent lameness. Nowadays with the use of arthroscopic cameras the prognosis for many conditions is excellent. Conditions that are commonly treated with arthroscopy include the removal of bone fragments e.g OCD fragments) or treatment of damaged soft tissue structures within joints (cartilage, ligaments and inflamed synovium). Arthroscopic surgery can now be performed standing in some circumstances. 

 

Gastric Ulcers: 
Ulcers in horses can cause discomfort, poor performance, loss of appetite, failure to thrive, a poor coat and even colic or internal bleeding. Although it is believed that stress, exercise, poor intermittent access to feed and confinement can factor EGUS in horses; there is not one single cause. These can all lead to the production of excessive levels of gastric acid which then erodes the wall of the stomach to cause ulcers.  

Ulcers:  It's what you can't see. The signs of ulcers are often hard to detect as they happen inside to stomach and can be confused with other conditions. Ulcers are formed when the mucosal lining of the stomach is eroded. The best way to see if your horse has ulcers is to perform a gastroscope. This allows your veterinarian to see inside the horses stomach and determine the grade of ulcers and then recommend the best treatment for your horse.

         

Horse’s are likely to stress when either travelling to or once at a competition. Here are 10 tips to help relieve stress in your horse when travelling.

 

If you are taking your horse on a long trip, the level and severity of the stress will be higher and may have serious consequences. Stress lowers a horse’s resistance to disease, and those stressed by transport are vulnerable to gastric ulcers, pneumonia, diarrhoea, colic or laminitis. Transport stress the sum of adverse effects on the horse during transportation. There are a lot of contributing factors – discomfort in a particular trailer, noise, road conditions, confinement. Also footing and balance issues, changes in feeding and watering, temperature and humidity. Separation from herd mates, new environments, or interactions with unfamiliar horses can impact stress levels. Being aware of the causes means you can take steps to minimise them. That way you can reduce the impact of transport stress and arrive at your destination with a happier, healthier horse.

Take a Break: Every four hours, give your horse a chance to urinate, and walk around a bit. Comfort breaks take a bit of pre-planning, but the reduction in fatigue and stress to your horse is well worth the effort.

Horse Hydration: It's easy for horses to become dehydrated during transportation. Offer them water periodically. Adding an electrolyte will help rehydration and give them energy for the journey.

Feed Well: Offering travelling horses their regular feed helps them stay calm, retain water in their gut, and reduces the risk of gastric ulcers and colic.

Lung Health: Pathogens and dust from hay and dried manure can quickly enter a horse's respiratory system. Wetting hay can help, and always make sure the trailer is cleaned thoroughly before any trip. If there is a history of inflammatory airway disease, consider therapy before travelling.

Let the Air in There: Proper ventilation keeps your horse cooler and less susceptible to potentially toxic airborne particles in the trailer.

Head Down: Allowing them the ability to lower their heads below their shoulders means horses are less likely to suffer respiratory stress. It's how they naturally carry their heads, allowing them to breathe comfortably.

Keep in Mind Who's Behind: Remember, a slow and steady journey is not only safer, but it's also much less stressful for the horse.

Learn to Load: Loading is often the most stressful part of the trailering experience for horses. It's a good idea for you to practice loading your horse several times a year, so you're both comfortable with the procedure.

Monitor Vital Signs: Learn how to measure your horse's vital signs during travel. If your horse does get sick or shows signs of pain during the trip, you'll be able to give the vet the information they need.

Be Prepared: Always carry an emergency first aid kit, including an extra supply of your horse’s medications. Learn how to recognise the signs of transport stress such as dehydration, ulcers and colic. And carry extra feed supplies. You never know, your trip may take longer than planned.

 

Lameness Examination: 
Being able to tell if a horse is lame and determining where the problem originates can be difficult at times for even the experienced horse person. Not all lamenesses appear as a horse ‘limping’, some may just be a bobbing of the head, a change in the way the horse carries itself overall, or just a change in attitude. Many riders can ‘feel’ something is just not right with their horse, often before there is visually a noticeable difference in movement, and early intervention by a veterinarian can often prevent further damage.
To be able to identify and understand lameness in horses, which can involve virtually any part of the body and can originate in bone or soft tissue, riders and owners must know how to distinguish between normal and altered movement. Lameness is defined simply as an abnormality in a horse’s movement caused by pain or reduced range of motion (see image 1) and the term covers a wide range of ailments. A horse that is lame is often referred to as being unsound.
The most common health problem seen in the equine athlete; as a general rule 75% of lameness issues are seen in the forelimb whilst the remainder are hind limb issues. Of the lameness problems seen in the forelimb 95% of these originate from below the knee or hock. Some horse owners think of lameness only as a problem of the feet or legs and never look further than these areas, however, the most commonly misdiagnosed lameness issues in horse are suspected shoulder and hip lamenesses. It is always a wise idea to start by examining the hoof initially and then looking for other explanations. 

Locating the source of lameness and then developing a plan to manage it are high priorities and these procedures will generally involve the veterinarian or farrier, or often both.

How to determine if a horse is lame: A lame horse is in pain. As an owner it is your responsibility to be able to tell if the horse is lame and then seek appropriate treatment. When veterinarians are assessing lameness, horses are commonly graded from 0-5 based on the level of the lameness. This scale indicates the severity of the lameness. This 0-5 scale had originated from the AAEP (American association of Equine Practitioners) system and is as follows:
Lameness not perceptible under any circumstances.
Lameness is difficult to observe and is not consistently apparent, regardless of circumstances. 
Lameness is difficult to observe at a walk or when trotting in a straight line, but consistently apparent under certain circumstances (e.g., weight carrying, circling, inclines, hard surfaces, etc.)
Lameness is consistently observable at a trot under all circumstances
Lameness is obvious at a walk
Lameness produces minimal weight bearing in motion and/or at rest or a complete inability to move.
Terms such as ‘acute’