b'gastrointestinal tracts relatively fragile microflora.Short-lived changes might be normal, resulting from stressful events such as separation from other horses or trans-port. But changes that last hours or days could represent parasite burdens, reactions to antibiotics, or other gastroin-testinal issues. In severe episodes horses bodies might absorb bacterial byproducts in the intestines and develop a serious condition called endotoxemia, which often requires management using intra-venous fluids and anti-inflammatories, Davis says. 10 A gut feeling somethings wrongSometimes your intuition is the earliest indication of illness. You know your horse, and something is telling you hes feeling off. Even if the subtle changes are dif-ficult to describe, our sources say these PAULA DA SILVAobservations are important to report to veterinarians. Thats because, for all their scientific knowledge, they dont usually know your horse as well as you do. Sometimes its simply your intuition that tells you your horse is feeling off.If youre worried, Im worried, Bev-evino says. Horses are tough and tend toof discomfort and inflammation, says Da- feces, tracheal wash, nasal dischargeto mask the severity of their disease, but avis. A general blood test can reveal abnor- see if the DNA for the agent is present lot of times they cant fool a really in-tunemal blood parameters that might pointand target treatment, she says. handler.to the affected body system. A urinalysisTo check for inflammation, your vet-might provide critical information abouterinarian might test for protein markers Testing and Treatment kidney function and metabolism.of acute inflammation, such as serum Subtle signs of illness dont usuallyamyloid A (SAA). We might do the test point to specific diseases. Your horseone day and then repeat it in a day or might be signaling that he has any of aHorses are tough andtwo, Bevevino says. That way, we can number of conditions ranging from livertend to mask the severi- determine if inflammation is a compo-disease to infection, pneumonia to colic,nent of the disease and, if present, is it because so many of these cause similarty of their disease, but aimproving, staying the same, or worsen-early signs. Instead of waiting for morelot of times they canting? Its something we have in our arsenal obvious issues, call your veterinarian.to not only evaluate but monitor response If the condition seems to be progress- fool a really in-tuneor lack of response to treatment. ing slowly, it may be okay to schedule anhandler. Specific treatment depends on what appointment for in a few days time, saysdiagnostic testing reveals, our sources say. Bevevino. But if the signs seem acuteDR. KARI BEVEVINO But in the meantime, most horses benefit (sudden in onset) or progress rapidly,from supportive care such as intravenous your vet should probably come immedi- Ultrasound allows the veterinarianfluids, anti-inflammatories, and stabling ately, because even early signs can meanto check vital organs such as the lungsin a calm, comfortable environment. serious issues and, of course, early treat- and liver, says Bevevino. If the horse is ment is always preferred. hospitalized, high-quality radiographyTake-Home MessageYour vet might not know what he orcan allow the vet to check for issues suchRecognizing illness in its earliest she is treating initially, but a thoroughas gastrointestinal and pulmonary (lung)phases can lead to targeted treatment that examination will help: palpating differentdiseases.can hasten healing and increase a horses body parts, including the limbs, listeningIf your veterinarian suspects anchances of recovery. By learning to pick to heart, lung, and bowel sounds, check- infectious cause, he or she might run aup on the earliest signs of disease, han-ing mucous membranes, and assessingpolymerase chain reaction (PCR) test ondlers can get their horses the intervention hydration status, always looking for signsthe appropriate samplewhether blood,they need faster. hTheHorse.com | The HorseAugust 201919'