Equine wellness practices lead to less urgent care needs
Horses need annual preventative health screens for optimal health
By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Alpine Animal Hospital
Veterinarians see all kinds of equine emergencies, but it’s the stuff that can be prevented that often causes concern.
“I would like to help our clients prevent this kind of stress, not only for the horse’s health, but for the owner’s piece of mind and I’d like to help them avoid the cost,” said Chuck Maker, veterinarian at Alpine Animal Hospital in Carbondale.
People head to the doctor annually for preventative healthcare such as physical exams, teeth cleanings, flu shots and more, but horse owners sometimes skip routine care beyond annual vaccines, and can wind up in a preventable and costly vet emergency.
“In human medicine, if we take good care of ourselves, we’ll spend less time in the emergency room. Horses are no different than cats, dogs or people for that matter,” Maker said. “They get age- and- use-associated illnesses that can be better managed with annual medical care visits.”
Maker and his colleagues at Alpine Animal Hospital are reminding horse owners that this care can not only save them the stress of an urgent emergency, but it can extend their horses’ lives and keep them happier, too. A healthy horse is the goal.
Annual wellness care
“In the West” Maker said, I feel there is a philosophical spectrum as to managed health care for people and their horses.
To help support healthier horses, Alpine Animal Hospital created wellness packages — an adult and a geriatric Healthy Horse Plan — that offer about 11 percent to 17 percent cost savings over the course of the year. The plans include a comprehensive annual exam, dental and lameness assessment, and nutritional management that includes appropriate risk-based deworming and vaccinations. The plans also provide reduced rates for dental services and cost savings on after hour emergency visits if and when they do occur.
Most importantly, though, Maker said it allows the veterinarians to identify the things that are unique to each horse in an effort to create the most optimal health and wellness care for each horse.
“Horses that do get annual care far surpass the healthiness of horses that don’t,” Maker said. “I feel that if we empower our clients to understand the aspects of what wellness care is, their horses will be healthier and have fewer urgent care needs.”
Somewhat similar to an insurance plan, enrolled horses that need emergency care will also receive 10 percent off for those services should they occur.
Components of equine wellness
There are five components of wellness for horses: internal parasites/deworming, dental care, annual physical exam, nutrition and vaccinations.
While do-it-yourself vaccine and internal parasite care for horses is common in the West, Maker said many horse owners are not aware of the latest recommendations based on scientific advancements in these fields as well as changes that are necessary as their horses age.
“It’s like trying to make one diagnosis for every patient in the doctor’s office,” he said. “Every horse is different based on age, breed, sex and riding discipline. Identifying the things unique to your horse promotes better health.”
With the advancement in critical care for our beloved horses, emergency services can run into the thousands of dollars. After-hours urgent care is always more expensive, too.
“Better wellness means less urgent care,” Maker said. “By promoting managed care, horse owners can save money long-term.”