How to Manage a Post-Flood Horse


Decontaminate –

  1. Scrub above the water line with gentle soap (Simple Green). Consider where the contaminated water is going. The decontamination process may need to be repeated again the next day
  2. Pick out and clean the feet
  3. Lavage/clean the eyes

Exam –  Contact a veterinarian to help, but collecting the following information is helpful to determine what is an emergency and what can be scheduled as an appointment

  1. Eye exam
    1. STAIN ________________________________________________
  2. Physical Exam
    1. T-
    2. P-
    3. R-
    4. GI- ___________________________________________________
    5. Other
  3. Microchip _______________________________________

The veterinarian will likely do some or all of the following depending on the case.

  1. Ultrasound the chest for pleural fluid or early pneumonia
  2. Collect blood for a Coggins test
  3. Administer a tetanus containing vaccine
  4. Potentially administer a pythium vaccine. This is an experimental vaccine and supplies may not be available
  5. Prescribe antibiotics, antifungals, and pain medication

Daily management will depend on the severity of the case. Many will include

  1. Antibiotics given at appropriate doses
  2. Anti-inflammatories
  3. Oral anti-fungals
  4. Monitor appetite, lameness, and fecal output
  5. Topical shampoo (MiconaHex + Triz) that has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
  6. Decontaminate again the second day, but frequent bathing is not necessary
  7. Stain the eyes
  8. No bandage as a rule of thumb
  9. Expect skin to slough. Watch for laminitis and pneumonia.

Wound Care if needed.

  1. Clean with dilute iodine
  2. Topical SSD
  3. +/- bandage although consider topical honey or the silver impregnated socks. The more bandaging you do the more debridement occurs. This is a chemical burn, but it usually is not full thickness. Large or deep wounds need to be seen by a vet to close and/or drain.

Diet –

  1. Limit grain the first few days, but provide forage. This is important as the excess sugar and calories create a metabolic problem that can make starved skinny horses unable to stand.
  2. Make sure the staff understands that this is important. The volunteers overfeeding horses is a frequent issue.
  3. After several days of forage, slowly introducing a high fiber pellet can be done.

Submitted by Dr. Ben Buchanan, Brazos Valley Equine Hospital, Navasota

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