Spring 2020 Vet Exam

Last week, I drove Bear and Shiloh down to the vet’s office for their annual Spring exams. I usually schedule their Spring exams earlier in the year, but the pandemic changed my plans on both the timing of the exams and how they were performed.

This year is the first time that I remember not being present during the actual exams. The vet office is still keeping clients out of all their buildings to protect their staff. So after an easy loading experience at home and an uneventful drive into town, I unloaded the horses at the vet’s barn and handed them off to the very capable staff.

Fortunately, the morning rain had passed so I opened up my folding chair and sat outside the barn under the awning to pass the time. I watched folks bring their dogs and cats to the office for exams. Those folks also handed their pets off to staff members and remained outside the vet office while their pets were examined.

I was told that Bear’s teeth exam showed no current need for a float so he got his vaccines and had his blood drawn for his coggins and ACTH tests. The ACTH test is helpful in monitoring his PPID and EMS. If his ACTH and glucose numbers are inching up, I will need to make further diet/medication adjustments to hopefully keep him from having another laminitic episode, abscesses, etc . . .

Shiloh’s mouth exam revealed some sharp tooth points. So during Shiloh’s dental float, the vet also noticed some areas of gum recession around a few upper incisors. The vet suggested that Shiloh may need eventually to have those affected teeth removed as the gum recession can indicate potential problems for the root of the tooth. He says horses adapt to being toothless quite well once healed. I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Coincidentally, a few days before our vet visit, I snapped a photo of Shiloh doing a flehmen response after I had applied a cooling product to his back post-ride. The angle of the photo actually shows one of the areas of recession above the middle tooth. Can you see it? The area is dimpled and irregular, not plump and full like a healthy gum line apparently.

Since Shiloh was already under sedation from his dental float, he also had a wart removed. For those of you who have horses with pink skin underneath their white hair, you may already know that they are more prone to skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma). Bear, who also has substantial swaths of pink skin, previously had a small lesion removed from under his tail that turned out to be skin cancer so I am familiar with the drill. The vet removed Shiloh’s wart (located on his hindquarters near the upper part of his tail) and had sent it off for analysis so we shall see if it turns out to be skin cancer. If so, I assume the vet will recommend further treatment after the stitches come out. For Bear, that was cryotherapy where the affected area of skin was treated with a stream of super-duper cold air to kill the cancer cells. At least in Bear’s case, it was a straightforward diagnosis and treatment with no lasting ill-effects. Hopefully Shiloh will have the same experience.

We had another easy loading, driving and unloading experience on the trip home. So many stars have to align properly to transport horses safely and successfully that I am always very appreciative to have a positive experience. Now we just have to await all the various test results and get Shiloh’s stitches removed next week!