Equine Specialty Services
Tufts Veterinary Field Service offers a variety of on-farm services to diagnose and care for the medical conditions of a horse. Most initial workups can be performed on-farm pertaining to colic; metabolic and endocrine issues; and respiratory or neurologic conditions. Veterinarians are also able to conduct eye exams using a Tonopen to check intraocular pressure; place IV catheters; treat tickborne diseases like Lyme and Equine Anaplasmosis, and handle respiratory viruses, cancer and toxicity issues.
In instances where advanced care is needed, Tufts Veterinary Field Service is able to offer many haul-in services at its Woodstock, CT location for specialized testing, including:
- Chemistry bloodwork to determine kidney and liver function
- Serum Amyloid A, a biomarker protein produced in the liver in the face of inflammation caused by infection
- Packed Cell Volume (PCV) Total Solids (total solids) to measure the percentage of red blood cells (RBC) to the total blood volume to measure the level of anemia or dehydration of the horse
There are also circumstances when a horse requires care at a hospital, such as for a colic surgery or a Caesarean section. Tufts Veterinary Field Service enjoys a collaborative relationship with the emergency hospital at the esteemed Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, MA. Working as one team, Tufts Veterinary Field Service veterinarians are able to communicate closely with respected colleagues at Cummings School, offering a greater benefit to the horse and its owner.
At Tufts Veterinary Field Service, Dr. Lauren Bookbinder is Board Certified as a Large Animal Diplomate by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). This affords horse owners the increased confidence of an equine veterinarian who has completed additional years of rigorous training, significant requirements and published clinical research.
While some routine procedures, like castrations, can generally be performed by primary care veterinarians, a board-certified surgeon is recommended for:
- advanced procedures (arthroscopy, laparoscopy, respiratory tract surgery, abdominal surgery)
- procedures requiring specialized equipment (laser surgery, fracture fixation, minimally invasive surgery)
- procedures requiring intensive monitoring or carrying more risk to the life of the patient (colic surgery, complex lacerations, joint infections, etc.)
- complex lameness examinations (complicated cases, cases that require advanced diagnostic imaging techniques or when a surgical treatment might be indicated)
Tufts Veterinary Field Service is able to perform many on-farm surgical procedures. Routine castrations, eyelid lacerations, hernia repairs, enucleations and dental extractions are all common surgeries to have completed in the field.
Owners can call the office at Tufts Veterinary Field Service and give the health history of their animal, information about the medical situation, and then schedule a veterinarian to come to the evaluate of the horse. While the majority of on-farm surgeries can be done the same day as the evaluation, castrations require the horse fasting the night before the surgery.
More delicate surgeries and those involving extensive wound repair require haul-in of the animals to Tufts Veterinary Field Service location in Woodstock, CT. The haul-in facility has a set of stocks that allow procedures to be done more safely while the horse is standing and offers a cleaner, more controlled environment.
From soundness examinations and caslicks (the procedure of surgically closing the upper part of the vulva in an effort to treat the negative effect that air can have on a mare's reproductive system) to ultrasound and artificial insemination, Tufts Veterinary Field Service offers many equine reproduction services.
Unlike artificial insemination in bovine, artificial insemination of a mare is a relatively uncomplicated process, performed on-farm and carried out completely vaginally with the use of fresh, chilled semen. Modern breeding management and technologies can increase the rate of conception, a healthy pregnancy and successful foaling.
Tufts Veterinary Field Service uses on-farm ultrasound imaging to:
- ensure the horse can become pregnant (soundness exam)
- follow cycle and determine timing of ovulation and get the mare pregnant
- confirm pregnancy
- maintain prenatal mare care throughout pregnancy (vaccines, deworming)
- provide foal care after birth
Mares require at least two initial ultrasounds once they have been inseminated to confirm pregnancy, followed by vaccinations at five, seven, nine and 10 months of pregnancy. Deworming also occurs prior to foaling.
Tufts Veterinary Field Service provides on-call service for monitoring concerns of dystocia, prolonged or difficult births. Dystocia in mares is due to abnormal presentation or posture, where a compromised fetus often is not properly positioned in the pelvic canal.
Postnatal wellness examinations are typically done on the mare & foal within 24 hours of giving birth to check that:
- the placenta is intact
- the foal is healthy and has had enough milk
- no delivery problems exist
- the foal’s immunoglobin (IgG) levels are high enough to confirm that enough antibodies are being delivered through the mare’s colostrum
Failure of passive transfer (FPT) of antibodies occurs in 10-20% of newborn foals. A foal greater than 24 hours of age is considered to have FPT if IgG levels are less than 400 milligrams per deciliter. At that point, the veterinarian may then decide to perform a plasma transfusion on-farm and provide any additional care that may be required to provide protection to the foal against bacterial infections.
Reproductive complications, such as a Caesarean section, are usually referred to the emergency hospital at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, MA. Tufts Veterinary Field Service enjoys a highly-collaborative relationship with its esteemed colleagues at Cummings School, closely communicating as one team to safeguard the wellness of each horse.
The odds are stacked so unevenly against a mare having twins that Tufts Veterinary Field Service recommends and performs twin reduction, the removal of one of the twin embryos early in pregnancy to maximize the chances of continuing on with a single, healthy pregnancy. Approximately 80% of the twin conceptions presented after 40 days of pregnancy will subsequently abort, most often before the eighth month of pregnancy. This can cause major complications including trauma, illness, infection and possibly laminitis for the mare, as well as reduced fertility for the next breeding. In the rare event that the mare delivers live foals, there are increased problems for the mare and greater loss of life for the foals during the first two weeks of life.