Complete Health Exam/Wellness Consult

Annual complete physical examination includes assessment of major organ system function – heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, skin, etc. Provides a baseline for future evaluations and gives an opportunity for client and veterinarian to jointly make a plan for continued good health or suggestions for improvement in areas noted on exam. Including:

  • Ophthalmic Exam

External and Internal evaluation of overall eye health and vision. Internal view and assessment of the structures of the eye with an ophthalmoscope, a specially lighted magnification tool.

  • Soundness Exam

Includes palpation of each of the horse’s limbs, hoof tester examination, evaluation of current level of farrier care, soundness examination of horse at a trot on a hard surface or under saddle. Discussion may include recommendations for continued soundness (supplements or other medications). Chiropractic treatment options may be recommended as part of an overall maintenance plan. ** Note:   A separate appointment will be necessary to determine the source of any lameness issue s identified as part of this examination and perform appropriate treatments.

  • Dental Exam with Speculum

Good dental and oral health is critical to overall health maintenance in horses.

Dr. Russau giving a dental exam.

Dental Exam

Many dental concerns are located in the furthest back molars, therefore no oral exam is sufficient without the use of a speculum to allow an assessment of the back of the mouth! Annual or semi-annual dental floating is recommended not only for your horse’s general health, but to avoid many performance problems originating from the teeth. **Note: Should sedation be required to complete the dental speculum exam, a separate fee for that sedation will be incurred.

  • Nutritional Counseling / Weight Tape Measurement / Body Condition Scoring

Many of our equine companions suffer from being overweight. An objective assessment of their body weight and evaluation of their Body Condition Score will help us jointly evaluate their current feeding programs and make suggestions for improvements if warranted. Fecal Egg Count – an objective measurement of eggs shed by internal parasites. This test is a good indicator of the effectiveness of the current deworming program and may indicate where improvements can be made relative to specific internal parasites. Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Chemistry (CS) – CBC is a blood test to evaluate the quality and quantity of red and white blood cells. It gives one representation of the overall health or likelihood of infection present at the time of testing. The Blood Profile (or Chemistry Screen – CS) gives an evaluation of organ system function (liver, kidney, etc) by measuring enzyme levels in the blood. Cushing’s Disease Screening or Insulin Resistance Screening – Cushing’s Disease (or Hyperadrenocorticism) can be typically thought of as an aging horse disease – although not always. High levels of circulating cortisol in the system can be associated with abnormal glucose/insulin metabolism – resulting in moderately to severely overweight horses. Very long hair coats which resist shedding, poor wound healing and an increased propensity to founder in the Spring or Fall are hallmark signs of Cushing’s Disease. Insulin Resistance is another common metabolic problem we are seeing more and more frequently. Due to high carbohydrate grains, rich hay and decreased exercise routines, some horses become quite overweight and cannot metabolize sugars very well. This may make them more prone to laminitis and other health problems. Coggins Test – an annual test for Equine Infectious Anemia. Proof of negative Coggins Test is required for entrance into many public places, including horse shows, events, trail rides, boarding barns, and for any interstate travel. All horses should have an annual Coggins Test, even if you don’t PLAN on taking them anywhere. In case of emergency – medical or natural disaster evacuation, a negative Coggins Test may be required for admission to emergency facilities or shelters.


  • EWT – Eastern and Western Encephalitis are viral diseases spread by insects and affect the central nervous system; the brain and spinal cord. They are often fatal and are easily and effectively prevented by routine vaccination. Tetanus is also a deadly and easily preventable disease. Biannual vaccination with this three way combination is recommended in our area.
  • West Nile Virus – Another type of virus causing encephalitis which may affect other animals, especially birds, and humans. Infection may be fatal or, if survived, may cause lasting neurological deficits. Biannual vaccination is recommended in our area.
  • PHF – Potomac Horse Fever – First recognized in the Potomac Valley of Maryland, this disease is specific to our area – from New England south to the North Carolina border. It is transmitted to horses via water-loving insects but is not contagious horse to horse or horse to human. This disease can cause high fevers, laminitis (founder), colic, severe diarrhea and death. PHF season in Virginia is late Summer through the Fall. Biannual vaccination is recommended in our area.
  • Influenza – Flu is a highly contagious virus. Typically seen in stressed, ill, or traveling horses and in barn situations with a high rate of horses coming and going. Vaccine frequency varies from annual to four-times per year, depending upon the horses exposure.
  • Rhinopneumonitis – a virus contagious from horse to horse, “Rhino” usually presents itself as a respiratory disease causing flu-like symptoms, nasal discharge, cough, fever, depression and lethargy. It may also cause abortions in pregnant mares. In its neurological form, it can cause high fevers, incoordination, paralysis and death. Vaccination is available against the respiratory and abortive forms, however, no vaccine is proven effective in preventing the neurological form of this disease. Again, vaccine frequency from annual to two to four-times per year, depends on exposure.

Typically, Flu and Rhino vaccine are given together as a combination shot. Flu is also available as an intranasal vaccine (given in the nose) and seems to be quite effective when administered in that manner. Separate vaccination for the abortive form of this disease is recommended for all pregnant mares at the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th months of gestation.

Other Available Vaccinations (not included in the Health Care Plans – but still important):

  • Strangles – A very contagious infection of the lymph nodes under and behind the jaw, this illness is caused by a member of the Strep family of bacteria. Illness varies from mild fever and lethargy, to very high fever, depression, lack of appetite, and laminitis (founder).Horses may have small to large, draining abscesses as well as thick nasal discharge. Complications from this disease can be fatal. The intranasal vaccine against Strangles is fairly effective in preventing this disease, but carries some controversy. Recommended in high-risk situations, but not across the board, for all horses. Annual intranasal vaccination is available.
  • Botulism – A particularly deadly bacteria found in contaminated foodstuffs or soils, this lethal toxin causes paralysis and death. Botulism may also be contracted through open wounds. Paralyzing the horse, symptoms include inability to control tongue movement, and therefore the ability to swallow, muscle trembling, and generalized weakness. Round bale hay feeding is associated with increase risk for contracting Botulism. Annual vaccination is highly recommended where round bales are fed and on certain farms that have had positive cases of Botulism. Near term pregnant mares are also recommended to receive the Botulism vaccine to prevent “Shaker Foal Syndrome” in their newborns.


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by Spanish Proverb