Just as our health care needs change as we age, your horse’s health care needs also change. Nutritional needs, exercise habits, and many aspects of your horse’s daily routine and behavior can change with age. But how can you tell the difference between “normal” aging and a medical problem? As with humans, some health issues that affect older horses can begin with very subtle changes that may go unnoticed until the problem has become serious, so it’s important to plan ahead and know what to look for as your horse becomes older.
Regular wellness examinations are important for every stage of your horse’s life, so don’t forget to schedule your senior horse’s wellness appointments. The best way to help protect your horse as he or she ages is to understand the aging process. We understand that process and can help you help your horse. Even if your senior horse is already being treated for a medical condition, treatment recommendations may change as your horse ages. Sometimes medication dosages need to be adjusted, or medication may need to be changed. Routine physical examinations, including dental examination and another routine diagnostic testing (e.g., blood tests), are important for senior horses because these tests allow us to evaluate how your horse’s health is responding to current management strategies and changing with age. Some problems, such as teeth malocclusion or Cushing disease (pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction), are fairly common in geriatric horses (aged 20 years or older). Treating these problems can help keep your horse comfortable and in good condition.
Your senior horse’s wellness examination also offers us an opportunity to examine your horse and address any of your questions or concerns about your horse. We welcome your questions and encourage you to be involved in decisions regarding your horse’s health care.
Older horses make wonderful companions, and thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, horses are living longer than ever! You are an important ally in your senior horse’s health care, and we are here to help ensure that your horse is safe and happy throughout the “golden years.”