Monday, January 24, 2011

Coggins Testing in Michigan

Please note, this information is no longer current. Michigan's new requirements for Coggins testing can be found on this blog, August 1, 2011. Click here to go the current rules. Read on, if you want to know what the rules used to be.

We have had a number of inquiries lately about when and why horses need to have a Coggins test done. Each state has their own requirements, but since I live in and practice in Michigan, we will limit our discussion to this state. If you live in, or are travelling to state other than Michigan, you will need to check with that state for their requirements.

Michigan is one of the few states that requires a negative test within the current calendar year. “Current calendar year” is defined as the 13 month period from Dec. 1 through the following Dec 31. If the horse was tested on Nov. 30, then that Coggins would expire in 31 days, on Dec. 31. If that makes sense to you, maybe you could explain it to me.

A Coggins test is a blood test for a contagious viral disease that affects horses called Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). EIA is a disease for which there currently is no treatment or vaccine for. As such, infected horses only serve a source of infection to other horses. Testing is the only method of disease control that is available. The disease is a federally regulated disease which requires the test to be submitted and reported on a federally approved form.

Here is when the state of Michigan requires that your horse have a negative Coggins test:
1. If your horse is entered into a fair, show, exhibition or similar event.
2. If your horse is changing ownership. Any horse consigned to sell at auction must have a negative test before entering the sale.
3. If a horse enters Michigan from another state.
4. If your horse is travelling out of state. This one bears a little further explanation because it really depends on the requirements of the state you are travelling to. If the horse is going to be gone longer than 30 days, then the requirements for travel back into Michigan (current calendar year) apply. If the horse is travelling back within 30 days, then the horse only needs to meet the Coggins testing requirements for the destination state.

A couple of years ago we converted our Coggins forms from the old carbon copy forms to a computer based form that utilizes digital pictures of the horse for identification of the horse. This new method allows for faster turnaround of results, a much neater form, better animal identification (actual picture vs. a drawing on the old forms) and the results come in an electronic format which can be e-mailed. Some clients have really appreciated getting their Coggins tests back by e-mail because then they can print as many copies as they would like (one for the trailer, one for their show book, one for the barn, etc…) Please provide the doctor with a valid e-mail address if you would like your Coggins test sent via e-mail. Click here to see a sample of what the computerized version of the Coggins form looks like.

For more details on Michigan’s requirements for Coggins testing, check out:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Looking for a Stud?

Breeding season is technically still a couple weeks away, but if you are still looking for a good deal on a breeding to a quality Quarter Horse stallion, check out There is a long list of breedings to good stallions that were not purchased in their annual Stallion Service Sale. Breeding that were not sold at the auction are available for purchase at 60% of the advertised stud fee plus a $25 office fee. To purchase a breeding call Michigan Quarter Horse at 616-225-8211 or visit them on line at

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Product: Protazil

Protazil (diclazuril) was just released this month for the treatment and/or prevention of EPM (Equine Protozoal Myelitis) in horses. EPM is a disease that has been has been around for several decades. The disease is caused by a protozoa, called Sarcocystis neurona. It primarily causes neurologic deficits, which are sometimes vague and non-specific. This is not the first or only drug available for the treatment of this disease. It has actually been around for a while. Prior to its adaptation to the horse it was used to treat protozoal infections in chickens. While it is nice to have another weapon in the war on EPM, this drug is not going to cure every horse. According to the information submitted to the FDA for approval, only 67% of affected horses improved one neurologic grade (graded on a scale of 1-5) or no longer tested positive. That means that a horse that has grade 3 neurologic deficits has a 67% chance of improving to a grade 2. Meaning the horse still has neurologic deficits, they just might not be as bad. One of the challenges with this data is that they only looked at the horses a month after treatment stopped. They likely continued to improve beyond that time frame. The neurologic system is very slow to heal, to the extent that it can. Neurologic deficits associated with EPM can be caused by direct damage of the protozoa to the spinal cord and by the inflammation associated with their presence. Killing the protozoa does nothing to fix the damage that the protozoa did prior to starting treatment. Thus, at least so far, all the medications currently used to treat EPM, while they may be effective at killing the protozoa, do not always result in complete resolution of the symptoms. Initiating treatment as soon as possible, while any neurologic deficits are mild, will result in the best clinical outcomes. If treatment is not started until the horse has severe neurologic deficits, the deficits may improve, but in the end the horse will be less likely to experience a complete resolution of symptoms. Like most new drugs, this stuff is not cheap. A 28 day course of treatment will cost somewhere around $850.

You can read more technical information at:

New Product: Sucromate

SucroMate (deslorelin) is another “new” drug to hit the market in the past month. SucroMate is indicated for the induction of ovulation in mares. It is given while the mare is in heat to induce her to ovulate. This greatly simplifies the use of shipped cooled or frozen semen for breeding because we can reliably time insemination with ovulation. The active incredient in this injectable solution is deslorelin. The reason I put “new” in quotes is that deslorelin has actually been around and widely used for some time now. It initially came on the market probably around 15 years ago under the name of Ovuplant. Ovuplant was deslorelin in a sustained released implant that was placed under the skin. It was taken off the market several years ago. Deslorelin has continued to be used as a compounded product since then. Compounding is when a pharmacist formulates a product in their own pharmacy. The FDA allows us to use compounded medications when an FDA approved product is not available. The problem with compounding is that quality control is left to the sole discretion of the person doing the compounding. That almost always means that there is no quality control. There have been numerous studies that have shown that compound medications may vary widely from what is put on the label. While it may be better than nothing, it is certainly not ideal either. SucroMate is the first FDA approved product available, since Ovuplant, for the induction of ovulation in mares. From a cost perspective, it will cost less than the compounded product we had been using.

New Product: Equioxx Injectable

Equioxx (firocoxib) injectable in a newer product I wanted to make sure you were aware of. An oral form of Equioxx has been available for over a year now, but it now comes in an injectable form, as well. Equioxx is used for the treatment of osteoarthritis in horses. Clinically we end up using it similarly to phenylbutazone (bute). The primary advantage of Equioxx is that is has a significantly less potential for some of the side effects that bute can cause. Bute can be a little harsh on the stomach, so in horses who are under a lot of stress (in training) or who have a predisposition to stomach ulcers or gastritis, Equioxx might be a good option for them. The other advantage to Equioxx is that it only needs to be dosed once daily. The injectable form allows us to achieve a therapeutic blood level much faster than the oral paste. Equioxx is similar in cost to Banamine.

Monday, January 3, 2011

COW: Strangulating Lipoma

It has been a while since I posted a case of the week (maybe at the rate I’m going it should be case of the month—but then the acronym COM just isn’t as nice as COW). This was an older horse I saw on emergency last week. The history was a sudden onset (less than 2 hrs) very severe colic. In fact when I arrived, the horse was down, in shock and unable to get up. With the assistance of lots of good drugs we were able to get the horse comfortable enough to stand just long enough to do a rectal exam. Rectal exams are probably the single best diagnostic aid we have in sorting out colic’s. On rectal, a very tight band could be felt. This almost always means that something is twisted or displaced.

As it turned out, the cause of this horse’s colic was what is called a strangulating lipoma. They are called that because it is a lipoma that ‘strangles’ off a portion of the intestine. Lipomas are benign tumors of fat. In horses, they tend to form in a very thin membrane, referred to as the mesentery. Lipomas really do not cause a significant problem for the horse until they somehow get wrapped around a loop of intestine- almost always the small intestine. Once they wrap around a loop of intestine, the horse VERY quickly becomes extremely painful. The only way to fix the problem is surgery. Often they wrap tight enough around the intestines that they also occlude the blood flow to that section of intestine. If the circulation to the affected loops is significantly compromised then the intestine quickly begins to die, in which case at surgery the strangulated loop of intestine would have to be surgically removed. That is why, if surgery is to going to be pursued, it needs to happen ASAP. Even if surgery is elected for, sometimes you just cannot get the horse on the surgery table fast enough to save the intestine. On average about half of horses treated surgically survive in the long term.

Strangulating lipomas are so devastating, in large part, because they strike out of nowhere. There is nothing that can be done to prevent them and the only effective treatment is surgery. It is virtually impossible to detect these tumors until they cause a strangulation. The only thing that may lessen the development of these benign fat tumors is to keep your horse from getting too fat. Because it takes quite a bit of time for these tumors to form, they usually do not develop to a sufficient size to cause a problem until the horse is in its late teens or twenties. For reasons we do not yet fully understand, geldings and ponies tend to be at a greater risk for developing lipomas. The only effective treatment for a strangulating lipoma is surgery. Current estimates for an uncomplicated surgical colic are in the $5-7000 range. This type of colic is at a higher risk for post-surgical complications, so they can easily cost in excess of $7,000 to fix.

Here are the life lessons from this case: 1. With any severe, sudden onset colic, a veterinarian should be consulted immediately. In these cases, banamine is rarely ever powerful enough to suppress the severe level of pain. 2. Keep banamine on hand. Banamine is a medication that is quite effective in suppressing pain originating from the abdomen. Often a mild colic can be managed with this medication alone. If the pain does not resolve within 45-60 minutes of an oral dose of banamine, then a veterinarian should definitely be consulted. 3. Surgical costs are expensive and are almost always unexpected. It is wise to have some funds set aside in an emergency fund or have colic insurance. 4. Lipomas are just one more reason to add to the long list of reasons to keep your horse from getting overweight. Even if you do, as in this case, strangulating lipomas can and do still occur.

Here are some pictures of what they actually look like. The picture below is of the lipoma (after being unwrapped from the small intestine). Also notice the congested blood vessels to the small intestine as a result of the lipoma inhibiting the normal flow of blood.

Here is a picture of the distended loops of small intestine that develop as a result of the inability for ingesta to move through.