Monthly Archives: November 2016

Get to Know More About PBEC’s Dr. Tyler Davis!

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Dr. Tyler Davis graduated from the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine in Glasgow, Scotland, and performed his undergraduate studies at Pennsylvania State University. He then became a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Dr. Davis was born in Linesville, Pennsylvania, and is married to Dr. Janet Greenfield, also a Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarian. He enjoys fly-fishing and spending time with his wife and their two children.

 How did you get your start with horses?
Entering vet school, my intentions were always to work in large animal medicine.  I actually thought I might focus on farm animals, having grown up in a farming area in Pennsylvania.  My focus turned to horses alone after starting to work with the university research ponies and spending more time around the equine hospital in my first year of vet school.

When and why did you decide to become a veterinarian?
My interest in veterinary medicine started in middle school.  I participated in 4-H, raising animals for our county fair, and had friends who were farmers.  Between the two I met many of the local vets and experienced the veterinary profession.  When offered to ride along with them on calls, I agreed.  While I did investigate other degrees within the science/biology field, I settled on veterinary medicine.

What was the experience attending veterinary school in another country, and how did that enhance your education?
I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend vet school at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.  Attending vet school in a different country afforded me the opportunity to visit places and experience cultures I would have otherwise never had.  Also, I believe the experience allowed me to see agricultural practices in a different light, when compared to those practices in the USA.  I participated in externships both in the UK and in the USA (knowing I wanted to move back home following graduation) while attending vet school, allowing me to discover different qualities from each.
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Why did you choose to focus on dentistry? 

I think that I have a strong focus in dentistry but have a number of other skills as well.  When starting at PBEC there were only 1-2 other doctors in the practice performing routine dentals floats and the like.  I enjoyed the dental work and began steering my focus on the topic through wet labs, continuing education seminars, etc.

What kinds of work are involved with equine dentistry?
My focus in dentistry goes beyond simply floating teeth.  While routine dental floats do take up a large portion of my dentistry duties, there are other aspects of the field, which I participate in as well.  I also see horses for dental examinations when we may think there is a relationship between the dentition/head and their ability to perform at their desired level. Tooth extractions make up another portion of the dentistry I perform.  Occasionally we find infected or fractured teeth on the routine dental exams, but more often these horses are referred to us, either with a diagnosed tooth problem or with a related complaint (not eating, plays with bit during work, throwing head, etc.).  We are able to bring these horses to the clinic to be “worked up” (diagnosis through x-ray, oral exam, etc.) and treated (oral tooth extraction, sinus flush, etc.).  We have a great facility offering versatility with cases.  I work closely with our surgical staff so that if needed, we can put a horse under general anesthesia if more invasive surgical procedures are merited.

What do you love about working at PBEC?
Palm Beach Equine Clinic has both a great facility and a great staff. It is a joy working here.
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What are some of your other interests?
My other interests include archery, fishing, and woodworking.  Typically if I am not working then I am spending time with my beautiful wife and daughters.

What is something interesting that people may not know about you?
Growing up in Pennsylvania, I am actually a pretty good Polka dancer.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Warns Florida Horse Owners to Check Their Pastures for Toxic Creeping Indigo

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The veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, FL, caution horse owners of recent toxicity cases that have arisen in South Florida suspected by the low growing weed, Creeping Indigo. Although Creeping Indigo is not native to Florida and has been reportedly growing in the state since the 1920s, the plant has recently spread from the past summer’s humid conditions. Most toxic plants are not palatable to horses and therefore do not pose as much risk; however, it appears that horses are eating Creeping Indigo with suspected fatal effects. The only real treatment is to recognize and remove the poisonous plant from all grazing areas.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s Dr. Kathleen Timmins explained that veterinarians in South Florida are suspecting Creeping Indigo cases more often and in more places than ever before. Many people are unaware of the problems this toxic plant can cause.

“Toxicity from Creeping Indigo can present itself through a number of different symptoms, which can make it difficult to recognize and definitively diagnose,” Dr. Timmins noted. “There is no test or treatment, and the damage that it causes can be irreversible. The only true treatment is limiting their exposure to it.”
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The most important step to avoid illness is to eradicate the plant from all pastures and grazing areas. Horse owners should walk through their property and review grass areas for the plant. Creeping Indigo is a prostrate plant that is commonly found in high traffic areas of grass, such as parking lots, turf, roadsides, medians, and overgrazed pastures. Flowers arise from the base of the leaves and are pink to salmon in color. It often grows under the grass, and when it is not flowering, it can be difficult to see. It also has a very deep root, so it is not easy to pull up.

Both neurologic and non-neurologic signs are documented, and researchers are uncertain how much Creeping Indigo a horse needs to consume before clinical signs appear.

The most notable signs are neurologic; horses may seem lethargic or have less energy than usual. Head carriage is often low, and there may be rhythmic blinking and jerking eye movements. An abnormal gait may be noticed, characterized by incoordination and weakness in all limbs.

Non-neurologic signs may include high heart and respiratory rates, high temperature, watery discharge from the eyes, discoloration of the cornea or corneal ulceration, or ulceration of the tongue and gums.

“There are so many varied symptoms that it is often not the first diagnosis you would think of,” Dr. Timmins explained. “There are also many other toxic plants, but if horses have access to good quality feed or grazing, they will not usually eat the toxic plants. The best solution is to find the plant, get rid of it, and not have to find out if it has been consumed.”

Horses that are quickly removed from the plants may recover completely, but there is no effective treatment, and symptoms may persist. The best way to prevent poisoning is to stop access to paddocks where Creeping Indigo is present and to remove plants by physical means or herbicide application.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic suggests that horse owners check their paddocks and grazing areas prior to use. For more information, call PBEC at 561-793-1599.

Shipping Fever: What to Know and How to Reduce Risk

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By Dr. Ryan Lukens

Shipping fever is a respiratory disease complex associated with the transport of horses. A common scenario for shipping fever is when a horse is trailered from its barn to another state to attend a show. The horse may be healthy and well-hydrated before entering the trailer, but the stress of travel can weaken the immune system.

Another leading factor is tying a horse’s head up while trailering long distances. The mucociliary apparatus of the trachea, which clears dirt and debris from the lower airway, is interrupted due to dehydration, change in temperature, and the inability of the horse to lower its head. The introduction of foreign material into the lower airway can lead to pneumonia, fluid in the pleural cavity (surrounding the lungs), and associated respiratory distress.

Common symptoms noted are hyperventilation, increased rectal temperature, coughing, and nasal discharge after travel. The horse may seem depressed, not willing to work, and not interested in food or water. It is important to call the vet immediately if any of these symptoms are observed after a horse travels. The faster an infection in the lower airway is treated, the quicker and more likely the horse can recover. Shipping fever, if left untreated, can lead to severe pleuropneumonia, which can be life-threatening.
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Initial treatment includes antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and hydration. If pneumonia progresses without treatment, surgery may be indicated, which can include removal of a rib and placement of chest drains (to drain fluid around the lungs). The vet should be called, and it is crucial to begin treatment at the earliest sign.

There are several preemptive steps that can be implemented to reduce the risk of a horse developing respiratory disease related to travel:

1.  Split up long trailer rides over several days. Be sure to take breaks and let horses out of the trailer at least every 6-8 hours, if possible.

2. Ensure the horse is properly hydrated before travel. Common preventative practice includes administration of oral or IV fluids by a veterinarian prior to travel.

3. Discontinue any immunosuppressant drugs 48 hours prior to travel. This includes steroids such as dexamethasone.

4. Ship horses in a box stall or similar enclosure so their heads do not have to be tied during travel.

5. Ask a veterinarian about immunostimulant drugs that can be given prior to travel.

Shipping fever can occur after any form of travel. Whether a horse is being transported by trailer or plane, remember to be proactive and vigilant. Owners can assist their equines in the first line of defense against shipping fever. Contact a veterinarian at the first sign of risk. For more information, call Palm Beach Equine Clinic at 561-793-1599 or visit www.equineclinic.com.

The 4-1-1 on Equine Import and Export with Dr. Jordan Lewis

A semi truck with a horse trailer heads down the highway.

A semi truck with a horse trailer heads down the highway.

As more and more international-level sport horse shows sprout up in North America, the import and export of equine athletes from overseas has increased significantly in recent years. Moreover, with the winter show season in Florida quickly approaching, horses from around the world are about to make a pilgrimage to South Florida.

Either for a purchase or regularly scheduled show-season travel, Dr. Jordan Lewis of Palm Beach Equine Clinic works with Florida state veterinarians to simplify the process of importing and exporting horses to and from international destinations during the winter season.

The process begins with obtaining travel documents, including an equine passport and health certificate, and organizing travel arrangements with a professional equine shipper. Once travel is organized, checking the horse’s health is suitable for traveling is always the top priority.

“The most important thing to have in order is health records, up-to-date vaccinations, and complete preventative care,” said Dr. Lewis. “Much of the testing upon import and export depends on the outbreaks of different disease in the import and export countries. The requirements change year to year and even month to month.”

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Dr. Lewis is one of the many vets at Palm Beach Equine Clinic who helps owners navigate through the ever-changing import, export, and quarantine regulations.

“Most horses that are coming from Europe to the U.S. to compete in Florida fly into Miami and are placed in a two- or three-day U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quarantine depending on the country they are arriving from,” said Dr. Lewis. “If they are arriving from South America, however, requirements are different and they will spend seven days at USDA in Miami.”

It is there that the most current regulations are upheld and tests are performed to rule out the presence of any threatening diseases.

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When importing to the U.S., Dr. Lewis affirms that many tests are required through blood draws, including equine infectious anaemia (EIA) or coggins; piroplasmosis, which is a tick-borne disease; glanders, a common bacterial disease; and dourine, a parasite-born venereal disease. When traveling from South America, horses are also tested for other parasites, such as screw worms. When exporting from the U.S., testing will vary based on the regulations of the destination country, its current health precautions and common parasites or diseases.

Once the initial quarantine is complete, geldings are released into the general population, while stallions and mares are transitioned to CEM quarantine at either a commercial or private quarantine facility.

Contagious equine metritis (CEM) is a venereal disease in horses caused by bacteria and is only spread during breeding or through infected semen during artificial insemination. CEM quarantine is recommended for all horses entering the U.S. from Europe, but not necessary for those flying in from South America as the disease is not present in those countries.

According to Dr. Lewis, CEM quarantine takes about 15 days for mares and 35 to 40 days for stallions. Taking this into account, she recommends owners plan a month to complete the travel regulations for a mare and two months for a stallion. Horses that are continually showing obviously don’t have this time built into their travel schedules, and that is where waiver tents enter the equation.

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Mares and stallions that bypass CEM quarantine are shipped in a sealed trailer to the competition facility where they enter quarantine in a waiver tent to keep them secure from the general horse population while competing.

If horses are admitted into a traditional CEM quarantine, veterinarians like Dr. Lewis perform the appropriate tests and cultures that clear a horse for approved release into a new home or to the event.

“We work very closely with state veterinarians to do all the blood draws and testing for imported horses, as well as stay on top of the requirements of export countries so each horse can easily and safely transition into the equine population,” said Lewis.

While requirements may change often, the ultimate goal of veterinarians like Dr. Lewis and her colleagues remains the same: releasing safe, healthy, and happy horses to travel into the U.S. and all countries around the world.

About Dr. Lewis
Dr. Jordan Lewis is a 2004 graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. She is a Florida native and grew up in south Florida competing on the Arabian circuit before completing her internship in equine medicine and surgery at the Equine Medical Center in Ocala. She joined Palm Beach Equine Clinic in 2005.