Now is the time to be proactive if you think your horse has been exposed or might be coming down with a viral infection. The worst thing that you can do for you and your horse is to panic, which acts as a major stress factor to everybody’s immune system.
Stress causes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to become unbalanced. All of your activities should be geared at restoring this natural balance enabling the body to function at optimal levels.
Reduce trailering whenever possible. Travel is stressful to everyone involved, no matter how well they seem to travel.
Reduce pain . Pain acts as a stressor to the body. There are many ways to decrease the amount of pain that your horse experiences from areas of chronic irritation. Many therapies (massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, reiki, and homeopathy) have been shown to reduce pain without decreasing the ability of the immune system to work effectively. If your horse requires the use of a traditional anti-inflammatory try to avoid steroids (these shut down the immune system). Cox 2 inhibitors are probably the best choice of traditional anti-inflammatory as they are more specific in the inflammation cascade and still allow the immune system to function.
Contact a certified animal chiropractor in your area. Chiropractic care has been shown to reduce stress and enhance the immune system. The immune system has direct ties to the nervous system of your horse and proper chiropractic care deals with the nervous system. If your horse receives monthly chiropractic visits it might be wise to increase this to weekly during a viral attack. If your horse doesn’t receive regular chiropractic care, now would be a good time to start.
Delay maintenance veterinary procedures such as dental work, chemical worming and vaccinations if an outbreak is occurring in your area. Vaccination is aimed at stimulating the immune system not supporting it. Sedation depresses the immune system.
Keep pasture friends together whenever possible. Separation increases stress as does lack of motion. Make sure that your quarantined animals are getting plenty of exercise. Do not increase training/exercise stress.
Offer Bach Rescue Remedy or Botanical Animal’s CrisEase in water troughs and/or directly into the mouth. This helps the body filter out unneeded neurological input and concentrate on what is important.
ADDRESS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Your horse is equipped with a system that is built to help the body withstand invasion from outside sources. This system is complex and often misunderstood. It works better when we can support it, rather than stimulate it. Here are some things that you can do to help support your horse’s immune system.
Diet – Ensure your horse’s diet is a positive factor and is not contributing to their overall stress level.
High sugar/high starch feeds can reduce white blood cell count within 30 minutes of ingesting! In addition, high-sugar and starch foods can cause obesity as well as depress the immune function and ability of the white blood cells to multiply. Be sure to provide at least ½ lb. of quality protein and essential fatty acids per day. These nutrients are essential to maintain the integrity and health of your horse’s cell walls. Rice bran, linseed meal, and canola meal provide this, along with plenty of grass hay or pasture.
Vitamins and minerals – ensure that your horse has plenty of available essential vitamins. The most expensive ingredient in a bag of feed is usually the vitamins and minerals. If you are not feeding according to the label, you are starving your horse of important factors involved in their health. There are numerous supplements that can help your horse; those that are not overly processed are easier for your horse to assimilate. Some important ingredients to consider for health include but are not limited to:
Zinc - Helps transport unwanted chemicals out of the body. It is instrumental in the building of protein and DNA.
Magnesium - Is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps regulate blood sugar and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
Copper - Important for liver function, skin tone and the expression of hair color.
Iodine - Important for heart, kidney, liver, spleen and thyroid function. Even though your horse has a normal thyroid blood level it might have a low functional thyroid due to the bombardment by environmental toxins on the body. It can help protect your horse from external radiation contamination. You can check your horse’s basal metabolic rate. For low metabolic rates you might need to add even more of this mineral.
Chromium - Enhances the action of insulin and helps with maintenance of normal glucose levels in the blood
Cobalt (Vitamin B12) - Important in red blood cell formation and fat and protein metabolism.
Water soluble Vitamin E - One of the first recognized antioxidants and essential for immune function.
Probiotic cultures - Probiotics are “good bacteria.” In animals undergoing stress the normal micro flora of the gastrointestinal tract can become altered, changing the pH value and digestive processes. Stress can lead to a decreased intake of food and without adequate energy sources beneficial bacteria in the gut may decline.
Thiamin HCl USP (Vitamin B1) - Essential for normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Pyridoxine HCl USP (Vitamin B6) - Is a part of over 100 enzymes involved in immune support and protein metabolism
Vitamin A - An antioxidant that boosts immunity, counteracts stress and strengthens mucous membranes.
Biotin (Vitamin B7) - Essential in metabolism of food into energy. It helps strengthen hooves and aids in controlling blood sugar levels.
HOMEOPATHIC AND HERBAL REMEDIES
The nice thing about homeopathy is that there are no negative side effects. Single remedies can be chosen to help deal with any signs that you may be seeing in your animals. Each horse may require a different homeopathic remedy. Make sure that your herbal remedies are geared to support and not stimulate the immune system.
Olive leaf extract is an herbal product that has been proven to have antiviral properties.
Some combination homeopathic remedies that might help any horse would include:
Infectastat and Virustat may be used together to help combat the symptoms of viral infection and help the body detoxify and rid itself of the virus.
Neuralgia HP is used for nervous system regulation for relief of numbness, tingling and irritation of nerves if your horse is showing neurological signs.
Now is a time for you to act, not react, to the environment your horse lives in and the multitude of things to which they are exposed. Let your horse be a horse. For more educational material check out www.hyhh.tv .