Veterinary Technicians

By: Katie Jones, CVT

When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.

~ A.D. Williams

176_anoka-equine_2012Anoka Equine has always had the health and well-being of the horse at the center of what we do. This idea resides at the heart of our entire staff, including our veterinary technicians. Veterinary technicians are the nurses of the veterinary field. Their roles were first introduced in the United States by the United States Air Force in 1951. This role was then introduced as a civilian program in 1961 at the State University of New York. Currently there are approximately 85,000 veterinary technician positions in the United States.

Based on the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians, veterinary technicians “perform most duties related to animal care, including anesthesia, medical imaging, lab work, dentistry, surgical assisting, patient treatments, as well as client education; however [they] may not diagnose conditions, give a prognosis for conditions, perform surgery or prescribe medication.” At Anoka Equine, the role of the technician includes everything from handling the horse during a lameness exam to running anesthesia. During the day technicians can be seen taking radiographs (x-rays), scoping the upper airways or stomach, administering drugs, and assisting the doctor during appointments. Anoka Equine is a 24-hour referral clinic; therefore, when the client appointments are complete and the doors have been locked-up for the day, many times the duties of the doctors and technicians aren’t over.

191_anokaequine_May_2015Neonatal Care: During the foaling season (Feb-Aug) Anoka Equine assists with a large volume of neonatal cases; both in clinic and in the field. Care for these special foal cases can even begin before birth. For foals admitted to the clinic, the technicians are the first responders to make sure a catheter is placed, blood work is ran, and the treatment plan written up by the doctor is started and scheduled out for the day. Cases involving maladjusted foals require intenseive24 hour management, including: physical exams, feeding, fluids, oxygen, administering medications, and assisting the foal to stand or flipping them so they aren’t continuously lying on the same side. This specific type of care requires long hours and knowledge of what to look for if a foal is not improving. The biggest concern with neonatal care is they can change from improving/healthy looking to dramatically decreasing in health in a matter of hours. Due to this rapid change a physical exam is typically done every other hour to remark on any changes in attitude, manure, or vitals. Subtle changes can redirect the doctor’s treatment plans.

Emergency cases/Surgery: Colics situation rarely enter the clinic during business hours. Typically a doctor has been trying to manage their pain out in the field for an extended period of time, with no improvements before the decision is made to bring the horse into the clinic for close observation and fluids. If the horse’s pain has intensified throughout the day, most often there will be a technician at the clinic with the doctor to help admit the horse, start fluids, and run blood work. Once the horse is connected to fluids, the technician on-call will often stay with them to perform frequent physical exams to monitor any changes. If pain becomes unmanageable the conversation of surgery must be discussed. Colic surgery is a team operation; two doctors perform the surgery, a technician as the surgical nurse, and a technician managing anesthesia.

067_anokaequine_May_2015Anesthesia: At Anoka Equine, just like at many other clinics, technicians are the ones to perform anesthesia for surgical procedures. This is an area technicians are required to learn at school. Once our Anoka Equine technicians are comfortable with their duties at the clinic, anesthesia may become an interest for them and they will be taught by fellow technicians equine specific anesthesia. In addition, equine anesthesia is a common topic regularly covered at annual continuing education events, which broadens our knowledge base as well.

If the field of veterinary technology interests you, consider shadowing at local veterinary clinics to see exactly the job is like.  For more information regarding entering into the profession you can find school and certification information at the MAVT website (http://mavt.net/education/certification)

Anoka Equine’s Technician Team

Shannon Gohr, CVT,  Anesthesia, Technician Manager
Shannon joined Anoka Equine in August of 2007. She graduated from Ridgewater College of Willmar in May 2007 with an Associate in Applied Science Degree / Veterinary Technician. Shannon grew up in a VERY small town west of St. Cloud which is where her family’s 10 horses are. She enjoys trail riding and doing parades with her horse Jet, spending time with her family and friends, and basically anything outdoors.

 

Kelsey Herrboldt, CVT
Kelsey jointed Anoka Equine in the spring of 2008 after graduating from the Minnesota School of Business with an A.A.S. in Veterinary Technology. Most of her time is spent at home with her wonderful family. Kelsey has two boys, Dallas and Tayden, with her boyfriend Todd.  They also have two cats, Ravy and Dooker, and a pug named E-gor. In her spare time you will find her and her boys at the barn with their Arabian gelding, Cisco.

 

Katie Jones, CVT, Anesthesia
Katie joined Anoka Equine in February 2011. She completed a Bachelors of Science in Animal  Science/ Pre-vet at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cites in May 2010. She went on to complete a A.A.S in Veterinary Technology at Argosy University and graduated in the fall 2011. In Katie’s free time she enjoys volleyball, photography, horse events, fishing, and traveling. She owns a husky, Luke, and horse, Turbo.

Brittany Aanerud, CVT
Brittany started at Anoka Equine in July of 2011 after graduating from North Dakota State University with a B.S. in Veterinary Technology. She grew up on a beef ranch outside of Bismarck, ND and enjoyed every minute of it. Outside of work Brittany enjoys riding her Quarter Horse “Doc”, snowboarding, reading, shopping, and being outdoors.

 

Katie Jo Hollis, Anesthesia

Katie Jo joined Anoka Equine March of 2012.  She graduated from MN school of Business, Blaine in June 2011 with an AAS in veterinary technology.  Katie Jo’s favorite hobby is gaming her grey Quarter Horse “Banjo” and working with young horses.  She also enjoys hunting, fishing, softball, and spending time with her family.  She also loves her 2 cats and her Blue Heeler X “Dixie”.

Dani Wiederholt, Night Technician

I was given the opportunity to work for Anoka Equine in November of 2014. I am scheduled to graduate from Minnesota School of Business in spring of 2015 majoring in Veterinary Technology. I was given my first horse at 8 years old, and they have been my life ever since. I have 2 quarter horses of my own, Karma and Wilbur that I game and compete with during the summer.  I enjoy spending time outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. I also have 3 cats, and my Mini Australian Shepherd Riley that I love dearly.  ​

 

Thank you to our amazing team of technicians at Anoka Equine.

 

Equine Feed Basics – The 3 Main Classes of Equine Feed

By: Rachel Mottet, M.S.

Equine Specialist – Purina Animal Nutrition

 

Choosing a feed for a horse can be tricky business, there are so many options! How do you know if you’re making the right selection? How do you know if you are meeting the minimum volume required to meet all your horse’s vitamin, mineral and amino acid requirements? Is the feed in question the right fit for your horse’s needs? Here are some basics to help you answer those questions…

 

Before I dive into the different types of feed, I must describe the horse’s nutrient needs – I refer to this as the equine food pyramid. This food pyramid is determined by the Equine NRC (National Research Council). The Equine NRC publishes equine nutrient requirements based on scientific data gained through published equine research. With the information from the Equine NRC, our equine food pyramid is created.

 

feed Basics 1When considering this food pyramid we must first think about hay. Hay is the #1 component of the equine diet and a good quality hay source is the key compliment to any grain. At the absolute minimum, it is recommended that a horse consume 1% of their bodyweight per day in hay. This percentage will go up based on extra energy demand from climate changes, workload, reproductive status, growth stage, etc. I recommend 1.2 – 1.5%+ of bodyweight per day in hay as a general rule of thumb for nutrition programs that I develop with horse owners.

 

Furthermore on the topic of hay, what we do know is that our hay (especially in the Midwest) does not cover all bases of the equine food pyramid. There are a few gaps that we can fill through feeding some type of concentrate. Here are the 3 main classes of equine feed and how to feed them:

 

Ration Balancers: This type of feed has become increasingly popular for horses who are easy keepers. For those horses that seem to thrive on hay alone, ration balancers are often the best choice. The best way to describe this feed is that it is similar to a daily vitamin/mineral & protein shake. This product covers all bases of the equine food pyramid in a small feeding rate of 1-2 lbs. total per day. This class of feed does not contain extra calories that contribute to weight gain and is designed to complement the forage source. I recommend Purina Enrich Plus as a ration balancer for your easy keeper.

 

The most common question I get from horse owners with easy keepers is: “My horse looks great on hay alone, why would I need to feed a ration balancer?” This is a good question! To answer this, I bring up the missing pieces of the equine food pyramid in feeding hay alone. Another important consideration is that many of the benefits from a balanced diet are not always seem. Vitamins, minerals and amino acids contribute to a healthy immune system, strong bone structure and hoof integrity among various other physiological benefits. For the sake of ease, let’s compare this to the human diet. One could eat fast food every day and appear to thrive or appear healthy on this diet. However, the reality is that we are shortchanging our body from key nutrients. Would you be able to tell from looking at a person that they are vitamin, mineral or amino acid deficient? Maybe, maybe not, but the body knows and functions optimally when all food pyramid bases are covered. This is why I suggest a ration balancer for your easy keepers. It fills the missing holes that hay leaves in the equine food pyramid.

 

Performance Feeds: Our next class of feed is the performance feed. This feed is designed to be fed at a rate of 4-8 lbs per day for a horse to maintain good body condition and perform to their best ability. It should be noted that the rate of feeding will depend on the individual horse and feed recommendation. All grains have a minimum feeding rate to fulfill the equine food pyramid so make sure to read the tag or talk to an equine specialist to determine this minimum for your horse.

 

Horses in a training program, performance horses and hard keepers generally benefit most from a performance feed. This feed provides all the NRC recommendations in addition to calories to support the energy demands of a higher workload or higher calorie demand. I recommend Strategy or Purina Ultium as a performance feed.

 

Feed BasicsComplete / Senior Feed: Ever notice that our horses are living a lot longer these days? A lot of this has to do with nutrition! Even when a horse has no teeth left in their mouth to chew and eat, they can still survive solely on a complete feed. A complete feed contains the hay and grain component in one product. This feed is designed to be the entire diet of the horse and will usually have a minimum recommended feeding rate of 6-8+ lbs. Why the higher minimum? This is because the hay component is present which, for lack of a better term, “dilutes” the grain and ups the minimum amount required to get 100% of the equine food pyramid covered.

 

Complete feeds are not only great for seniors but great if you do not have access to a quality forage source. The forage component is fortified with consistent high quality vitamins, minerals & proteins. These feeds are generally very low in starch and gentle on the gut of the horse. They have many functions and are helping our older horses live well into their 30’s! I recommend Purina Equine Senior, the #1 veterinarian recommended brand for your horse that is a senior or a horse that needs a complete feed.

While we have only scratched the surface here on equine feed classes, hopefully this helps answer a few basic questions. Feel free to contact me for an equine nutrition consult in the greater Twin Cities, I am always happy to help answer your equine nutrition questions! RSMottet@landolakes.com.

Purina Rachel

Rachel Mottet holds a B.S. & M.S. degree in Animal Science with an equine emphasis. She is an Equine Specialist with Purina and does 3-day eventing with her horse Titan.

Equine Insurance: Who needs it

 By: Katie Jones, CVT

We receive frequent calls regarding information on equine insurance. We do not represent or work for insurance companies. We also do not refer or suggest one over another. It is up to the individual horse owner to research and choose a company to best determine the type of coverage that fits their needs.

TurboI, myself, own a horse (Turbo) who is more of a weekend warrior out on the trail or at the occasional weekend show.   I went through most of my younger years dreaming and wishing for my own horse; however, I knew they were an investment difficult to have during college. The year I graduated from college I finally bought my horse and the investment into what I love began. Last year when I was faced with the question of, “would I take Turbo to colic surgery, if Banamine didn’t resolve his pain”, I didn’t know how to answer. Luckily for me he resolved his colic episode with a little amount of Banamine and time. As an Equine Technician, I see many situations not as simply resolved and surgical decisions become real. Sometimes the only thing separating a horse from euthanasia and a life-saving surgery is economics. A colic surgery base price starts around $3,500; however, overall medical care pre- and post-surgery can quickly reach $10,000. Would you be ready to front this cost in an emergency situation? If you have never had to answer this question, here are a few options to consider to help prepare you if the question ever arises.

Insurance

InsuranceWhen faced with a major medical expense, insurance is used to help soften the financial blow; so why couldn’t this work for your horse? Just like with human insurance, equine insurance has different types and levels of coverage. The two most frequently chosen insurance types are major medical and surgical. Major medical covers veterinary treatment, medications, and surgery due to an accident, injury, or illness on horses valued at a minimum of $7500. Surgical insurance only covers emergency or necessary surgeries performed under general anesthesia in a veterinary clinic, for any value horse.   To acquire either type of coverage, additional yearly mortality insurance is also required. Mortality insurance covers the horse’s value due to death from an accident, illness, or disease, and will typically cover loss due to theft. In the chance of an unexpected death, a mortality claim would require a necropsy report to determine the exact cause of death. (There are additional coverage options for individuals with equine businesses, such as loss of use or breeding coverages.)

The cost of equine insurance is based on the age, value, and use of the horse. Here is an example of what a quote would look like for an average trail horse (my horse, Turbo) from Blue Bridle Insurance.

sick horse

Great American Ins. Co.: (Turbo is categorized as a 7 yr. old Pleasure/Show Horse)
Plan 1: Only mortality: $2,000 (Value of Turbo) @ 3.6% = $200 Minimum/yr.
Plan 2: Surgical (ONLY surgical expenses included): $10,000 = $150/yr.

Total Annual Premium for Surgical Coverage: $350.00

+ An additional $10,000 limit can be added to the Surgical Coverage Plan to cover colic medical and/or surgical expenses for an additional $150/yr.

 

When considering purchasing equine insurance make sure to do plenty of research. It can become overwhelming when first looking into insurance due to the number of providing companies and the levels of coverage available. A company that specializes in equine insurance, or at least livestock, is highly recommended. By doing this, their overall understanding of the possible claims will heighten the ease of filling a claim. This will in turn result in less run around and a quicker response from a company with more equine claim experience compared to a typical Home-owners Insurance Company.

Finally, insurance coverage does have limitations. Limitations will be specific to the insuring company and are details to look into when considering equine insurance. Most insurance companies have an age limit on coverage, as well as restrictions regarding horses with preexisting conditions, specific to their policies. Make sure to compare coverage limitations, exclusions, and deductibles when considering different policies.

ColiCare – SmartPak

colic_care-379x121ColiCare is a wellness program supported by SmartPak. This program allows a small peace of mind by providing up to $7500 towards colic surgery (reimbursement will only cover the cost of the surgery not any medical treatment of the colic). To qualify for this wellness program, administration of an eligible ColiCare product daily to your horse is required. These supplements are designed to provide comprehensive hindgut support to lower the risk of digestive upset that can lead to colicky episodes with ingredients like prebiotics, yeast, and enzymes. An annual wellness exam with a veterinarian is also required. The veterinarian will verify vaccination history, perform a dental exam with recommendations, and perform a fecal test to set-up a deworming schedule. ColiCare is a wonderful compliment to any insurance policy. ColiCare will reimburse independently; therefore, additional financial coverage will be seen in addition to any initial insurance reimbursement.

Program Requirements

Annual Wellness Requirements, which include:

  • Physical exam performed by your veterinarian
  • Dental exam performed by your veterinarian
  • Vaccinations administered by a veterinarian
  • Deworming program developed with your veterinarian that includes at least one fecal test and two deworming administrations per year

For more information on the products or to get signed up for the ColiCare program, please visit the SmartPak website: https://www.smartpakequine.com/colicare. Anoka Equine Veterinary serves does currently have clients that are on this program.

 

EQCO Coverage – Platinum Performance

eqco-program-slidePlatinum Performance has its own wellness program similar to the one offered by SmartPak. The coverage that Platinum Performance offers is up to $8,000-$10,000 towards colic surgery. To qualify for this coverage you have to administer eligible supplements to your horse on a daily bases, as well as complete an annual wellness exam with your local veterinarian. Platinum Performance supplements are formulated to provide omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals to support total body heath.

For more information and for a detailed list of available supplements, please visit Platinum Performance’s website http://www.platinumperformance.com/EQCO/.

**Please note: any previous colic/abdominal surgery, history of chronic colic, or an incidence of colic in the past twelve months will mark the horse unqualified for the both programs.

Who needs equine insurance? No one. Is this for everyone? No. Ultimately these questions come down to anyone who can not easily afford the unexpected cost of extensive treatments or surgery can benefit from having it. However, there is still an expense associated with either the ColiCare Program or insurance and it is a cost to be economically comfortable with. If this annual expense is something you may be willing to invest into, then these two program options provide a peace of mind if an emergency situation were to occur and life-saving-options will be more easily funded.

Equine Pastern Dermatitis

By: Chelsea Farnsworth, D.V.M.

Equine pastern dermatitis (EPD) is one of the very frustrating syndromes that plagues many horses and their owners. Going by many names such as scratches, mud fever, dew poisoning, greasy heel or canker, equine Scratches1pastern dermatitis often affects the back of white pasterns on hind feet, but can be found on front pasterns as well. While often called a disease, EPD is truly a syndrome with many causes, predisposing factors, and just as many treatment options.

Seen in any season and on any breed, an affected pastern can have a range of signs including redness, matted hair, thick crusts, scales, thickened skin, and discharge. Pain is variable. Mild cases are often limited to redness and some scales with little to none discharge, but severe cases can lead to lameness, swelling of the hind feet, scaring, and proliferation of granulation tissue.

Causes of EPD are varied and are often linked to environmental issues. Horses kept in wet or muddy environments, Draft horses or breeds with feathers, and horses frequently bathed are predisposed. Contact irritation, (ie. from a chemical or new bedding), a weak immune system, or infection from parasites or fungus can start the disease process. Secondary bacterial infection and environmental exposure then perpetuate the problem and makes a definite diagnosis difficult.

Diagnosis of EPD is largely based on the clinical appearance of the affected pasterns. Definitive diagnosis of the primary factor separate from the secondary causes can be difficult. Skin scrapings, which sample the top layer of skin; fungal testing, cytologies, and even a skin biopsy, may be necessary to determine the cause.

While there are many anecdotal and alternative therapies for EPD, the most important part Scratchesof treating is removing the crusts and scabs. To get these off, washing with a mild soap such as Ivory may be necessary, as well as, clipping feathers or thicker hair. This step is often painful but necessary in order to get to the underlying skin.

Once the scabs are washed off, which may take several washings, various topical medications can be applied to combat the primary cause. Removing the scabs can be painful to the horse and a sweat wrap applied after application of a topical ointment may help in softening the crusts, making them easier to remove. Various antifungals, antimicrobials, and anti-inflammatories many be prescribed by your veterinarian and applied topically. Systemic medications, such as antibiotics, may be used if the EPD is severe.

Long term management relies heavily on environmental management; including: keeping the horse in a clean, dry stall during very wet weather, managing mud during the spring, and keeping feathers clipped short on draft-type breeds.

EPD, while frustrating, can be managed and working closely with your veterinarian will help in resolving this irritating syndrome.