By Horsetalk

When it starts to rain and doesn’t know when to stop, horse owners need to be on the lookout for potential animal health issues related to flooding and wet weather.

Hoof problems, insect-borne diseases and toxic forages are just a few potential hazards to consider when it comes to the health of horses, Texas veterinarian Dr. Terry Hensley says.

Speaking following flooding throughout Texas in recent weeks, Hensley, assistant director of the laboratory and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service veterinarian, College Station, says many health issues arise when there is a lot of water around.

“When you have this much rain, it disturbs the soil and brings a host of bacterial spores, like clostridium, to the surface, which can then be washed from pasture to pasture.”

Foot issues can arise in horses, Hensley says. Horses in wet, muddy pastures have the increased chance of developing a hoof abscess. Hensley says horses that show signs of lameness should be examined by a veterinarian to determine the extent of possible infection.

Other potential problems from excessive rain for consecutive days without shelter can be crusty, scaly skin. There’s also the risk of pastern dermatitis.

Forages, such as Johnsongrass and sorghum species, should also be monitored for problems such as prussic acid and nitrate levels. Johnsongrass can grow quickly due to excessive moisture, and when extreme heat follows after excessive moisture, nitrates can build up in grasses. Producers baling hay are advised to obtain hay samples.

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» Fact sheet on animal health during floods

 The lab at Texas A&M can also test forages and hay for high levels of prussic acid or nitrate. How to send samples.