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Veterinary advances for horses

Since 1959, Morris Animal Foundation has invested in more than 350 equine health studies for a total of nearly $13 million. Here are some of the significant health advances that have occurred for horses because of our funding.

Discovery of Inherited Diseases: Foundation-funded studies provided important information that was used to sequence the equine genome and develop genetic tools that have helped identify the causes of inherited diseases. They’ve also discovered the suspected chromosomal locations for genes contributing to polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM, a form of tying-up), cribbing, lordosis and other diseases. Foundation-funded grants also determined that recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (another form of tying-up), is inherited in Thoroughbreds.

Nutritional Management of Muscle Cramping: Funding over the past 20 years has led to better management of polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) through nutrition and exercise. The studies also determined that type 1 PSSM is genetic and primarily affects quarter horses, draft horses and warmbloods.

Tests for inherited diseases: Research led to tests to detect carriers of lavender foal syndrome, a fatal inherited disease of Arabian foals, and combined immunodeficiency disease, an inherited disease that inhibits a foal’s ability to fight infection. These tests are helping to breed out disease.

Pain Relief Options for Horses: Several studies proved the pain-relieving effects of acupuncture and electroacupuncture. Another study developed a technique that uses catheters to alleviate pain in the equine forelimb and may be particularly beneficial in conditions such as laminitis. Researchers learned that a commonly used pain reliever impedes the intestinal repair process in horses that have undergone colic surgery, indicating that the drug should be used sparingly. These studies have improved pain management for horses.

Novel Therapy for Eye Cancer: Researchers developed a novel approach that uses photodynamic therapy to successfully treat a type of cancer that affects the eye in horses.