DSLD/ESPA – When connective tissues fail
How to have a healthy happy horse.
Volume 21, Number 10
In This Issue:
1. DSLD/ESPA – When connective tissues fail
2. New Mobile Friendly Website at Holistic Horsekeeping
1. DSLD/ESPA – When connective tissues fail
Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis is a devastating condition that presents as dropped or excessively upright pasterns with associated pain and swelling. Although this condition shows up in the lower legs it is a systemic degenerative condition affecting all connective tissues in the body. Recent research has demonstrated an accumulation of proteoglycans in the connective tissues and this has led to the condition being renamed Equine Systemic Proteoglycan Accumulation (ESPA).
DSLD/ESPA presents as an upright form which causes contraction of the ligaments and tendons in the lower leg. The dropped form presents as a fetlock joint that goes to horizontal when the affected leg is weight bearing. The pain associated with the damage to the connective tissues will cause the horse to lean on fences or toughs, dig holes and point the toes down into them or adopt a dog sitting posture when trying to stand after lying down. Eventually horses can become unable to rise and bear any weight on the damaged legs.
DSLD/ESPA is a genetic condition and some believe the gene is dominant so affected horses should never be bred. Symptoms can appear suddenly as a severe lameness or multiple symptoms can develop over a period of time. Affected horses may stumble, stomp legs without signs of flies, pick legs up and stretch them, or bite at their legs. Horses with DSLD/ESPA may have swelling and pain around the fetlock area but pain in the back and hips is also common. In addition to clinical signs, ultrasound can confirm a diagnosis, especially when multiple legs are affected.
Iron overload has been connected with DSLD/ESPA so testing for iron and ferritin levels can be done at Kansas State University. Low magnesium can also be an issue so supplementing can be beneficial.
At this time there is no cure for DSLD/ESPA but the condition can be managed. Controlling pain and swelling with poultices and cold water hosing is one option. Homeopathic remedies, such as Rhus Tox, Ruta, Bryonia or Symphytum can provide relief. Good hoof trimming and continuous turnout are beneficial. Research has demonstrated decreased blood supply to the connective tissues and this can be addressed with a product which increases the nitric oxide levels in the body. A product which increases nitric acid and contains anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids is helpful for horses showing active heat, pain and swelling.
Low sugar diets with balanced minerals appear to limit symptoms and support a healthy gut bacteria population. Probiotics are also helpful. I prefer to use a loading dose of 6 acidophilus in the morning and 6 bifidus in the evening for 10 days followed by 3 each for an additional 30 days, then maintenance with a probiotic/antioxidant/algae combination powder.
There is a new gelatinase test that has been developed to monitor the damage in the connective tissues. This test is done on a fresh sample of manure. You can download the testing form HERE. Gelatinase is an enzyme which is produced by transient, beneficial gut bacteria and it removes damaged connective tissue so new tissue can replace it. This enzyme will be elevated when there is increased damage to connective tissue and it will come back into normal range as the tissues heal.
DSLD/ESPA is a devastating condition that needs more research to determine the best prevention and treatment options. If you have a horse with this condition and would like to participate in a research project you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for Dr. Kellon’s study form.
2. New Mobile Friendly Websiteb at Holistic Horsekeeping
We are very happy to announce that our new website is up and running so be sure to surf on over to www.holistichorsekeeping.com and check it out. One of the great new features is that this site is very mobile friendly making it easy to order your horse products and informational materials right from your Smart phone or tablet. You’ll still find lots of great free resources and quality products just in an easier to locate format. We’d love to have your feedback on what you think of the new site. Be sure to browse through the store and check out some of our new product lines too like Pharm-Aloe aloe vera juice, Ration Plus, Kentucky Performance Products, and U.S. Chia seeds.
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