Vet Services Hawkes Bay Ltd

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Richard McKenzie

The transportation of horse to events in NZ [such as HOY] is commonplace but in saying that it needs to be managed to maximise athletic performance, and minimise the risk of any negative impact on horse health. After all it is a long expensive and disappointing trip to an event to have your horse perform below their best.

Road transport can be detrimental to horse's lungs, muscles, gut function and weight


Generally in transit the horses head cannot get down to allow for the natural drainage of secretions and this contributes to increased bacterial counts in airways.

The contamination by dust during transport and also when truck is stopped/refuelling results in a high bacterial insult and occasionally this can result in pleuropneumonia or "Shipping Fever' which potentially can be fatal.


The work of maintaining stability while in transit is not negligible and probably equivalent to the work of constant walking. A wide based stance-the head and neck raised-greater weight being borne on hindlegs can all contribute to increased muscle enzymes [muscle soreness] and energy deficits after a long trip


Transport obviously disrupts routines and decreases in feed and water intake can result in weight loss and dehydration.

A 7 hour trip is estimated to result in bodyweight loss of 2-3% [500kg horse =15kg}

To recover 5% bodyweight after travel can take longer than a week!

Bodyweight improvement depends on horse temperament/experience/amount of loss/length of trip and environmental changes with heat and humidity.


The change of routine and diet increases the risk of colic and disrupting hindgut flora which can lead to changes in digestibility [minor].....  to surgery [major]!!

Ulcers have been shown to develop within1.5hours of travel


 Only travel horses with good respiratory health

  • Monitor rectal temperature pre- and post- travel
  • Any cough/ nasal discharge should be investigated [clinical exam/+/-scope/bloods/ tracheal wash] and treated
  • Introduce any new diet feed at least 1-2weeks prior to trip
  • Ulcer management. Omeprazole ideally 7d prior to trip but even just day of to help maintain appetite during and after travel
  • Antibiotic use is controversial as it has been shown that it does not reduce the bacteria count in lower airways prophylactically but discuss further with your veterinarian as circumstances will vary
  • Weighing horses before transit and upon arrival can help determine dehydration
  • Stomach tubing fluids is helpful for mild dehydration but Intravenous fluids is best for large deficits or more severe dehydration
  • Blood tests can be helpful if any depression/loss of appetite or elevated temperature occurs




Read more >Thursday 8th of March 2018: Alfie is a 22 year old Kaimanawa gelding who had the misfortune of getting the wrong end of a stick during a wind-storm.

He presented with acute right eye pain – eyelids tightly closed with profuse tearing.

Attention all rabbit owners – are your rabbits up to date with their vaccination??

Read more >Friday 2nd of March 2018:

The Tetanus Grin

Read more >Friday 22nd of December 2017: Tetanus is a condition that is caused by bacteria called, Clostridium tetani. The bacteria infects wounds where there is little to no oxygen and produces a toxin that affects nerves (neurotoxin) in a way that prevents muscles from relaxing, thus causing stiffness.


Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: Mycoplasma Bovis is a bacterial disease affecting cattle.
For more information on the outbreak in the Patoka area- click here. If you have any concerns with regards to your particular situation please get in touch with one of our Veterinarians

Be Aware of Algal Blooms this Summer

Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: At this time of year care needs to be taken with dogs around streams, rivers and lakes due to the possibility of algal blooms.

Heat stroke in dogs

Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: It's this time of year that we are concerned about our furry companions overheating. Any dog is at risk of heat stroke but particularly brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds and dogs with a long or thick hair coat.

That Christmas Ham - More Harmful Than We Thought

Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: This year has raced with speed, and another Christmas is coming up soon. We all know what that means; ham, roast and all sorts to satisfy the taste buds.

Tail Docking and other legislation updates:

Read more >Thursday 5th of October 2017: As of October 2018, the non-therapeutic docking of dogs tails will be prohibited in New Zealand.

Derm Defense

Read more >Tuesday 3rd of October 2017: During the spring and summer months we see a high number of dogs with itchy skin.

In the past, the only way to manage atopy (itchy skin) was through medications such as antihistamines and steroids but Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians have developed a new Prescription Diet specially formulated to help manage environmental sensitivities in dogs.

Vaccinations – what you need to know to make the best decisions for your canine companion

Read more >Tuesday 3rd of October 2017: Vaccinations are designed to prevent your pet from contracting diseases. We have a few different vaccines available in NZ based on what diseases pose a risk to your dog.

Flea products – What’s out there now?

Read more >Wednesday 27th of September 2017: It seems like companies are bringing out new flea products every few months these days, and even we find it hard to keep up! Here is an overview of the products we have in store.

Drenching your horse

Read more >Thursday 27th of July 2017: Some horse owners are still drenching their animals on a six to eight weekly basis regardless of age or worm burden. This was a traditional approach which is outdated and possibly detrimental in terms of developing resistance to drenches.


Read more >Thursday 27th of July 2017: The first five years of a horse's life are critical in regards to dental development. Like us, horses have two sets of teeth, the deciduous being shed from about two and a half years until the permanent teeth have erupted at around five years.

Kennel Cough

Read more >Tuesday 11th of July 2017: Kennel Cough (also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough at places where large amounts of dogs accumulate, such as boarding and daycare facilities and dog parks.

Dental Disease

Read more >Tuesday 11th of July 2017: As our pets age dental disease can start to set in. We often start noticing signs from around the age of 5 (which equates to around 35 in human years). Dental disease can affect the internal organs and the overall health of your pet. There are some measures you can take to help slow or prolong the effects of dental disease at home.

Is your pet visiting our clinic soon for a procedure?

Read more >Friday 23rd of June 2017: It is important to Vet Services that you understand what happens to your pet when they come to us for surgery. We appreciate that you may feel anxious leaving your pet and we hope the following will help ease any concern you may have.

Let it Flow

Read more >Friday 23rd of June 2017: A common emergency condition that we see at a vet clinic is the cat with a 'blocked bladder' (urethral obstruction). They often present to us as a cat that is in pain due to an unknown cause. The owner may find them hiding in the garden or under a bed and suspect that the cat has had some sort of trauma.

Pet rabbits

Read more >Friday 23rd of June 2017: In recent weeks we have been presented with several cases of rabbit haemorrhagic diseases. This is a viral condition which is unfortunately deadly to pet bunnies.

Pet Insurance

Read more >Friday 23rd of June 2017: Many people know the importance of insuring their items, their house or car, even their own health. Fortunately we are also able to insure pets, for not only medical and surgical care but in some cases routine visits can be covered (including vaccinations and wellness checks/blood tests).

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