A standard neurologic exam for horses
Many horse owners notice gate abnormalities or strange compulsive behavior in their horse and call their vet. In some cases the vet will recommend a neurologic exam. What does this mean? What is a ‘neurologic test’? What is the test trying to find?
Your vet has most likely ruled out physical lameness so he/she wants to do a neurologic test to either discover or rule out any neuro issues your horse might be experiencing. A Neuro test usually consists of 3 parts: observation, a physical exam with several steps and lab tests. These steps are trying to figure out #1 if a neurologic problem exists and #2 where the problem is stemming from. Once a neurologic disorder is either ruled out or diagnosed, it is easier to find a therapeutic plan to help your horse recover or manage its disease.
The first step is the standard observation is watching your horse in its environment usually in his stall or paddock. Your veterinarian will want to watch the way that your horse moves in the paddock or stall. How he walks. Does he trip or stumble? Does he seem to have impaired vision? Does he press his head against the stall wall? Does he circle compulsively?
If anything abnormal is seen, the vet will most likely move on to the physical examination. This phase evaluates the horse’s head, head position, eye function and reflexes. Usually the vet will observe how the horse chews, tongue movement and retraction. Other cranial nerve observation may include watching for: head tilting,jaw deviation, weak eyelid function, drooping of an ear or both ears, abnormal eye reaction such as not flinching or not having a response to bright light.
The next stage is to continue from teeth to tail examining the horse checking nerve reflexes, flinching, abnormal sweating or muscle atrophy. The nerve reflexes are observed carefully to see if they have an excessive reaction (hyperesthesia) or no reaction. Both could be signs on neurologic dysfunction. If performing a thorough neuro exam, the vet will also look for abnormal wear on the toes of your horse’s hooves from dragging a leg or unexplained cuts or scrapes which could be caused from seizures happening when there is no observation.
The vet will then do a gate assessment as the third part of the physical exam. Usually the vet will ask you to walk, trot and lead your horse in a tight circle. This is testing the agility and balance of the horse as well as the symmetry of the gate and posture. The steps will start fairly easily and then build to more complicated requests such as backing up, serpentine and walking up and down curbs. If a neurologic condition is suspected, your vet may prescribe treatment or further lab examination. The most common ancillary tests include x-rays of the cervical spine, a myelogram, and a cerebrospinal fluid analysis.
A supplement to combat neurologic diseases is the DePaolo Equine Concepts Neuro Kit. This kit consists of three key supplements to combat the potentially permanent negative effects resulting from neurologic dieases. The cornerstone of the kit is the natural anti-infective Colloidal Silver. It helps the horse fight off organisms that may be infecting the spinal cord. The second piece of the kit is a powerful immune booster, ABC’s Chvel, which assists in combating the disease causing the neurologic dysfunction. The third nutraceutical, ABC’s EPM Supplement, is used to regenerate damaged nerves and improve nerve impulses.
This kit may be used in conjuction with other prescribed treatment protocols.
My hunter gelding Psymon flunked a neurological exam. Initially, I treated him with the EPM drugs my local veterinarian recommended. The results didn’t last. After talking with Dr. Mark, I supplemented Psymon with 2 rounds of the Neuro Kit. The lack of muscle tone and sensitivity have greatly diminished. He knows where his hind feet are now. He is back to work. My trainer and I are both very pleased with his performance. Kelly Carpenter – WA
4 piece kit $229 for a 45 day supply (Includes 2 gallons of Colloidal Silver, 1 bucket of ABC Chvel, 1 tub of ABC EMP Supplement)
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as Dr. DePaolo diagnosing your horse’s health. DePaolo Equine Concepts, Inc. recommends that you consult your regular veterinarian regarding specific health concerns. Neurologic examinations may vary from veterinarian to veterinarian. The above explanation is only to be used a guideline of what to expect.