Research News: “Shock” Proud Flesh, Grooming Stimulates Nerves, Signs of Poisoning

“Shock” Proud Flesh

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy, or ESWT, developed from the use of sound waves to dissolve kidney stones in people. The original mode was adapted to work on plantar fascitis and heel spurs in people.? Equine veterinarians and researchers have used this therapy to help horses, particularly for tendon problems. Now this mode of therapy may help wound healing in horses

According to the February 2 American Journal of Veterinary Research,? researchers from the Veterinary College at Guelph in Canada and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Sao Jose dos Pinhais in Brazil, designed a study to look at wound healing. Wound healing, especially on the lower part of horses? limbs, can be problematic.?The development of over-exuberant granulation tissue, commonly called proud flesh, can present many problems for horses and their owners. The study specifically looked at growth factors and biochemical signals between cells that might be influenced by ESWT.

Proud flesh tends to have high levels of TGF-B1, which encourages extra connective tissue. This study showed that using ESWT as part of the therapy for wounds on the lower leg could help in both healing time and minimizing granulation tissue or proud flesh.

The take home message for you’ If your horse has a bad wound on his lower limb, especially if it is in an area where proud flesh could interfere with his future work, you might want to consider asking your veterinarian about EWST to aid in the healing process.?

Grooming May Stimulate Pleasure Nerves

On the just-for-fun front, Nature published an interesting study from the California Institute of Technology. Researchers found nerve fibers in the haired skin of mice that are activated by stroking and associated with pleasure reactions to the stroking.

This could explain why horses enjoy being groomed. Massage and stroking actions could activate these nerves that give off a feeling of pleasure. Certainly most horses enjoy a thorough grooming and will lean into the curry combs. This could also explain why horses will groom each other as a social interaction. Nice to know that you’re making your horse happy as you work! See more at

Slow Poisoning

The word ?poisoning? may make you think of a really sick horse on death?s door. But, in real life the most common problem is from slowly eating a toxic plant. The symptoms may vary and be subtle:

  • Behavior changes.
  • Changes in urine or manure.
  • Colic or salivation.
  • Change in activity.
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coat/skin changes
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Unexplained leg problems.

If good grass is abundant, most horses avoid toxic plants, like buttercups. But when grazing is minimal, they may try them. If grazing is scarce in your turnout, check online

or with your local cooperative extension service for potentially toxic plants in your area.

Article by Deb Eldredge, DVM, Contributing Veterinary Editor

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