Researchers Help Horses Stay a Hoof Ahead of Disease


Treating disease in horses is never an easy task. They are large and often headstrong animals with a complicated physiology to match. Although advancements in equine health have made large strides in recent decades, still, no treatment plan is more effective—or less expensive—than preventing disease from happening in the first place. That’s why several recent Morris Animal Foundation–funded studies are focusing on equine disease prevention.

In one study, Dr. Jeffrey C. Phillips, of Lincoln Memorial University, is taking a few notes from the field of canine cancer research to help prevent melanomas in horses—the most common type of tumor in the species. By testing a vaccine already known to be safe and effective in treating melanomas in dogs, Dr. Phillips’s research could provide a new way of treating and preventing the disease in horses.

At the University of Massachusetts, researchers funded by Morris Animal Foundation are developing better tools to help prevent two of the most notorious conditions in horses: laminitis and colic. It’s commonly accepted that a sudden increase of starch in the diet frequently results in laminitis and colic because such quick increases lead to excessive growth of harmful bacteria.

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