September 16, 2008 | | Comments 0

Equine Tying-Up Syndrome



Equine Tying-Up Syndrome

Tying-up is the layman term for exertional rhadomyolysis. Other synonyms include: azoturia, paralytic myoglobinuria, exertional myopathy, cording-up, and Monday morning disease. Despite the numerous names, this condition is traced to muscle problems associated with either nutrition (metabolic factors) and/or exercise. Although it affects horses of all ages and both sexes, the condition is seen more in thoroughbred horses.

Causes of Tying-Up

The actual cause of tying-up is still unknown although it is directly linked to forced exercise after a lay-up period when a horse is allowed to rest and in cases when there is excessive feed energy consumption.

Predisposing factors are the following:

  • · Sporadic or irregular exercise regimen
  • · Nutritional causes include excess carbohydrates in the diet, abnormal fat metabolism, reduction in glycolytic enzymes, vitamin E and/or selenium deficiencies
  • · Hormonal disturbances such as hypothyroidism
  • · Electrolyte imbalances (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium)
  • · Stress
  • · Other causes (e.g. viral infections)

Tying-Up Symptoms

Tying-up is commonly detected in horses when they are exercised after a lay-up period. After a few minutes of light exercise or after a horse has finished a particularly hard training session, an animal with azoturia will display locomotive signs such as altered gait, muscle stiffness especially in the hindquarters, rigidity of the back, muscle trembling, hesitation to move, and collapse. Other symptoms include excessive sweating, rapid pulse, laminitis, and myoglobinuria as indicated by brown-colored urine in severe instances.

Treatment of Tying-Up

If the horse shows signs of tying-up shortly after the commencement of exercise, it should not be moved and should be made to remain standing. The handler should dry off the animal and cover the hindlegs with a blanket while waiting for the veterinarian. If the horse ties-up after having been exercised hard, rest it as soon as possible under a shade to alleviate severed exhaustion and normalize pulse. Keep the animal standing. Wash its legs with cold water to prevent further overheating. Make the animal drink an electrolyte solution. Administrations of vitamin E and selenium via injection are reported to help many animals.

Attentive nursing care is imperative for the horse’s recovery. The horse should be kept as content and as quiet as possible to avoid unnecessary excitement. A veterinarian may administer sedative or tranquilizers to appease restlessness if required. If the horse is recumbent, take precautionary actions against decubitus (“bedsores”) development. A recumbent horse also is prone to have difficulty defecating. Thus, laxatives may be given to facilitate bowel movement.

Tying-Up Prognosis

Recovery relies on the severity of the muscle damaged. If an animal manages to stay standing, the prognosis is good. If the animal losses the use of their hindlegs but remains quiet and its pulse has returned to normal after a day, prognosis is fairly good. Yet there are unfortunate cases that even survivors eventually develop muscle atrophy, either permanent or sporadic. Recovered horses may also suffer from lameness.

Prognosis is poor for an animal that is no longer able to stand up and have become restless and nervous despite the administration of sedatives. Continued weakening of pulse is also another critical sign indicating poor recovery.

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Filed Under: Horse Health

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