Large Animal Services - Equine Clinic
While most of our patients are referred to the VMTH by veterinarians in private practice, many of our regularly-scheduled and emergency services are also available to horse owners without referral. In either case, we request that you make an appointment or, in the case of emergencies, call ahead to let us know you are coming, so that we can provide you and your horse with service in a timely manner. We greatly value the role that your veterinarian plays in maintaining the health of your horses and we strive to develop a strong working relationship and open communication with him or her as partners in the provision of high quality veterinary care. We will discuss our findings with your veterinarian, provide regular updates regarding the status of your horse during hospitalization, and communicate recommendations for continued treatment and follow-up care once your horse leaves our hospital.
Full Service Care
Critical and Intensive Care: Critical and intensive care is available to any patient that will benefit from constant monitoring and advanced management. Veterinarians with clinical expertise in critical care direct the hour-by-hour management of these patients. Highly trained teams of ICU nurses staff the three intensive care unit (ICU) facilities around the clock at a ratio of one nurse to every two patients. These specialized staff and facilities maximize the quality of patient care, while minimizing the risk of infection in these vulnerable and critically ill patients.
Critical and Intensive Care
Faculty and resident veterinarians in the Equine Medicine and Dentistry service accurately diagnose and treat horses with disorders of the teeth, mouth, or sinuses that may affect proper digestion of food or control while being ridden under saddle. Routine and advanced dental procedures including floating of cheek teeth to remove sharp points, reduction of overgrown teeth to balance the mouth, periodontal prophylaxis, restorations, and tooth extractions are performed. Hand-held or motorized instruments are used for floating and tooth reduction. When extraction of teeth is necessary, the preferred approach is to perform the extraction under sedation with the horse standing. When standing extraction is not possible, or is judged not to be appropriate for a particular patient, surgical extraction under general anesthesia is pursued. Detailed imaging techniques such as CT scanning of the teeth and sinuses are available to help our clinicians accurately define which teeth are diseased if this remains in doubt after a thorough oral examination and radiographic study.
Emergency services are available 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Emergency and Critical Care services work with skilled emergency nurses to provide specialized medical, surgical, anesthetic, and obstetrical expertise for the evaluation and management of horses with life-threatening conditions. Colic, wounds, orthopedic injuries, trauma, respiratory difficulty, dystocia (foaling difficulty), high-risk pregnancy, foal diseases, and acute neurologic or other life-threatening disorders are a few examples of the many problems managed by our dedicated team of emergency clinicians and nurses.
Equine Sports Medicine
Equine Sports Medicine
In-depth evaluations of horses with respiratory, cardiac, musculoskeletal, and metabolic causes of poor performance or exercise intolerance are performed in the Claire Giannini Hoffman Equine Athletic Performance Laboratory. This program features the collaboration of specialists throughout the hospital in a state-of-the art facility equipped with two high-speed treadmills, a video motion analysis system, and advanced monitoring capabilities, including electrocardiogram (ECG), cardiac ultrasound, airway endoscopy and blood analysis.
Experienced farriers at the VMTH provide routine and therapeutic (corrective) hoof care and shoeing services to horses. Our farriers work side-by-side with our veterinarians to customize the management of challenging shoeing and lameness problems, and to help prevent the development of future problems. Appointments for farrier services are also available to clients who do not have horses hospitalized in the VMTH.
The most critically ill patients treated at our hospital are the neonatal foals. Care for these patients is provided by our team of dedicated and highly trained faculty, resident veterinarians, and nurses. The intensive management and supportive care of these patients is provided in a specialized intensive care unit (ICU) facility, the Lucy Whittier Neonatal ICU Unit. Customized stalls are used to pad and support sick foals, allowing intensive management under the watchful eye of the mare in an adjoining stall.
Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Equine Surgery and Lameness services perform complete evaluations on horses of all types with a variety of lameness or performance problems. Lameness evaluations include a detailed physical examination and careful observation of the horse in motion. Flexion tests and local anesthetic diagnostic nerve or joint blocks are typically used to localize the source of lameness. More elusive lameness problems may benefit from the use of nuclear scintigraphy as a screening tool to narrow down their origin. Once the lameness is localized, imaging techniques such as radiographs, ultrasound, CT or MRI may then be used to definitively diagnose the underlying problem and to determine the optimal approach to management and treatment of the lameness.
Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Equine Medicine Services perform complete diagnostic evaluations and deliver advanced patient care and treatment to horses with a variety of infectious and non-infectious medical disorders involving many body systems. Our internal medicine specialists avail themselves of the VMTH's extensive laboratory and advanced imaging services as they direct patient evaluation and treatment. In addition, the following are some of the many diagnostic techniques our clinicians may use to definitively diagnose problems in equine patients:
- spinal fluid (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) collection
- sampling of body cavities, joints, sinuses, and bone marrow
- transtracheal wash (TTW) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)
- biopsy of skin, masses, internal organs, and muscle
- electrophysiology testing, including electrocardiography (ECG), electromyography (EMG), electroencephalography (EEG), and brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER).
Equine Field Service
Equine Field Service
Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Equine Field Service unit provide scheduled and emergency on-farm care to horses within a defined local practice area through our 24-hour mobile veterinary service. Preventive health care and herd health maintenance, through routine vaccinations and dentistry, are emphasized, but our clinicians also address many health problems involving all body systems in the field. Lameness examinations, prepurchase examinations, medical and reproductive evaluations, and minor surgeries, are among the many services offered. In addition, diagnostic procedures such as radiography, ultrasound, and endoscopy, are performed routinely. Our Field Service veterinarians can also access more advanced diagnostic and specialized services by direct referral and transfer of cases to colleagues at the VMTH.
Prepurchase Exam Full
Prepurchase Exam Full
A prepurchase examination involves a comprehensive assessment of a horse prior to purchase, with the goal of identifying underlying problems that may limit the future performance or value of the horse. Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Equine Surgery and Lameness services typically perform these evaluations. They may use a variety of advanced diagnostic techniques to supplement their detailed examination and lameness evaluation in order to provide a reasoned opinion regarding the suitability of the horse for its intended use.
Faculty and resident veterinarians in our Equine Reproduction service provide routine and advanced reproductive care to patients at the hospital and, through our on-farm service, to local horse breeders. Our reproduction specialists perform routine reproductive soundness evaluation of mares, diagnostic work-ups on infertile mares, artificial insemination, ultrasonographic pregnancy diagnosis, twin reduction, pregnant mare care, obstetrics, and foaling management. In addition, our clinicians manage mares experiencing dystocia (difficult foaling), working in close collaboration with veterinarians specializing in surgery, neonatology, critical patient care, and anesthesia. Services provided for stallions include fertility evaluation, investigation of infertility, stallion breeding management, semen collection and evaluation, preparation and shipment of cooled semen, and freezing of semen. Available advanced reproductive technologies include embryo transfer as well as collection and freezing of epididymal sperm.
Click here to visit the Reproduction site
A wide range of soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries are performed on horses at the VMTH. Our surgical faculty and resident veterinarians carefully evaluate patients in order to reach an accurate diagnosis and determine the best approach to treatment of the problem. If surgery is judged to be the best option, our surgeons provide the most advanced surgical techniques available, including minimally invasive approaches such as arthroscopy, laparoscopy, thoracoscopy, lithotripsy, and endoscopic laser surgery. Decisions regarding the surgical approaches and techniques to be used, either traditional or minimally invasive, are always made with the goal of optimizing patient outcome.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) are now being offered at the UC Davis Large Animal Hospital as an adjunctive clinical service to inpatients and outpatients. Acupuncture and TCVM can easily be integrated into conventional diagnostic and treatment modalities to optimize clinical outcome.
Anesthesia and Pain Management
Anesthesia and Pain Management
Safe anesthesia of large animal patients requires a comprehensive and customized approach to each patient. Our experienced team of specialized anesthesia clinicians and technicians determine the best approach for each patient by combining pain management strategies with up-to-date techniques and individually managed , supervised recoveries. This innovative group anesthetizes a wide variety of large animal species and provides invaluable expertise for the management of chronic or severe pain in non-anesthetized patients throughout the hospital.
Animal behavior is important in maintaining a healthy relationship between owners and their animals. Our behavior specialists are also experienced horse people who provide consultations to owners and veterinarians seeking solutions to behavior problems in horses. Our veterinarians have helped horse owners successfully address a wide range of equine behavior problems including headshaking, head tossing, trailering and loading difficulties, stall kicking, bucking, aggression, self-mutilation, narcolepsy, needle shyness, cribbing and weaving. During the examination or consultation, the animalâ€™s history, environment, feeding, behavior, responsiveness, and nature are evaluated to determine the underlying reasons for the behavior and to plan approaches for resolution of the problem.
Heart problems can be present at birth or may develop later in life. These problems can manifest in several ways including poor performance, intolerance of exercise, presence of a heart murmur, irregular heartbeats, distended veins, poor growth, weakness, or collapse. Accurate diagnosis of heart diseases typically requires advanced diagnostic techniques such as electrocardiography (ECG), echocardiology, color flow Doppler, angiography, cardiac catheterization, and blood testing. Our specialized Veterinary Cardiologists use these techniques in large animal patients as part of the in-depth evaluation needed to determine the underlying problem and to recommend appropriate treatment. Detection of subtle heart problems in performance horses may require evaluation of the heart while the horse is exercised on one of the high -speed treadmills in the Claire Giannini Hoffman Equine Athletic Performance Laboratory.
Skin diseases are a frustrating and common problem in large animals. Horses suffer a wide range of skin conditions including allergic reactions, reactions to insects and parasites, hair loss, skin infections, and immune-mediated skin diseases. Our specialist dermatology faculty and resident veterinarians use a number of tests including skin scrapes or biopsies, intradermal skin testing, and blood tests to help them reach an accurate diagnosis and prescribe effective treatments and approaches to management.
Our Veterinary Genetics specialists provide consultations to clients who own horses and other large animals with suspected inherited diseases. Our veterinarians are able to utilize the expertise and technology at the Veterinary Genetic Laboratory to perform DNA and chromosomal testing to help diagnose genetic diseases.
Management of cancer in large animals presents several unique challenges to clinicians. Improving patient outcome and enhancing quality of life while realistically addressing owner expectations are important considerations in the treatment of large animal patients with cancer. Our oncology specialists provide comprehensive diagnostic services to accurately identify the type of cancer and guide decisions regarding therapeutic options. The individualized therapeutic plan may include surgery, local or systemic chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy, or combinations of these approaches.
A variety of eye diseases occur commonly in horses and other large animal species. Since all eye conditions are potentially a threat to normal vision, veterinary assistance should be sought as soon as an animal owner suspects that an eye problem may be present. While many problems such as conjunctivitis and superficial ulcers can be treated successfully in the field, our specialized Veterinary Ophthalmologists provide invaluable services for the accurate diagnosis and successful treatment of a range of common and rare eye diseases. They use advanced techniques and instruments to examine the eye and determine the optimal treatment, with the goal of maximizing the chances of preserving vision. Our ophthalmologists have special expertise in the treatment of eye injuries, corneal ulcers, infections, tumors, glaucoma, cataracts, and other internal eye diseases such as recurrent uveitis (moon blindness or periodic ophthalmia).
Pharmaceutical Services provide systems based services including drug procurement, drug preparation, drug distribution, drug information, and drug dosage monitoring services for all patients seen at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH). All veterinary orders/prescriptions for medications are reviewed for appropriateness of therapy and entered into a pharmacy database. This database is available to veterinarians 24 hours/day and provides all prescription information. A central distribution area (the Main Pharmacy VMTH) and a Satellite Pharmacy (Center for Companion Animal Health) support the delivery of product-related and clinical services to patients and other veterinary health care providers of the VMTH and to veterinarians and others at other locations.
The Anatomic Pathology Service provides comprehensive professional necropsy and biopsy diagnostic services while educating future pathologists and veterinarians. The Anatomic Pathology Service includes highly-qualified, board-certified pathologists and residents in one of the nation's largest veterinary anatomic pathology residency programs.
Clinical Laboratory Services
Clinical Laboratory Services
The Clinical Laboratory Services of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital support our hospital's veterinarians as well as veterinarians of California, the United States and other countries. Tests take place in several locations at the hospital for hospital patients, outpatients and cases from referring veterinarians. We also perform testing for scientists working on special projects and studies. Laboratory test results help your veterinarian maintain your pet's health and, when your pet is sick, make a diagnosis so that treatment can begin. Early diagnosis helps assure that appropriate treatment takes place quickly.
The VMTH is equipped with a GE Helical Computed Tomography (CT) unit, which has a customized table capable of supporting anesthetized animals weighing up to 1700 pounds. This high speed and precise machine is capable of capturing detailed 3-dimensional images of the legs, head and upper neck of the horse, thereby providing diagnostic information that cannot be obtained using other imaging techniques. By pioneering the use of contrast CT, our staff radiologists have further enhanced our diagnostic capabilities, allowing us to detect injuries and abnormalities that were not previously detectable using other imaging techniques.
Endoscopy is a diagnostic technology that uses fiber-optic telescopes and cables, miniaturized cameras, and video microchips to permit internal evaluation of respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary, and reproductive organs. Several snake-like endoscopes in different lengths and diameters are available to clinicians at the VMTH for use in the diagnostic evaluation of equine patients. The most commonly used endoscope is 1 meter in length and is used to examine the nasal passages, throat, airway, upper esophagus, and urinary or reproductive tracts. A narrow, pediatric endoscope is used for foals, ponies, and small horses, and a long, 3-meter endoscope specially made for use in horses enables us to examine the interior of the stomach for diagnosis of gastric ulcers and other diseases.
State-of-the-art clinical laboratories provide advanced diagnostic support to our faculty and referring veterinarians. Routine tests, including complete blood counts, biochemistry panels, urinalysis, and bacterial cultures, are readily available. Specialized diagnostic tests include immunology to detect antibodies against different diseases, such as Equine Protozoal Myelitis (EPM), strangles (Streptococcus equi), and pigeon fever (Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis); virology to diagnose viral infections; endocrinology to assess hormone imbalances; and histopathology to look for signs of disease in biopsies and tissue samples. Blood typing and cross-matching are available to screen and select blood donors for transfusions. Therapeutic drug monitoring is available to closely tailor drug dosages to each patient. The veterinarians in the Lucy Whittier Molecular and Diagnostic Core Facility are developing and applying the use of real-time TaqMan PCR testing to rapidly and accurately diagnose animal diseases. The Neuromuscular Diseases Laboratory uses a variety of techniques to diagnose disorders affecting muscles or nervous system in all species.
Equine Blood Typing Information
The standing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) unit creates images of the lower limb, and is particularly useful for evaluating soft tissue injuries. MRI is not useful as a screening tool, but can provide important diagnostic information for problems that have been accurately localized during a lameness examination. During a standing MRI, the horse is sedated, but remains standing, and the horseshoe-shaped magnet is positioned around the leg. Horses that are candidates for MRI must be healthy enough to tolerate prolonged sedation (more than an hour) and be able to bear weight and stand still for the duration of the procedure.
Nuclear scintigraphy, also known as bone scanning, is a useful diagnostic tool to screen or localize subtle or elusive bone lesions, such as stress fractures or degenerative changes in the spine or limbs. A radioactive compound that binds to bone is administered intravenously, and a gamma camera attached to a computer is then used to scan the horse for localization of the radiation ("hot spots"), indicating bone injury. The radioactive substance does not harm the horse and is quickly removed by the body through the urine. Although nuclear scintigraphy does not specifically diagnose the underlying problem, it provides important information that is helpful in determining the need for further diagnostic tests and in guiding management.
Radiology is one of the most important procedures used in the diagnostic evaluation of horses presented to all services of the VMTH. Our specialist radiologists and highly skilled technical staff use stationary and portable x-ray equipment to produce detailed diagnostic studies of the abdomen, head, chest, neck, stifle, shoulder, and all parts of the lower limbs. Contrast studies, including myelograms, fistulograms, and barium studies, are performed routinely. Our modern equipment captures radiographic images digitally, allowing further enhancement, computerized storage, and electronic transmission of images.
Large Animal Ultrasound
Large Animal Ultrasound
Experienced ultrasound specialists use state-of-the-art equipment to provide a complete range of ultrasound imaging services. Many of the ultrasound studies are performed to examine tendons, ligaments, and joints as part of the comprehensive evaluation of horses with lameness or performance problems. In-depth imaging of abdominal or thoracic organs as part of the evaluation of horses with chronic colic, weight loss, suspected tumors, or diseases of the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, bladder and other organs, constitute an important and expanding part of the services provided. In addition, our ultrasound specialists perform ultrasound-guided aspiration or biopsy of abnormalities in order to provide accurate samples for further diagnostic testing to confirm the diagnosis.
Diagnostic Ultrasound & Musculoskeletal Injuries in Horses
Large Animal Ultrasound Internship
Specialized Therapies & Programs
Advanced Fracture Repair
Advanced Fracture Repair
Orthopedic injuries can be devastating to large animal patients. In addition to traditional fracture repair techniques, our large animal surgery specialists use state-of-the-art advanced orthopedic techniques. These include pioneering the use of the Accu-trak screw in horses and applying the advantages of the locking compression plate to fracture repair. These techniques minimize irritation to nearby structures, while maximizing repair strength and improving the healing response. Our orthopedic surgeons are continually seeking new ways to improve the success rate and outcome for horses with these life-threatening injuries.
The high speed treadmills in the Claire Giannini Hoffman Equine Athletic Performance Laboratory are used to evaluate and diagnose problems that occur during exercise. These state-of-the-art treadmills allow our veterinarians to assess and monitor a horseâ€™s breathing, heart, and muscle function while it is being exercised at speeds up to a full gallop. Our high-speed treadmills are unique in their ability to allow the horses to exercise on uphill or downhill inclines, and in their ability to gather information about the forces exerted by the horsesâ€™ hooves as they strike the ground during exercise.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally Invasive Surgery
In addition to using standard surgical techniques, our equine surgery specialists use minimally invasive surgical techniques to decrease recovery time, improve healing, decrease complications, and speed return to normal activity. Minimally invasive surgical techniques include arthroscopy, laparoscopy, thoracoscopy, lithotripsy, and endoscopic laser surgery. These procedures involve the use of a miniaturized video camera and specialized instruments that allow very detailed examination and treatment of internal structures. Arthroscopy allows removal of bone chips and cartilage flaps within joints. Laparoscopy is used to diagnose and treat problems that occur in the abdomen, and can include removal of retained testicles, removal of normal or abnormal ovaries, evaluation of chronic colic, and biopsy of various abdominal organs. Endoscopic laser surgery can be used to treat problems in the upper respiratory tract and esophagus or treat cysts inside the uterus.
Oncology experts perform radiation therapy using a state-of-the-art, linear accelerator that is designed to accommodate large animals. The advantages of this new facility include precision-targeted treatment of tumors, which minimizes the duration of the procedure and reduces undesirable side effects to associated tissues. This treatment option represents an important advance in cancer therapy.
Shock Wave Therapy
Shock Wave Therapy
Shock wave therapy is used to deliver focused pressure waves to an injury to help stimulate healing. Injuries that may benefit from shock wave therapy include suspensory ligament injuries, tendon injuries, osteoarthritis, bony reactions, and navicular problems. This treatment is applied directly to the injured area in the standing, sedated horse.
Faculty and technicians at the VMTH have been instrumental in developing the Anderson Sling, the UC Davis Large Animal Lift, and the UC Davis Large Animal Skid. While the Anderson Sling is famous for its use in helicopter rescues of horses, this sling also greatly improves the management of weak or "down" large animals on the ground. The hospital is equipped with hoists that are strong enough to lift draft horses, and has personnel who are trained in the safe and efficient use of our Anderson slings. Horses that have neurological problems such as spinal cord, trauma or weakness due to other causes are often unable to rise or bear weight on their limbs. The use of slings to encourage these horses to stand is often an essential part of the treatment needed to promote their recovery. Similarly, provision of long-term sling support may be necessary to allow horses with severe musculoskeletal injuries to recover. At the VMTH, we also perform "sling recoveries" on occasion in order to reduce the risk of injury in selected horses during recovery from general anesthesia. The recently developed Large Animal Skid greatly facilitates extraction and loading of down horses onto a trailer for transportation to a referral hospital where they can be evaluated and treated. The skid is also invaluable for unloading and moving down horses. The Large Animal Lift is designed so that it can be applied easily to a down horse to allow it to be lifted into a standing position and supported temporarily while the Anderson sling is applied to provide more prolonged support.
Stem Cell Treatment
Stem Cell Treatment
Stem cells can be obtained from the patient's own fat tissue and used to stimulate healing in another location. This procedure involves collection of a small amount of fat beside the tail, which is then sent to a laboratory that retrieves and concentrates the stem cells. These stem cells are then returned to the hospital, where they can be injected into an injured tissue to stimulate and promote healing. Injuries that may benefit from stem cell therapy include ligament or tendon injuries, joint injuries, and bone fractures. Our clinicians have further advanced this treatment modality by using CT and ultrasound to guide and accurately direct very specific treatment of the injured area.