Services

The Equine Hospital provides basic and specialist services for both acute and long-term problems.

Our experts carry out examinations and provide treatment together with veterinarians specialising in equine diseases, trained nurses and students.

Information for those arriving at the Equine Hospital about surgical treatment and support services can be found on the page Patients at the Equine Hospital.

Further information on equine welfare and healthcare can be obtained from the Equine Hospital’s publications. The articles have been authored by the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s veterinarians specialised in equine diseases

Dental care

A horse’s mouth should usually be inspected and the teeth rasped at intervals of 6 to 12 months. If a horse has eating difficulties, starts resisting the bit or has other oral symptoms, an appointment for an examination should be booked without delay. The teeth of young horses should be given particular attention. The eruption of permanent teeth at ages 2–5, occlusion problems and wolf teeth can interfere with the bit. A healthy mouth is a basic requirement for positive training experiences for a young horse.

At the Equine Hospital, an oral examination involves sedation, appropriate head support, a bright light and a dental mirror. We often also use an endoscope with a camera and, if necessary, take X-ray images of the teeth. Horses have a finite amount of dental tissue, and their teeth are continuously worn down by chewing. A careful oral examination and well-planned rasping based on individual needs protect the horse’s teeth and ensure that it is able to eat even as it ages.

In addition to routine treatment, the Equine Hospital performs tooth extractions, either while the horse is sedated and standing or under anaesthesia in an operating room.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are part of primary animal healthcare and an easy way of protecting pets against dangerous diseases. Travelling with pets, an increasingly common custom, increases the risk of contagion abroad. In addition to travelling, certain vaccinations are in fact a requirement for shows and competitions. This makes it important to have as many pets as possible appropriately vaccinated.

At the time of vaccination, the pet must be healthy for its body to be able to react to the vaccination and to receive the best possible protection from it. For this reason, a health examination is carried out on animals in conjunction with vaccinations.

Regular revaccination is important to ensure the required level of protection.

Finnish-language vaccination recommendations for horses (Finnish Food Authoritiy)

Finnish-language information on the compulsory influenza vaccination (Suomen Hippos ry, the Finnish trotting and breeding association)

Further information on vaccination recommendations can be obtained from the patient office.

 

Equine physiotherapy includes the following:

  • Active therapeutic exercises (e.g., therapeutic rail fence exercises, stimuli, riding and ground handling exercises, line driving, elastic resistance bands and kinesiology taping)
  • Physical therapies (heat, cold, laser or electric therapies, such as TNS, EMS and microcurrent therapy)
  • Manual handling (mobilisation of soft tissues, i.e., massage, as well as mobilisation and handling of joints)
  • Various techniques associated with respiratory and neurological physiotherapy

Therapy always includes instruction and guidance for the owner as well as a home training programme, if relevant. The therapy also includes an assessment of tack fit and assessments of the rider and the horse. Physiotherapy uses various means to support the functional capacity of horses, from a sick foal to an elite athlete.

Further information is available at Patients at the Equine Hospital (in Finnish).

 

Farrier Jaakko Granström, who is specialised in shoeing horses with injured and diseased hoofs, works at the Equine Hospital on Wednesdays. He usually treats horses together with a veterinarian, but also offers a few appointments for basic shoeing each week.

Our typical shoeing clients include laminitis patients, lame horses and foals born with foot or limb deformities. The presence of a veterinarian is not necessary for the most common shoeing procedures performed on horses with injured or diseased hoofs. More demanding procedures (e.g., the removal of hoof tumours) can be performed in an operating room under anaesthesia.

Veterinarians and farriers from outside the Equine Hospital can also refer patients to us for an assessment and shoeing.

Musculoskeletal diseases, lameness examinations

Orthopaedics is a field of medicine and surgery that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system. As flight animals, horses usually hide their musculoskeletal pain for as long as possible, so even the slightest changes in their movement or behaviour may indicate a problem. Good reasons for a veterinary examination include not only lameness, but also stiffness, reduced performance and unwillingness to move or, for example, jump fences. We are also happy to help when an owner wishes to check a horse’s musculoskeletal system to discover any undiagnosed diseases, for example, before and after the competitive season.

Lameness examinations

A lameness examination assesses the horse as a whole. The muscles and limbs are palpated thoroughly. The movements of the horse are observed during trotting but, if necessary, also during galloping or horseback riding. The movements of a trotter can be observed at a faster speed on a treadmill. To identify abnormalities in a horse’s gait that are difficult to observe, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital also has access to EquiGait sensors developed for studying asymmetrical movement. The aim is to locate problems as accurately as possible with diagnostic anaesthetisation. After a clinical examination, X-ray images can be taken or an ultrasound examination performed.

At the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, a veterinarian cooperates, if necessary, with a veterinary physiotherapist and farrier in assessing the horse and planning treatment.

The treatment provided at the Equine Hospital includes the following:

  • Intra-articular treatment
  • PRP
  • IRAP
  • Stem cell therapy
  • Surgical procedures
  • Veterinary physiotherapy
  • Shoeing to treat injured and diseased hoofs
  • Acupuncture

The most common eye problems are treated by veterinary specialists in internal medicine. In addition, Veterinary Specialist in Ophthalmology Elina Pietilä (Dipl ECVO), who is able to conduct thorough eye examinations and demanding eye surgery, visits the hospital.

Animals suffer from many of the same eye diseases as humans. These include the following:

  • Structural problems of the eyelid (e.g., abnormal position or additional eyelashes)
  • Corneal diseases 
  • Different degrees of opacity of the lens (cataract)
  • Lens luxation
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Glaucoma

Also common are various injuries of the eye and the tissues surrounding it as a result of , for example, colliding with a sharp object. In addition, horses are prone to uveitis, an immunological repeated inflammation of the uvea, which often requires long-term treatment and in the worst case can lead to blindness. 

Typical reasons to seek help include

  • Changes in the appearance of the eye (e.g., red or cloudy eyes or discharge from the eye)
  • Watering of the eye
  • Changes to vision 

Some diseases, such as glaucoma, uveitis and serious eye injuries, require urgent treatment so that the animal does not lose vision or the eyeball.

Eye complaints should be examined without delay, particularly if the eye is

  • Very sore (symptoms include squinting, redness, watery discharge and sensitivity to light)
  • Cloudy on the surface

Urgent medical attention is also necessary if the horse’s vision clearly decreases. 

The most common medical disorders affecting horses include horse colic and other issues with the digestive tract, respiratory problems and skin diseases. 

A horse can be brought for an examination either by referral or through appointment booking without a prior examination. The examination may last from one hour to almost an entire day. Patients requiring more long-term treatment or further examinations may stay over at a hospital ward. Instructions for patients staying at the Equine Hospital

In addition to laboratory diagnostics, internal medicine examinations and treatment utilise radiographic and ultrasonic examinations and various endoscopies. The hospital is equipped with endoscopes suited for endoscopies of the stomach and various parts of respiratory passages. Information about diagnostic imaging services

The central laboratory of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital is able to analyse a wide variety of samples, and most results are available during the same day. During on-call hours, an on-call laboratory is operational which can rapidly determine the most important laboratory values affecting acute treatment. Information about our laboratory.

The Department of Production Animal Medicine operating in the Production Animal Hospital employs veterinarians specialised in the reproduction of domestic animals, whose expertise and equipment are also available to the hospital. This enables the hospital to provide special breeding services for domestic animals. These services include both treatment of and consultation on individual problems and farm problem surveys.

The hospital treats mares and stallions suffering from reproductive problems and inseminates mares. In addition, stallion semen is frozen, and frozen semen inseminations are conducted. Embryo flushing and embryo transfers are also performed. The Production Animal Hospital has a permit for conducting equine artificial insemination activities, which include inseminations, semen collection and examination. The permit covers also semen freezing and frozen semen inseminations. The Production Animal Hospital is registered as an export station of equine semen (Directive 92/65/EEC). The Production Animal Hospital also has an embryo transfer permit.

In the case of horses, radiographic examinations are the primary imaging technique for the skeletal system and joints. The most common scanning objects include the foreleg from below the shoulder joint and the back leg from below the knee. Often, the cervical spine, the back and the area of the head are also scanned. To identify any potential sand accumulation, the lower anterior region of the abdominal cavity can be scanned. Chest X-rays can also be taken. These scans are performed while the horse is standing, usually under sedation. In conjunction with surgeries, X-rays can alternatively be taken with a mobile device in the operating room. At the Equine Hospital, radiography is primarily performed by radiographers specialised in veterinary imaging.

The Equine Hospital has high-quality ultrasonic equipment at its disposal. In the case of horses, ultrasonic examinations are broadly used in diagnosing lameness and in the examination of internal organs. The most common targets of scanning include tendon-like structures and various types of soft tissue swelling, but many ultrasonic examinations of the abdominal and thoracic cavities as well as the heart are performed at the Equine Hospital as well. Usually, the site of examination is shaved. When necessary, the horse can be sedated. As a rule, examinations are performed by the veterinarian in charge of the patient.

The Equine Hospital has at its disposal a ‘foot magnet’, or a low-field MRI device, which enables the examination of the lower parts of the horse’s legs while the animal is standing upright. At this time, this is the only device of its kind in Finland. MRI scans are recommended for further examinations when lameness has been identified in the lower foot and other imaging techniques have not provided a clear diagnosis. MRI scans clearly show any damage to soft tissues, in addition to which internal alterations in the bone are identified. MR imaging is particularly suitable to examining the internal soft tissue structures of the hoof.

The hoof and the fetlock are the most common objects of MRI scans. Additionally, the upper attachment of the suspensory ligament, the knee and the hock can be scanned. During the procedure, the horse is sedated. The scanning of a single site takes approximately 45–60 minutes. Usually, two sites are scanned during one procedure.