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State-of-the-art equine veterinary hospital located in Oconomowoc

Sept. 19, 2013 | 0 comments

Oconomowoc is home to a state-of-the-art equine veterinary hospital that contains the latest equipment and technology to diagnose and care for any kind of horse, including an open, standing MRI, making it just one of 16 equine medical centers in the world to offer this advanced tool.

A group of Dodge County 4-Hers and their families recently had the opportunity to visit this hospital and learn about the work that is being done there and the progress that has been made in horse care procedures since the hospital was established 30 years ago.

On the tour they learned that many of the doctors, technicians and staff own horses themselves, or have worked alongside horses for much of their lives.

For these people, caring for a horse is a natural extension of the bond they have with our own animals.

Specialties of Wisconsin Equine Clinic and Hospital include: Internal medicine consultation, Shockwave therapy, Diagnostic ultrasound, MRI, Digital x-ray, Reproduction, Routine Health Care, Neonatal management, Dental procedures, Ophthalmology consultation and care, Alternative therapies, VSMT (Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy), Acupuncture, Gastroscopy, Endoscopy, and Lameness evaluations.

The clinic also offers the unique 'Wellness Program', a preventive health care program for all horses.

Dr. Sarah Cates, an intern at the hospital, says, "A horse's ability to move and perform is important so people will try anything to make sure their horses are able to move around."

Dr. Cates received her undergraduate degree at the University of Kentucky and then went to Ohio State Veterinary School for four years where she earned her veterinarian degree.

She said in the area of horse care, veterinarians serve an apprenticeship in addition to their other large-animal vet care training.

The hospital has two surgeons on staff and veterinarians from the hospital and clinic also make farm visits. Surgeries are both emergency and elective.


The youth learned that one of the common surgeries taking place at the hospital is for colic. What starts as a simple "tummy ache" can progress to a "surgical colic".

Of course the surgery is not the first option chosen once it is diagnosed. Often horses are treated on the farm with standard colic care including Banamine and mineral oil, but when the treatments do not improve the condition, surgery may be an option.

Some horses undergoing colic surgery stay as long as two-three days to recuperate.

One cause of colic can be the collection of minerals inside a horse to form stones. They are difficult to see with Xrays or ultrasound.

When operating to remove them, if the surgeons find a triangular stone, it is an indication there is usually more. If the stone is round, it is likely the only one.


Another common ailment is foot and leg problems. The veterinarians often examine horses in the soft-surface arena at the facility and again outside on the harder surface.

When horses seem to have problems breathing while exercising, the veterinarians can equip them with an airway monitor to see what is going on in the air way.

One wing of the facility is designated specifically for reproduction work including collection of semen and performing embryo transfers.

The clinic has seen increased interest in chiropractic care for horses, acupuncture and manipulative therapy, regenerative therapies and shock wave therapy to increase the metabolism of the irritated area.

The most recent technology is in the area of stem cells.

Stem cells can be described as master cells in the body that have the ability to reproduce and change to the specific type of cell present in the injured area.

Presently in horses veterinarians typically use either bone marrow or fat derived stem cells. The technicians at this Oconomowoc facility believe the bone marrow derived stem cells are superior.

Stem cells can be used for soft tissue injuries such as injuries in tendons and ligaments. The most common and effective use is treating core lesions within the suspensory ligament.

They are also effective either separate or even more so when used in conjunction with surgery for the treatment of joint injuries.

Stem cells can help with the cartilage resurfacing, treatment of osteoarthritis, or soft tissue injuries within the joint.

Following treatment it might take six-12 months of rest and rehab to achieve the optimal healing for return to previous peak performance. The use of stem cells improves the quality of healing but does not necessarily speed up the process.

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