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Pet Owner Version

Principles of Therapy of the Nervous System in Horses


Thomas Schubert

, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP, Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida

Reviewed/Revised May 2019 | Modified Oct 2022

Once a diagnosis is made, appropriate therapy can be considered. There are several groups of drugs that are used to treat disorders of the nervous system. Drugs used to treat epileptic seizures are known as anticonvulsants. Anti-inflammatory medications, including corticosteroids, are used to reduce swelling and inflammation in many types of injuries. These medications may be given intravenously in some cases (such as spinal cord injury) and by mouth in others. Other medications may be needed to relieve muscle spasms caused by neurologic disorders or to treat infections of the nervous system.

Nursing care is essential for many horses with neurologic disease. For example, horses may not be able to stand, blink, or urinate with certain disorders of the nervous system. Rotating a down patient or maintaining them in a sling, lubricating the eyes, or placing a urinary catheter would be necessary in such cases. In addition, keeping the patient safe from injuring itself is a top priority: padded helmets, padded stall walls, deep bedding and protective leg wraps may be used to prevent injury in a horse that is having seizures, has difficulty rising or has lost coordination.

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