“D and E” Words Your Veterinarian Uses

Elite Equine Vet Kansas Kids and Horses2 dam: the female parent of a foal.
dam’s sire (broodmare sire): the sire of a broodmare. Used in reference to
      the maternal grandsire foal.
dark bay or brown: a horse color that ranges from brown with areas of tan
on the shoulders, head and flanks, to a dark brown, with tan areas seen
only in the flanks and/or muzzle. The mane, tail and lower portions of the
legs are always black unless white markings are present.
deep digital flexor tendon: present in all four legs, but injuries most
commonly affect the front legs. Located on the back (posterior) of the
front leg between the knee and the foot and between the hock and the foot
on the rear leg. The function is to flex the digit and fetlock and support
the lower limb as part of the suspensory apparatus. In the front limb it
also flexes the knee (carpus) and extends the elbow. On the rear leg, it
also extends the hock. Functions in tandem with the superficial flexor
degenerative joint disease : any joint problem that has progressive
degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying (subchondral) bone.
Also called osteoarthritis, a severe form of arthritis that has a
progressive degeneration of joint cartilage. Occurs most frequently in the
joints below the radius in the foreleg and the femur in the hind leg. Some
of the more common causes include repeated trauma, conformation faults,
blood disease, traumatic joint injury, subchondral bone defects
(OCD-osteochondritis dessicans-lesions) and repeated intra-articular
corticosteroid injections.
desmitis: inflammation of a ligament. Involves tearing of ligament
fibrils. The number of torn fibrils determines the severity of the injury.
deworming: the use of drugs (anthelmintics) to kill internal parasites,
often performed by administration of oral paste or by passing a
nasogastric tube into the horse’s stomach.
digestible energy: the amount of energy the horse is able to digest from
digit: the part of the limb below the fetlock (ankle) joint. Includes the
long and short pastern bones, the coffin bone and the navicular bone.
 digital cushion: thick elastic tissue lying under the frog and separating
it from the coffin bone. It serves as a shock absorber.
 distaff: a female horse.
distal sesamoidean ligaments: attach the bottom of the sesamoid bones to
the long and short pastern bones.
distal: away from the center of the body. Usually refers to the limbs. The
injury was distal to (below) the hock .
DMSO: dimethyl sulfoxide, a topical anti-flammatory.
dorsal displacement of the soft palate: a condition in which the soft
palate, located on the floor of the airway near the larynx, moves up into
the airway. A minor displacement causes a gurgling sound during exercise
while in more serious cases the palate can block the airway. This is
sometimes known as “choking down” or “swallowing the tongue” but the
tongue does not actually block the airway. The base of the tongue is
connected to the larynx, of which the epiglottis is a part. When the
epiglottis is retracted, the soft palate can move up into the airway
(dorsal displacement). This condition can sometimes be managed with
equipment such a figure eight noseband or a tongue-tie. In more extreme
cases, surgery might be required, most commonly a “myectomy” (excision of
the muscles that retract the larynx).
dorsal: toward the back or spine of the horse (upwards). Also, used to
describe the front surface of the lower limb below the knee (front limb)
or hock (rear limb).
drench: liquid (usually medication) administered through the mouth.
driving: a horse that is all out to win and under strong urging from its
DVM: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
dysphagia: difficulty swallowing, which can be due to pain, obstruction
(choke) or a problem with the nerves that govern throat muscles. The most
common signs of dysphagia are slobbering of food from the mouth and/or
drainage of chewed food and saliva from nostrils. Treatment usually is
aimed at identifying and resolving the underlying cause and adjusting
feeding methods (e.g. feeding by stomach tube) to avoid aspiration
ear mites: infestation by parasites that have invaded the horse’s ear
canal, causing inflammation, itching and increased wax formation. Signs
can include head shaking and holding the ear drooped to one side.
Treatment is generally aimed at killing the mites with insecticides and
cleaning the ear of wax and debris that resulted from inflammation.
(Sedation usually is needed to accomplish this).
earmuffs: a piece of equipment that covers a horse’s ears to prevent it
from hearing distracting sounds or having insects bother its ears.
Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE): viral infection of the horse’s
brain and spinal cord, which can infect horses, humans and selected birds,
transmitted by mosquitoes. Signs can include behavioral changes, loss of
appetite and fever. These can progress in 12 to 24 hours to dementia with
head pressing, teeth grinding, circling and often blindness. The disease
is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. Surviving horses often have
residual mental dullness. Treatment is generally supportive.
EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis): one of several contagious types of
encephalomyelitis that causes sickness and death in horses by affecting
the central nervous system. EEE is spread by mosquitoes and can affect
humans. Can be prevented through annual vaccinations.
EIA: Equine Infectious Anemia. A contagious disease characterized by an
intial acute attack of fever, weakness to the point of incoordination and
jaundice, as well as other signs. Ensuing attacks result in anemia,
emaciation and cardiac insufficiency. It is spread by biting flies and
EIPH: Exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. See bleeder.
ELISA: Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay. A form of testing to determine
levels of medication existent in the fluids of horses.
 encephalitis: inflammation of the brain, usually due to infection.
endometritis: inflammation of the uterine lining, usually due to
endoscope: an instrument used for direct visual inspection of a hollow
organ or body cavity such as the upper airway or stomach. A “fiberoptic
endoscope” is comprised of a long, flexible tube that has a series of
lenses and a light at the end to allow the veterinarian to view and
photograph the respiratory system by insertion through the nostrils and
air passageways. Other internal organs may be viewed by inserting the
endoscope through a surgical opening. A “video endoscope” has a small
camera at the tip of the instrument.
endotoxemia: blood poisoning that can occur with such serious conditions
as Potomac horse fever, colitis, grain overload, severe colic, Salmonella
infection, respiratory tract infection or uterine infection. As bacteria
die a natural death, they release a miniscule amount of toxin that has no
effect on the horse unless the bacteria are present in larger-than-usual
numbers. In such a case, the dose of toxin the horse absorbs can cause
endotoxemia. This condition is the biggest killer of horses from
non-traumatic causes, and is the cause of death in most fatal colics.
endotoxin: a substance produced by bacteria that, when absorbed into the
horse’s body, can cause endotoxic shock.
enterolith: a “stone” in the horse’s intestinal tract, made of minerals
present in the feed and/or intestinal secretions, and usually formed
around a foreign body, such as a small piece of debris. Small, pebble-like
enteroliths can be swept out with the manure, or can remain in the
intestinalo tract where they grow larger, later interfering with manure
passage. Treatment often includes removal by surgery. If enteroliths are
small enough, removal by regular administration of a bulk laxative can be
used. Dietary changes may also be prescribed.
entire: an ungelded horse.
entrapped epiglottis: a condition in which the thin membrane lying below
the epiglottis moves up and covers the epiglottis. The abnormality may
obstruct breathing. Usually treated by surgery to cut the membrane if it
impairs respiratory function.
epiglottis: a triangular-shaped cartilage that lies at the base of the
airway just in front of the arytenoids cartilages. It covers the airway
during swallowing to prevent the entry of foreign bodies. It is normally
located above (dorsal to) the soft palate.
epistaxis: see bleeder.
EPM: infection of the brain and spinal cord by a protozoan called
Sarcocystis neurona.The protozoa are spread by the definitive host the
opossum, which aquires the organism from scavenging carcasses of cats,
raccoons, skunks, armadillos and possibly even from harbor seals and sea
otters. Horses become infected by eating on contaminated areas where
opossums droppings are present. Signs can vary widely and may include
weakness, staggering, head tilt, dysphagia and/or seizures. Diagnosis is
based on symptoms and spinal tap of the horse.
equine influenza: a contagious viral disease of the upper respiratory
tract. Symptoms may include cough, fever, muscle soreness and nasal
discharge. Treatment is generally supportive. Rest until at least two
weeks after the cough has resolved is an important component of successful
treatment, since premature return to work can prolong the cough.
Vaccination is the most effective means of prevention.
equine viral arteritis (EVA): a contagious viral disease spread by casual
contact or by breeding with a previously infected mate. If mares are
infected while pregnant, they will usually abort. Affected horses are sick
and contagious for a week to 10 days with flu-like symptoms. Most victims
recover completely with proper nursing care (but can spread the disease to
others after recovery, via sexual contact).
estrous cycle: the length of time between consecutive ovulations.
estrus (heat): associated with ovulation; a mare usually is receptive to
breeding during estrus. The mare’s behavior at this time is referred to as
euthanasia: elective termination of the horse’s life for humane reasons.
EVA (equine viral arteritis): a highly contagious disease that is
characterized by swelling in the legs of all horses and swelling in the
scrotum of stallions; can cause abortion in mares and can be shed in the
semen of stallions for years after infection.
extensor tendon: tendon of a muscle that extends the knee (carpus) joint.

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