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Why Horses Stock Up?

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Edema and attendant swelling may develop in horses' legs, especially, the hind limbs, usually as a result of lack of exercise. Other causes of stocking up include excessive amounts of protein or energy in the diet, diseases such as viral arteritis, and heavy parasitism. Stocking up most often occurs in horses that are normally accustomed to exercise and are subsequently stalled or trailered for an extended period of time.

Normally, when the horse has an opportunity to move about, the spongy material of the frog assists circulation of the blood and lymph from the feet back to the heart. When the horse stands idle, however, venous congestion may occur in the lower limbs. An affected animal will appear normal except for a swelling of the lower limbs, which will pit when depressed with the fingers. In rare cases, if the condition is left untreated, the skin may crack and ooze serum.

Preventative care, in the form of regular exercise, proper diet, and a good deworming program are the best solutions for stocking up. As a further preventative measure, support bandages may be indicated when hauling a horse long distances, or if a horse must be stalled without sufficient exercise.

Simple cases of stocking up will usually disappear quickly when the horse is exercised. Since stocking up is a sign of an underlying problem, veterinarian may administer a diuretic, such as furosemide, to give temporary relief prior to a definite diagnosis. The diet should be checked for excessive amounts of energy or protein, and a fecal or urine analysis may be done if parasite or kidney disorders are suspected.

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