Animals get their vitamin E from their diets, which for livestock means access to lush, rich grass and fresh hay.  |  File photo

Vitamin E deficiency common in prairie livestock

Throughout the body, vitamins serve crucial functions to maintain cells in a state of health. Perhaps unimaginatively named for the letters of the alphabet, the vitamins are A, B, C, D and E. Vitamin K breaks the order but is no less important. A recent conversation with a fellow veterinarian led me to review the […] Read more

Horses can develop infections in the lungs, also known as pneumonia, which can compromise their athletic ability and may even be life threatening. | File photo

Pneumonia in horses can compromise athletic ability

Through evolution, horses have developed a tremendous capacity for running at sustained, high speeds. To meet these athletic demands, horses have remarkably large lungs and heart. Those organs must be healthy. With each heartbeat, blood courses through the lungs, exhausting carbon dioxide and refreshing its oxygen load before travelling around the blood vessels to oxygenate […] Read more

Connections explored between brains and sleep

As a veterinary pathologist, I hold the brains of animals in my hands almost every week. A cat brain fits comfortably in the palm of my hand, while the brain of a 1,000 pound feedlot steer needs a two-handed grip. Removing a brain involves opening the skull and then carefully severing the 12 pairs of […] Read more

Poison, infectious disease and predators are some of the possibilities to examine when large numbers of wild birds die suddenly.  |  File photo

Outbreaks of sudden death in wild birds tough to solve

It is a sight no one wishes to see. This winter, more than 50 dead ducks were discovered in one of Calgary’s parks. The people who found them were understandably upset. They were also concerned about the cause. Could it be poison? Or an outbreak of some type of infectious disease? Did a deadly bird […] Read more

Multiple small areas of pus and dead tissue in this lymph node, located near the intestines, is typical of caseous lymphadenitis in sheep and goats. | Jamie Rothenburger photo

Caseous lymphadenitis causes big losses in sheep, goats

One of the most important infectious diseases of sheep and goats is caseous lymphadenitis (also called cheesy gland), a disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. As far as bacteria go, it is a tough, nasty pathogen. Infected individuals are not able to clear the bacteria from their system, leading to chronic infections. The bacteria […] Read more

The normal right kidney in horses (above, left) is heart-shaped. Horse urine is normally cloudy yellow, as seen in this dissected bladder.   |  Jamie Rothenburger photos

Kidney disease in horses is a rare but serious condition

In the animal world, cats are the species most often affected by chronic kidney disease. But slow deterioration of the kidney can occur in any animal, including horses. Kidneys are vital organs that have many important bodily functions. This pair of dark red organs sits tucked up along the lower back. They filter out nitrogen […] Read more

Abnormalities can affect any system in the body and range in severity. | File photo

Abnormal development results in many calf problems

With calving season upon us again, I’ve been reflecting on the wide range of things that can go wrong in fetal development. Abnormalities can affect any system in the body and range in severity. The most serious and severe abnormalities cause spontaneous abortion or neonatal death. Others are mundane and are only detected by chance. […] Read more

Some of the adaptations that make horses so athletic probably predispose them to fatal injuries such as this ruptured aorta, which is a major blood vessel.  | University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine photo

Physiological adaptation makes horses top athletes

Among animals, horses are remarkably adapted to thrive in a wide variety of climates and environments, including some of the more extreme places on Earth. For example, a herd of horses occupies Sable Island, one of Canada’s newest national parks. The horses have lived on the island off the coast of Nova Scotia since the […] Read more

Ulcers develop when the thin stomach lining is lost, leaving the underlying stomach wall exposed.  |  University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine photo

Stomach ulcers are major ailment in performance horses

Horses are susceptible to stomach ulcers, especially if they work hard in performance activities such as racing, jumping and showing. An ulcer develops when the thin stomach lining is lost, leaving the underlying stomach wall exposed. The lost layer normally protects the delicate underlayers from stomach acid and abrasive food items such as coarse grasses. […] Read more

Modern broiler chickens grow rapidly to reach a weight of about two kilograms in less than six weeks.  |  Jamie Rothenburger photo

Research suggests chickens defining animal of our age

Among all domestic animal species, chickens have a special place in the history of human civilizations and on our dinner plates. Chickens were domesticated from wild jungle fowl that lived in the forests of southeastern Asia and spread via trade routes into the Middle East, Europe and Africa. During the establishment of European colonies worldwide, […] Read more