Final year veterinary students examine beehives as part of a national ecosystem health rotation.  |  Aron Nichols photo

Vet students learn about ecosystem influences on health

Veterinary students spend most of their final year in veterinary programs refining and practicing clinical skills. For cattle, this might entail working on pregnancy checking, perfecting bull testing, designing herd health programs and optimizing parasite control. In a variety of species, vet students practice surgical and anesthesia skills. But each year, a small group of […] Read more

Head shakers, as they are known, repetitively nod their heads as if saying yes. It looks similar to how a horse might react to a fly up the nose. Shaking can also be accompanied by face rubbing, snorting, sneezing, appearing anxious and striking at the head with the front legs.
 | File photo

Head shaking in horses remains a treatment challenge for owners

Horses will occasionally give their head a shake for normal reasons. A flick of the neck can dislodge flies. The occasional shake can indicate discomfort from bits and other tack. A head and neck roll may be a body language expression to other horses. But a small number of horses experience shaking to a pathological […] Read more

Copper deficiency common in Western Canadian cattle

If you’ve ever seen black cows with a tinge of red hair, you may have witnessed a case of copper deficiency. This trace mineral is deficient in the diets of many cattle in Western Canada and is a fairly common condition. As a trace mineral, copper is important for a variety of essential functions in […] Read more


Cribbing in horses is considered challenging behaviour for owners

Cribbing is one of the most common vices horses can have. Also known as crib-biting, it is frequent, repetitive action that animals engage in with no apparent function. When a horse cribs, it grasps a flat surface with its front incisor teeth, arches its neck and gulps air, creating a grunt. The cause is unknown, […] Read more

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