Ashbrook has in-house laboratory facilities which are available round the clock, enabling us to run routine and emergency blood samples without delay.
The VetScan HM5 haematology machine analyses blood and other fluid such as joint fluid and peritoneal fluid (belly tap) in less than a minute. This machine provides valuable information about the horse’s blood cells; the white blood cell counts give an indication of the immune response and the red blood cell counts help assess for anaemia or blood loss. Quick analysis of joint fluid or peritoneal fluid is vital in the case of emergencies such as infected joints or colic.
Our VetScan biochemistry machine gives information about liver enzymes, kidney function, muscle enzymes, electrolytes and various blood proteins. Together with these protein levels, analysis of the percentage of red blood cells present allows us to accurately assess the horse's hydration levels. This can be regularly checked in critically ill horses, those that are receiving intravenous fluids or those that have lost a lot of blood. In critical care cases, we are also able to monitor inflammatory protein levels using stall-side SAA machines. If more specialised tests are required, samples will be sent to a specialist laboratory.
Microscopy is also used for examination of hair samples from skin problems or for faecal worm egg counts. We also have in-house microscopy which allows us to physically examine the cell types in blood smears, joint or peritoneal fluids. We can also use this to assess the presence of bacteria in these samples.
Faecal Worm Egg Counts
The most popular use of the microscope is for faecal worm egg counts. This test is used to assess levels of worm eggs in the faeces and therefore whether that individual horse requires worming treatment for redworms. The test only requires a small sample of faeces from each horse and is a very cost effective way to manage a worming programme on a yard. We now routinely recommend this strategic worming approach for most yard situations. It must be remembered that tapeworm levels are not assessed reliably using this method so the horse should be wormed routinely for tapeworm or a blood or saliva sample taken to assess tapeworm levels