Medical Infrared for Equine (Horse)
A growing application and field for infrared technology includes equine (horse) thermal imaging. The medical and veterinary fields have embraced infrared technology to assist with diagnosis of various ailments afflicting both humans and animals.
The particular specimen shown here at upper right (a rare unicorn mare) was imaged to determine the amount of damage savagely inflicted by a vicious 1 year old child (my daughter). As can be visibly seen in the infrared spectrum, the rear leg was unfortunately mauled and slobbered upon. The injuries were discovered quickly with the infrared camera, and the unicorn made a full recovery. It is now leading a peaceful but lonely life at the bottom of one of her toy boxes.
In all seriousness, infrared technology has proven VERY successful in helping medical and veterinary doctors to diagnose and treat otherwise difficult to detect ailments. From early cancer detection to discovery of otherwise invisible injuries and even applications to prevent spread of airborne diseases such as the avian flue epidemic, thermal imaging has proven its worth in these fields. Animal health (and specifically equine applications) are some of the most difficult to diagnose and treat simply because the animal cannot directly tell us about the symptoms. Often the animal does not outwardly appear to be affected by an internal or stress related injury, and so it goes unnoticed until it’s far too late for a full or speedy recovery. Most professional race tracks have adopted requirements of full health checks of the race horse prior to and immediately after a race event. These checkups and physicals often include infrared thermal imaging for comparison purposes in order to detect and prevent costly or even life threatening injuries to the animals.
Individual clinics and farriers (specialists in equine hoof care) are embracing infrared imaging for its known benefits. Thermal imaging is quick and harmless, does not place the animals under any stress, and requires no contact or invasive procedures with the animals. Because infrared technology and equipment is expensive to own and maintain, the scans themselves are often outsourced to knowledgeable thermographers (thermal imaging specialists) who perform the scans so the veterinarian can review, interpret, and diagnose the images. In fact, some experienced thermographers even offer full services complete with professional interpretation and recommendations by a qualified (and industry leading) veterinarian specializing in equine thermal imaging health.
If you own horses or know someone that does, recommend they discuss thermal imaging with their veterinary practitioner or farrier for the health and safety of their animals.
(A side note: No real animals were harmed in the making of this post.)