Researcher Profiles

Dr. Judith Koenig

View Dr. Koenig's University of Guelph profile
"For me, it doesn't make a difference if the horse that I am treating is a backyard pet or from the most expensive stable, any horse deserves the best possible treatment…this has always been my philosophy."


Why is this important?

Dr. Koenig feels that it is extremely important to inform the public about equine research and deliver sound knowledge that can be used to benefit the well-being of horses. There are many conditions in horses that are generally believed to be non-treatable, for example certain types of fractures that can actually be healed successfully, and it is important that current and accurate information be made available. She states "we do a lot of neat stuff here at OVC and we have people with a great deal of expertise and knowledge".

YouTube logo Dr. Koenig discusses her research in our special feature

Equine Related Hero: All horses are notable, however one of the nicest horses she ever met and had the opportunity to treat was the Canadian thoroughbred Wando, a winner of Canada's Triple Crown and Canada's 2003 Horse of the Year Award. Wando's very sweet personality and the magnitude of love he received from his caretakers are a few reasons why he is one of her favorite horses.

Horse Background: Dr. Koenig has always been genuinely passionate about horses. As a child and teenager in Austria she enjoyed trail riding, jumping and dressage and would groom and muck out stalls to pay for riding lessons. She had the wonderful opportunity to show horses trained at the Prix St. George and Grand Prix levels and earned the qualifications to participate in dressage tournaments in Germany and Austria. Her determination and passion to become a doctor with humans or animals was made during her early childhood years. Following a sad experience at the age of twelve, where a horse she had cared for and greatly loved died from a ruptured stomach, Dr. Koenig knew she wished to be an equine veterinary surgeon. Presently Dr. Koenig enjoys trail riding in the woods when time allows, is an "absolute" mountain person and her dream is to ride across the Rockies.

Area of Specialty:

  • Equine soft tissue surgery with emphasis on gastrointestinal surgery

  • Substances that enhance wound healing

Degrees: Mag. Med. Vet., Dr. Med. Vet (VIENNA), DVSc ( Guelph), Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ECVS

Position: Faculty member, Large Animal Surgery, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph

Teaching undergraduate students - equine surgery and anesthesia, third year surgery lab, and bovine gastrointestinal diseases and fourth year clinical rotations
Teaching graduate and resident students
Practicing equine surgeon

Research Related Goals: A potential post-operative complication of colic surgery is reduced or absent gut motility (ileus), which can be fatal to the horse. Dr. Koenig is developing non-invasive methods to monitor gut motility in order to better characterize ileus development and investigate new treatment regiments. In humans, a new method called electrogastrography (EGG) is employed to measure stomach motility with surface electrodes, however, protocols and guidance are not readily available for the use of similar methods in horses. Dr. Koenig will be the first to adapt electrogastrography protocols for use in horses through specialized training in a human gastroenterology laboratory. An ileus model will be created in horses and EGG used for identifying changes in gut motility and the evaluation of various non-invasive treatments to treat ileus. Ultrasound and laparoscopic techniques will be employed in designing this model.

When intestinal motility is compromised, prokinetic agents (agents used to stimulate motility) may be used in humans and other species to successfully promote movement of feed material through the gastrointestinal tract. Based on studies in people and in other animals, the antibiotic erythromycin lactobionate (EB), is a prokinetic drug, which may work in horses. The drug works by binding to motilin (a hormone that increases intestinal motility) receptors that are located on the smooth muscle and nerves of the bowel. Dr. Koenig has determined, in healthy horses, that horses have motilin receptors and that EB also binds to these receptors. However, in the face of inflammation of the bowel, as is the case with ileus, EB does not seem effective. Dr. Koenig is conducting research, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Equine Guelph to investigate why this occurs. She believes that inflammation of the bowel associated with ileus might cause motilin receptors to change or disappear, thus eliminating a target for the drugs and their inability to induce motility.

Background: Dr. Koenig was born in Austria and earned her Masters and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degrees from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. While in Vienna she also worked at the university as an assistant surgeon where she conducted research on non-invasive methods to monitor oxygenation during colic surgery in horses. As part of her Doctorate program, she conducted research in the area of equine anesthesia at OVC under the supervision of Dr. Wayne McDonell. During this time, she was exposed to many opportunities to become a very well-trained surgeon and fell in love with a Canadian whom she married. After finishing her studies in Vienna, she completed a one year internship at OVC followed by a fellowship in Oregon. Dr. Koenig returned to OVC for a large animal surgery residency program, after which she was hired as a staff surgeon in large animal surgery and then a faculty member with OVC in 2005.

Additional Accomplishments:

Dual Board certification with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) and European College of Veterinary Surgeons (ECVS)

Successful treatment of many conditions in client horses including guttural pouch disease in Arabs, tendon injuries and elbow fractures in foals

Instructor for Groom One Program

- Coralie Sopher

Areas of interest:

Tissue regeneration and healing
Gastrointestinal motility


Koenig JB.,Silveira A, Chalmers H, Buenviaje G, Lillie B: Laryngeal neuroendocrine tumour in a horse. (Equine Veterinary Education, in press)

Rubio Martinez LM, Cribb NC, Koenig JB:Extraperitoneal incisional abscess formation after colic surgery in 3 horses (Equine Veterinary Education, in press)

Beeler-Marfisi J, GallasteguiMenoyo A, Beck A, König J, Hewson J, Bienzle J: Gelatinous marrow transformation and hematopoietic atrophy in a miniature horse stallion. (Vet Pathology 2011 Mar; 48(2): 451-5)

Silveira A, Koenig JB*, Arroyo, L, Trout D, Moens N, LaMarre J, Brooks A,: Effect of unfocused extracorporeal shockwave therapy on healing of equine wounds ( Am J Vet Res; 2010; 71(2): 229-234)

Valverde A, Crawshaw GJ, Cribb N, Bellei M, Gianotti G, Arroyo L, Koenig J, Kummrow M, Costa MC. Anesthetic management of a white rhinoceros (Ceratotheriumsimum) undergoing an emergency exploratory celiotomy for colic. (Vet AnaesthAnalg 2010; 37(3): 280-5)

Koenig JB, Silveira A: Use of shockwave in treatment of wounds in horses. Newsletter of the International Veterinary Society for Wound Healing April 2009. Koenig JB, Hart J, Harris D, Cruz A, Bienzle D: Evaluation of endotoxin activity in whole blood measured by neutrophil chemiluminescence in healthy horses and horses with colic (Am J Vet Res 2009: 70 (10):1183-86)

Koenig JB, Martin C, Dobson H, Mintchev MP: Use of multi-channel electrogastrography (EGG) for non-invasive assessment of gastric myoelectrical activity in dogs.(Am J Vet Res; 2009; 70: 11-15)

Koenig JB, Martin C, Nykamp G, Mintchev MP: Use of multi-channel electrointestinography for non-invasive assessment of large intestinal myoelectrical activity in horses. (Am J Vet Res; 2008; 69 (6))

Rubio-Martinez LM, Koenig JB*, Halling KB, Wilkins K, Schulz K: Use of a circular external skeletal fixator for stabilization of a comminuted diaphyseal metatarsal fracture in an alpaca (JAVMA; 2007; 230:7:1044-49)

Koenig JB, Rodriguez A, Colquhoun JK, Staempfli H: Congenital colonic malformation (“short colon“) in a 4-month-old Standardbred foal (Can Vet J;2007; 48: 416-419). Chenier T, Estrada A, Koenig JB:Theriogenology Question of the Month: diagnosis and treatment of a ruptured vaginal tunique in a thoroughbred stallion (JAVMA; 2007;230: 10: 1469-1472)

Koenig J,Sawhney S, Cote N, LaMarre J The effect of inflammation on motilin receptors and binding of erythromycin lactobionate in the equine jejunum. (Am J Vet Res; 2006 67: 815-820 )

Koenig J, Cote N: Equine Gastrointestinal Motility. (Can Vet J2006;47:551–559)

Koenig J, Cruz A, Genovese R, Fretz P, Trostle S: Rupture of the peroneus tertius tendon in 27 horses (Can Vet J 2005; 46 (6),503-506)

Koenig J.,McDonell WN.,Valverde A.: Accuracy of pulse oximetry and capnography in healthy and compromised horses during general anesthesia.(Can J Vet Res 2003; 67(3), 169-174)

Koenig J, Cote N, Lamarre J, Harris W, Trout D, Kenney D, Monteith G.: Binding of radiolabeled porcine motilin and erythromycin lactobionate to smooth muscle membranes in various segments of the equine gastrointestinal tract (Am J Vet Res 2002; 63 (11), 1545 – 50)

Koenig JB.,Watrous BJ., Kaneps AJ., Adams JG., Parker JE.: Otitis Media in a 7 Month Old Female Llama (JAVMA, 2001, 218(10), 1619-1623)

Boutros CP, Koenig JB: A combined frontal and maxillary sinus approach for repulsion of the third maxillary molar in a horse. (Can Vet J, 2001, 42 (4), 286-288)

Koenig J.,Hurtig M., Pearce, S., Henderson J., Morris, T.: Ballistic shockwave lithotripsy in an 18 year old Thoroughbred gelding, ( Can Vet J, 1999 Mar. 40(3), 185-6.)