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View Full Version : Has anyone had to deal with Cellulitis?



coolmom
Jan. 30, 2009, 02:27 PM
Our gelding suffered a severe hind leg injury about 1.5 years ago and has off-and-on bouts of swelling. However, with each episode, it seems to be a little worse. It has been about nine months with no swelling whatsoever and he was back to normal. Just recently, he had another episode of such tremendous swelling all around the initial injury but this time would bear no weight on his leg. He has been diagnosed with cellulitis; once his immediate swelling is down, we will have xrays taken. The cellulitis cases I have heard of have all ended badly and I want to know if his episodes will continue to get worse until one day he has a total blowout with nothing left to be done or is there hope that this can be managed and he live a long and happy, painfree life. I can't seem to get a real answer from our vet. Maybe it can be managed.....maybe not..... Do you wait until the last straw has been drawn and then relieve his suffering? We will be the ones to suffer a great loss when he goes as he is just not a show horse, but a complete member of this family.

FlashGordon
Jan. 30, 2009, 02:55 PM
It is a hard disease to predict, which is perhaps why your vet is not able to give you a clear prognosis.

I've found that treating bouts of it very aggressively can help. IV antibiotics, cold hosing, pressure wrapping and of course a lot of turnout and hand walking. Acute flares CAN be painful, but managed.

I've known quite a few older TBs who are prone to cellulitic episodes. They were all able to live with it... I guess what I am saying is with proper management and care they can do ok for a loooong time. If it becomes chronic, obviously it is uncomfortable and at that point perhaps a decision needs to be made... but for horses who flare up now and again, they can lead relatively normal lives.

fivehorses
Jan. 30, 2009, 07:40 PM
I agree with flash. As soon as my mare starts to show any signs, she is immediately put on antibiotics(oral) and banamine, and cold hosed every two hours.
I did not have to wrap this last time, but if I did, I would have.

I dread spring and mud, as that seems to be her nemisis. She had scratches, and that is the portal into her body for the disease. ugh.

There are lots of threads on cellulitis and lymphangitis.

Valeureux
Jan. 30, 2009, 08:05 PM
Quite a few of the horses at the barn I ride at have had cellulitis, but only very mild cases with the leg swelling up for about a week and then being okay. I'm not sure about the more severe cases though. Our horses were put on banamine and cold hosed every two hours and wrapped afterwards. Seemed to help greatly.

deltawave
Jan. 30, 2009, 09:23 PM
Once. My young mare got it--I was riding my other horse and noticed the youngster standing by the waterer--and an hour later she was STILL just standing there. Most unusual. Went to check on her and she was DEAD LAME, with a foreleg like a stovepipe, wouldn't put any weight on it at all and was pretty miserable. :( I immediately thought fracture but there was no evidence of trauma or deformity, so I gingerly asked her to walk a step or two. She got a little better after a few steps and was able to walk in. Called the vet, who came out and examined her minutely and found a TINY little pinhole of a puncture wound on her forearm. Gave it a little squeeze and the filly hit the roof!

She's terribly allergic to Sulfa, so we had to go with the expensive IM stuff, but within 24 hours she was a LOT better. I kept her moving, it seemed to help a lot. Cold hosed things for th efirst 2 days. Wraps helped for the first day with swelling below the knee, but as soon as she felt better she moved around more and that put an end to the swelling.

Within a week she was A-OK. :)

pintopiaffe
Jan. 30, 2009, 10:27 PM
When my guy had chronic scratches, he also had recurring cellulitis. It would get way bad if I tried homebrew concoctions for the scratches. Worst was a *vet recommended* mix of equal parts furacin, panacur and DMSO. I'm quite lucky I didn't kill him. :( :dead:

Since getting the scratches cured--yes, CURED, the cellulitis has also resolved.

For him it was a low grade--but chronic--allergies or, 'reactions.' Getting rid of alfalfa helped dramatically, but we still didn't quite get rid of it until I also removed soy.

What I find worth mentioning in your case, is my guy got nutty on alfalfa, but never had the photosensitivity and resultant scratches/cellulitis until he had an immune insult. He certainly never *exhibited* a problem with soy until that as well... Perhaps he was always susceptible, but never had the scratches or hot, swollen, painful legs until post-insult.

In your guy's case, I'm sure the antibiotics and anti-inflamms that were necessary to help the injury could conceivably be an immune insult. So if he has any type of food allergy--and it could be oats, timothy, corn... whatever it is... but until you remove that will keep him from completely healing and lead to the recurring issues.

May not be the case at all... but it might be worth looking into. If he's on alfalfa, try pulling it. IF it's the culprit, you'll see an improvement in about 48 hrs, and 'healing' in 3-6 weeks. If it's not, other common culprits are corn and soy. Generally I will put a horse on whole oats and grass hay, if things clear up, YAY! Then I'll add back ingredients one at a time until I figure out the trigger.

Other nutritional things that *may* be helpful are omega 3s in the forms of flax or fish oil or both... Copper, Zinc and Ester C. MSM in 10-15g doses daily. Probiotics. A product from Dynamite called Izmine. Grape Seed Meal. If you're interested in herbals or homeopathics, there are both which are indicated to help.

Good luck. It's frustrating and really hurtful to watch and not be able to 'make it better' easily. :(

FlashGordon
Jan. 30, 2009, 10:39 PM
PP... I agree, sometimes some weird immune issue can trigger a cellulitic episode in a horse that is prone to them.... allergies, worms, stress, etc. At least, this has been my experience.

coolmom
Jan. 31, 2009, 08:30 AM
Your opinions and advice have been a great comfort to me. Once the swelling is down we will have xrays taken to see if there may be some foreign object left behind from the initial injury that is the culprit of the reoccurring episodes. The injury was so massive that his body could not completely heal the area and so there remains proud flesh and a relatively small opening that just will not cover over. I noticed that it is now seeping. The injury acts as a turnicut prohibiting the blood flow to the lower portion of the leg. Unbelieveably, he had made a full recovery with the leg being a normal size and was never lame on it. Other than the ugly scarring, he was fine and had returned to some small jumping. The vet admitted to us NOW that he would have agreed with us had we chosen to put the horse down at the time of the original injury. Now, I feel as though we made a poor choice in actually saving and recuperating him. I'm hoping that the xrays find a true cause of these bouts of horrific swelling. I think, if not, I will always wonder if we made the right choice for him. His eyes tell it all to me....

FindersKeepers
Jan. 31, 2009, 08:39 AM
OP,so sorry to hear about your boy :(

My mare had recurring cellulitis following a severe fungal infection. Even when it's recurring, one you learn what symptoms show early for your horse, you can start treatment before it gets to a point of severe pain.

We fought it off and on with my girl for about 9 months. Once we finally got the initial infection cleared up, the cellulitis subsided, and we have not had a problem for the last 3 years.

In my experience, there is usually something missed. In our case, we found we weren't quite clearing up the infection 100%. I wouldn't be surprised if your boy had a bone chip floating around in there, but it also could just be the proudflesh.

Good luck!! And don't regret saving him...he's alive now. Don't look back, just make the right choices moving forward.

merrygoround
Jan. 31, 2009, 09:55 AM
I suspect that the draining area at the site of his old injury is the instigating factor in the recurrent bouts he is having. Some radiographs and perhaps an U/S, may give you some insight as to why it is still draining.

Melyni
Jan. 31, 2009, 11:43 AM
I have found that treatment with a therapy laser/LED to be really useful for cellulitis.

Along with proper nutrition of course!

But I'd rent, steal, borrow buy a therapy laser/LED for that if it were me.

MW

Serigraph
Jan. 31, 2009, 12:12 PM
My horse had a bad case once due to a wicked barn manager that stabbed him in knee with a metal pitchfork:(. His entire leg was swollen from elbow to foot. It took a while for him to get better, but he was on antibiotics and we cold hosed and wrapped, plus applied surpass to get the swelling down. His never cracked with puss coming out, thank goodness.

Now I just watch any cut or scrape he might get to make sure it does not turn into a cellulitis situation. In fact, recently he had a cut below his hock and his fetlock was a bit fat, so on the anitbiotics he went. Better safe than sorry. Swelling was better within a day or two. No lameness at all.

I just add it to the things to manage and make sure I have antiboitics on hand.

fixem
Jan. 31, 2009, 12:39 PM
My past experience with cellulitis is a problem in the Lymphatic system of the horse. My last bout was with a mare that had a flare up about every 2 or three weeks...after I researched the Lymphatic System I urged the owner to please have her TEETH checked. The dentist came and to our surprise she had an infected tooth that needed to be removed. The tooth was a long way from the left rear leg that had cellulitis, but after removal she has never had a bout with cellulitis again. That was about 6 months ago

FlashGordon
Jan. 31, 2009, 01:57 PM
Your opinions and advice have been a great comfort to me. Once the swelling is down we will have xrays taken to see if there may be some foreign object left behind from the initial injury that is the culprit of the reoccurring episodes. The injury was so massive that his body could not completely heal the area and so there remains proud flesh and a relatively small opening that just will not cover over. I noticed that it is now seeping. The injury acts as a turnicut prohibiting the blood flow to the lower portion of the leg. Unbelieveably, he had made a full recovery with the leg being a normal size and was never lame on it. Other than the ugly scarring, he was fine and had returned to some small jumping. The vet admitted to us NOW that he would have agreed with us had we chosen to put the horse down at the time of the original injury. Now, I feel as though we made a poor choice in actually saving and recuperating him. I'm hoping that the xrays find a true cause of these bouts of horrific swelling. I think, if not, I will always wonder if we made the right choice for him. His eyes tell it all to me....

Ah ok... I have a friend whose horse had the exact same thing going on. He was sound and showing regularly for a good many years (5-7 probably) after the intial injury.

About 18 months ago he had a bad flare up of cellulitis and infection at the scar, went to Cornell, had 2 skin graft surgeries. Then spent an additional 6-8 months at another equine clinic in town. (I can't imagine the hospital bills...) He's home now, recuperating. His owner is hoping by summer he will be back to light work.

Honestly if it were my horse, I'm not sure I would have gone that far... but he looks fabulous, he is happy as can be, and seems to be recovering just fine.

Your horse will tell you what needs to be done. Good luck to you both.

murphyluv
Jan. 31, 2009, 04:48 PM
ok, not to hijack thread but can someone clarify either the difference between cellulitis and lymphangitis, or at least how they are diagnosed? I have seen lymphangitis that looked exactly like the cellulitis that someone else described- one leg swollen from top to bottom, where the cellulitis I've seen was in all four legs. Does it just depend case by case if one leg swells up or all four? I am assuming that cellulitis is an infection in the soft tissue, lymphangitis is infection in lymphatic system? They just can present similar symptoms?

fixem
Jan. 31, 2009, 05:50 PM
I am told by vets that lymphangitis and cellulitis are the same. The lymphatic system is a tract in the body that cleanses and carries away toxins. If a "bug" gets into that system, it will cause swelling and oozing. Usually contained in the rear legs as they are farthest from the heart, which is the pump for the system. Old or new injurys are at risk should the lymphatic system not be working properly.
There is not a lot of research done on this condition because of how few horses the problem...I wish they would because it is really painful for the infected horse. Not to mention the constant treatment to clear up.

joiedevie99
Jan. 31, 2009, 05:54 PM
Cellulitis is a infection in the skin and between the layers of the skin and of the connective tissues in the skin. Lymphangitis is an infection that gets into the lymphatic system. Lymphangitis is potentially more dangerous/deadly because the lymph system pumps around the whole body, so it can spread and cause the horse to become septic. Cellulitis is just as annoying, and can appear the same in an acute case, but the infection isn't as easily spread around the body.

The initial presentation is often the same, but if you palpate the lymph node in the affected leg, you should be able to distinguish between the two while you wait for the vet. Also, cellulitis swelling often spreads from the site of the infection outward, both up and down. Lymphangitis swelling will spread downwards from the lymph node at the top of the leg (inside the stifle if its in the hind). Sometimes you will see a line across the leg at the bottom of the swelling with lymphangitis. Infection site for both can be microscopic.